It's no surprise that manufacturers have been stretched thin by the pandemic. Panicked shoppers raced to retailers for the necessities surrounding worldwide business shutdowns, signaling the unforeseeable end to previously predictable supply chains. While many businesses have reopened, consumers' needs have become different. And the market has remained unrecognizable since March 2020.
Let’s take a look behind the scenes at the current state of manufacturing from an IT perspective, and discover how Google Cloud and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) offer an easy solution for instant collaboration and enhanced productivity.
Canceled flights and missing toilet paper
When the COVID-19 virus became a pandemic, shutdowns hit across the world. Businesses that were considered essential continued to operate, but every company was affected in some way — whether due to consumer uncertainty, changing safety regulations impacting operations, sick employees unable to work or a forced shutdown.
In fact, 95% of manufacturers worldwide believed their supply chain operations were negatively impacted by the pandemic. The top three reported effects were lost productivity (46% of manufacturers), lower sales (44%) and increased lead times (39%). All these stressors put a spotlight on IT, since remote work using mobile devices and Wi-Fi allowed many businesses to continue running in the cloud.
Innovating in hard times
A bright spot amid the pandemic challenges is that many manufacturers are turning to digital transformation — especially when it means keeping business going. According to Google Cloud research, the top three digital-enabling technologies manufacturers have embraced during the pandemic are data and analytics (46% of manufacturers), digital productivity tools (44%) and public cloud platforms (42%). Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and IT administrators are finding it easier than ever to evangelize solutions in these areas to their stakeholders.
Public clouds are a solid option for manufacturers.
With cloud computing solutions, manufacturers have the opportunity to readily enter new markets while improving overall customer satisfaction. By increasing their cloud usage, manufacturers can better enable both workspace productivity and customer engagement.
And it’s no wonder manufacturers are looking to the public cloud for a helping hand. There are many ways it can do heavy lifting during these hard times. For instance, Google Cloud offers visual inspection powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) for manufacturers. This technology has the potential to dramatically improve product quality and consistency — and decrease return costs — despite inconsistencies in manpower.
Predictive technology powers the Google Cloud Contact Center AI. With this innovation, it’s as if a client representative is answering questions and troubleshooting, thus helping to improve the customer experience. This is particularly important at a time when customers are engaging technology more than ever to safely find answers and resolutions.
Staying productive in a pandemic
On one side of the coin, laptops and hand sanitizer are in their heyday. On the other side, airline peanuts and concert merchandise have been collecting dust since March 2020. Whether it’s feast or famine, manufacturers can lean on streamlined cloud tools for pandemic-friendly operations.
Physical distancing mandates can make it tough to remain closely connected to suppliers. But with synchronized databases in Google Workspace, virtual conferencing in Google Meet and Google Calendar keeping teammates on track, manufacturers can stay informed and sell faster.
Pandemic aside, business agility can be difficult for manufacturers to achieve. According to this Whirlpool client story on the Google Cloud blog, Whirlpool Corporation CIO Mike Heim says the biggest challenge of a large company is innovating quickly. He believes that Google Workspace has been critical in helping Whirlpool take global ideas to market faster locally.
“Google Apps is a simple solution in many ways, but the features are actually very sophisticated, enabling us to surround our business processes with the right tools to connect people. It allows us to unleash the talent in the company, without a lot of IT support, which is very helpful,” says Heim. Creating a seamless IT experience to help users become independent producers of great work is key to quick innovation.
The importance and accessibility of data and analytics
With consumers' lifestyles and buying patterns changing due to evolving virus safety measures, manufacturers must collect and apply the information they need to make more informed decisions. This may sound overwhelming, but data and analytics are nothing to be intimidated by. Google has easy-to-use, secure and reliable tools for collecting, analyzing and storing data.
- BigQuery, is a highly scalable and cost effective cloud data warehouse.
- Google Forms allows workers to collect the information they need digitally with minimal setup.
- Google Cloud Search allows teammates to securely gain access to user-appropriate, real-time data on Google Workspace from anywhere.
Many data tools can be overly complex with cumbersome real-time collaboration — but not Google Sheets. Both basic and advanced spreadsheet functions are accessible for even novice users. An intuitive interface and endless support forums guide both beginners and experienced users, so teammates can get the most out of the tool. For example, you can browse 10 Google Workspace tips to analyze data for a simple walkthrough of how to optimize information in Sheets.
Resiliency and longevity with the right solutions
While most manufacturers were negatively impacted by the pandemic, many are using it as an opportunity to learn, grow and innovate. They’ve worked hard to retain employees and continue delivering the important products consumers depend on.
Resiliency and longevity with the right solutions
Solutions powered by Google Cloud have allowed manufacturers to find new revenue streams or change business processes to meet safety standards. When the dust settles, the best and most innovative changes will remain. Adopting the right transformative technology can provide both relief now and success in the future.