Australia's manufacturing industry urged to transform

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 29 September, 2017

Australia’s manufacturing industry is under pressure to transform into a highly integrated, collaborative and export-focused ecosystem, and empowering firstline workers will be key to achieving this transformation, according to Microsoft.

A survey of firstline workers and manufacturers commissioned by the company found that 83% of firstline manufacturing employees agree that technology is key to creating efficiencies in their organisation.

In addition, 79% believe that technology will streamline processes and 67% state that digital technology will help revolutionise manufacturing.

But only 4% of firstline workers feel that their enterprise is “pioneering” in terms of technology deployments, with 39% describing their enterprise’s digital progress as “developing”. Only 21% are currently involved in digital transformation initiatives, although a further 33% are not involved but would like to be.

Microsoft Australia’s GM for digital workplace and collaboration noted that manufacturing’s contribution to Australian GDP has fallen from a high of 14% in 1995 to just 6% today, meaning the sector is in sore need of digital transformation.

“As rote work is increasingly performed by machines, human interaction and knowledge-based expertise will become more important to firstline workers. They’ll use technology to collaborate, to exercise greater creative and strategic freedom, and to bring real value to the work they perform,” he said.

“Digital transformation is powerful but everyone needs access. Firstline workers are the key to the next wave of successful digital transformation and sustained competitiveness.”

Despite fears that automation in manufacturing can lead to job losses, 67% of firstline workers agree that the ability to work closely with automation and AI enabled systems is key to developing a successful modern workforce, and 69% say automation can make processes more flexible.

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