Manufacturers Must Close Digital Transformation Gap: Survey

More than one-third (35%) still report relying on manual data collection, which suggests a significant gap among manufacturers’ willingness and preparedness to embrace today’s technology.

Metamorworks Adobe Stock 470811554 Digital Transformation
metamorworks AdobeStock_470811554 digital transformation

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of manufacturers have begun the digital transformation process, with 40% reporting significant progress or completion, according to a new report presented by Parsec Automation Corp. However, more than one-third (35%) still report relying on manual data collection, which suggests a significant gap among manufacturers’ willingness and preparedness to embrace today’s technology.

“Although manufacturers are steadily advancing towards digital transformation, there remains a significant scope for progress," says Eddy Azad, founder and CEO of Parsec. "It's heartening to note that over half (53%) of the survey participants are utilizing enabling technologies like MES. This insight underscores the need for technology providers to not only effectively showcase the benefits of their solutions, but also to furnish the requisite tools and education for the seamless and sustainable adoption of these transformative technologies.”

Key takeaways:


  • Survey findings suggest that manufacturers may be underutilizing technology or underestimating its capabilities. Among the respondents whose companies have reportedly “completed” their digital transformations, nearly one-third (31%) still collect most or all of their data using manual processes.
  • Despite their reliance on legacy data collection practices, a majority (71%) of respondents expressed positive sentiments about their organizations’ digital transformation initiatives. These findings indicate that, while manufacturers may be pleased with their organizations’ technological progress, there is still ample opportunity for tech providers to educate their customers on pivotal value-adds like automated data collection and analysis.
  • When it comes to MES platforms, more than one-quarter (27%) of respondents said they had never heard of MES before.
  • Among respondents familiar with MES but have yet to implement it in their organization, the vast majority (75%) say they haven’t done so because they do not have enough information on how the technology would benefit their specific operation.
  • Those who have adopted MES, however, are pleased with their results. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents actively utilizing an MES platform said they were “very” or “extremely satisfied” with the product. These active users said they adopted the advanced technology to increase efficiency (73%), improve quality (57%), and reduce operating costs (47%).
  • The survey data reveals that manufacturers are still experiencing supply chain challenges, with more than half (53%) reporting their organizations are “hardly” or “somewhat” prepared to weather a storm. More than one-third (36%) shared that supply chain issues have been “very” or “extremely” challenging for their businesses.
  • Hiring and retention remain a challenge for many manufacturers, and nearly half (46%) cite these difficulties as direct impediments to adopting advanced technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
  • With half (50%) sharing that line workers are the hardest roles to fill, it’s clear that what manufacturers need most are additional dedicated, talented associates to operate their day-to-day equipment.
  • More than half (52%) agree that enterprise software solutions should include capabilities for AI and ML.
  • At the same time, just one-third (34%) feel their business is prepared to leverage this advanced technology. When asked about the barriers standing in their way, respondents cited lack of knowledge (46%), lack of trust in the technology (39%) and implementation costs (33%).

“Manufacturers need to adopt advanced technology to propel the industry forward," Azad says. "Contemporary software solutions must be developed with enhanced accessibility and exceptional user experience in mind. It is imperative for technology providers to proactively engage with manufacturers, address their apprehensions, and offer guidance to fuel their success.”