manufacturing cloud (c) 2012 Clker-Free-Vector-ImagesRootstock has published its second State of Manufacturing Technology report. The study is based on a survey of 508 manufacturers from across North America, Europe, and Asia. It follows on from its 2023 report, and compares the results against the previous survey.

The report covers several areas of interest to manufacturers, including the adoption of AI, challenges and digital transformation. The report also examines the progress that manufacturers have adopted a signal chain strategy. Rootstock defines a signal chain as:

“A signal chain is representative of real-time demand signals combined with those coming from your supply chain, augmented with artificial intelligence to make better, more timely decisions that improve manufacturing operations.”

It combines data from CRM, SCM and MRP solutions to provide the intelligence for organisations to take action from. The survey identified that organisations that are leaders in digital transformation, 76% are highly integrated with Signal Chain connecting their data.

Raj Badarinath Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Rootstock.
Raj Badarinath Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Rootstock.

Raj Badarinath, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Rootstock Software, commented, “Today’s economic climate is driving an urgent need for manufacturers to do more with less. To navigate the volatile micro and macro trends occurring at a local and global scale, manufacturers are recalibrating technology investments and resetting what ERP means in the age of AI. In years past, they’ve hobbled along on incremental benefits from legacy solutions.

“But now they’re seeing the benefits of a modern, cloud-first, AI-ready platform approach. Acquiring these capabilities will deliver the benefits that matter most to manufacturers. Namely precise control over their resources, the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions, and more time to focus on initiatives that truly deliver value.”

What is in the State of Manufacturing Technology Survey

At 23 pages, the report contains a mix of analysis, data visualisations and commentary. It relies on the quantitative statistics from the survey. It does not dive much deeper into the subjects covered with any qualitative element. There are no comments within the report from Rootstock leaders or third-party experts within the report. However, it does conclude with five quotes from survey participants. Though these might have been better placed to support the findings in the main body.

Where the report is stronger than others is that it has used last year’s data to show how manufacturers have changed over the last year. One significant change is how manufacturers’ perception has evolved about Salesforce as a single technology platform for their IT systems. In 2023, 18% strongly considered it. In 2024, 44% are strongly considering it, and 8% are using it (0% in 2023).

The report is divided into four sections:

  • Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
  • ERP and the manufacturing Signal Chain
  • Investments and Economic Conditions
  • The AI Equation: Adoption & Impact

The report has no conclusion, only the comments mentioned above. It might have been strengthened with a set of questions or insights.

Key findings

There are several notable findings within the report. There is progress from 2023 around digital transformation. As with other surveys, AI is a priority for many manufacturers. However, while 90% have adopted AI, 38% feel they are behind their peers. While the authors delve into the reasons behind this, it is not a statistical anomaly. Though understanding why those organisations are behind their peers is important.

What is interesting is that manufacturers are adopting a broad set of AI technologies. With Automation (48%), Generative AI (43%), AI-powered industrial IoT (43%) and Predictive AI (36%) as the top four. The report also looks at the regional breakdown. With Canadian (17%) and UK (19%) firms believing they are far ahead of their peers. What isn’t clear is if these comparisons with peers are national or industry-based.

The barriers to digital transformation are changing. In 2024, the top challenges are a lack of resource/budget (31%) and jointly Too busy/in reactive mode and lack of cross-departmental coordination (both 27%). In 2023, the lack of cross-departmental coordination was top (37%). However, limited access to data (34%) was second, but was no longer listed in 2024. This is possibly due to the growing realisation of the value the Signal Chain can provide.

While budgets are constrained, investment continues with the priority focused on performance (41%) and cybersecurity (34%). 51% of manufacturers are also increasing enterprise spending. A cloud ERP solution, such as Rootstock ERP, can deliver on the priorities. Respondents have seen positive outcomes from ERP investment to reduce overall costs (56%), improve IT Security (46%) and improve business agility and resilience (46%).

Stu Johnson, Vice President of Product Marketing  at Rootstock, commented, “The Manufacturing Signal Chain has become a powerful paradigm for manufacturers seeking to optimize their digital transformation initiatives and bring to bear an AI-driven decisioning platform. Our survey demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach, and we expect to see early Signal Chain adopters thrive in the year ahead, armed with the data needed to make better decisions that drive growth.”  

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

There is a wealth of data within this report with some very interesting trends highlighted. The key is the rising importance of the Signal Chain concept and how manufacturing is turning to a single platform technology stack, such as Salesforce, to help provide that Signal Chain. The advantage Rootstock possesses over rivals is that its solution can sit alongside not just the Salesforce applications. It can also take advantage of other third-party applications and the underlying AI technology that Salesforce provides.

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