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Report perspective: Midsizers committing to digital transformation

Aug. 17, 2022

"This wave of change is ushering in a newfound confidence."

Epicor's Charu Roy

It’s a commonly held belief that industrial companies lag behind their B2C counterparts in digital capabilities, despite customers still having the same expectations. But the latest findings from Epicor’s Annual Industry Insights Report firmly lay this misconception to bed and demonstrate that businesses of all sizes are competing in new ways…and it's working.

This wave of change is ushering in a newfound confidence, with 54% of all manufacturing respondents citing they are prioritizing growth, and 46% focusing on prioritizing business stability.

A shift in strategy is the overarching key to recent successes for more than 1,350 mid-size business leaders—with nearly half of survey respondents in the manufacturing industry. Survey findings revealed insights about those strategies to accelerate growth, digital transformation, and attitudes toward that journey. 

Accelerating growth

With the industry being squeezed in all directions, manufacturing has had to adapt to increased competition, supply chain disruption and the ‘need it now’ consumption trend. As a result, businesses of all sizes are adopting innovative supply chains and moving into previously inaccessible markets. But manufacturers specifically shared that they have changed their core business models by adding new strategies, including direct-to-customer sales and delivery (44%), e-commerce via online ordering (40%), and configure-price-quote solutions (34%). As a result of all this change, 81% boasted they saw growth by diversifying their offerings.

Naturally, digital transformation has been cited as critical for diversifying services. 86% claim they changed their technologies to adjust for their expanded capabilities. Specifically, 85% chose to diversify their supply chain, and 84% diversified to e-commerce. As a result, the majority (54%) are confident their business is on the right path and almost all respondents (95%) believe the right-fit technology will accelerate growth. 

The speed of digital transformation 

The speed of change also means technology-solution-providers must be ready to adapt to these expanding needs and offer to businesses tailor-made solutions to meet them—a statement that is supported by the report’s findings; while 95% cited right-fit technology will accelerate growth, 92% want to partner with providers who have ‘specialist industry knowledge.’ As ERP vendor offerings expand to integrate planning and execution in new, innovative ways, special industry knowledge is necessary to track quality every step of the way. 

While right-fit technology is important to these business leaders—with about 90% of respondents using cloud solutions stating they feel loyal to their current ERP provider—nearly half of decision-makers said they actively consider moving to a new ERP solution every one to three years, due in part to industry innovation and rapid digital transformation delivering a proliferation of new technologies.

The survey data underscores that manufacturers do not intend to stand still. Midsize companies are consistently evaluating their business strategies, adjusting them to expand their offerings, and leaning into highly flexible cloud-based technologies to drive agility and performance. With available cloud solutions enabling no-code/low-code end-to-end automation, integrations to other external systems prompt manufacturers to embrace smart technologies. 

While it may be tempting to act rapidly out of fear of being left behind, careful planning, the right integration partner and a solid implementation strategy will carry the day.

Charu Roy is Epicor's vice president of product management