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What 2019 has in Store for the Manufacturing Industry

Hayley Null, NetSuite’s Manufacturing Industry Marketing Lead, recently sat down with David Gustovich, NetSuite’s Senior Director for Global Manufacturing Center of Excellence, to discuss his thoughts on what the important trends are for the industry in 2019.

Hayley Null: What do you recommend that manufacturers pay attention to in 2019?

David Gustovich: Based on my research and conversations with our manufacturing customers, there are 3 main trends that will affect manufacturing companies in 2019.

  • Potential slowdown of the global economy
  • State of the art technology becoming more widely accepted
  • Greater adoption of new revenue channels, including servicing

Null: How should manufacturers prepare for the risk of a potential global economic slowdown?

Gustovich: To ride some of the turbulent waves of any potential downturn, manufacturers are investing more in customer service and maintaining business continuity. One of the areas manufacturers are investing in specifically is inventory management. Manufacturing companies must ensure they have the correct inventory alignment, meaning not carrying more inventory than they absolutely need, to keep inventory costs low while meeting customer’s expectations. The bottom line is that manufacturers are, or should be, looking at new initiatives that will allow them to come out of a possible slowdown stronger, and maintain or gain a competitive edge against competition.

Null: How does the increasing adoption of state-of-the-art technology (i.e. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, the Internet of Things) help manufacturers gain a competitive edge?

Gustovich: As 2019 progresses, more and more companies are going to embrace this advanced functionality than ever before. Next generation technology can be used as a strategic weapon to allow manufacturers, and companies in general, to manage their businesses more profitably and efficiently, increase operating effectiveness, better service customers and create new revenue channels. Specifically, companies can drive more effectiveness in their global supply chain (form order management, procurement, delivery, logistics, distribution, managing partner and outsourcing networks), which is always a top priority for manufacturers. Through better visibility and awareness, these technologies open new doors that weren’t there before.

Null: You mentioned that manufacturers can use technology to create new revenue channels- can you speak a bit more about how manufacturers are creating new revenue channels? 

Gustovich: One of the most prominent ways to diversify revenue channels is through ecommerce, mobile and social media. Manufacturers must fully embrace these platform capabilities as an outlet to drive new revenues (acquire new customers, retain current customers, increase brand recognition) and create new customer experiences (diversify product-line, add after-sales servicing) – or fall behind.

Null: We’ve been discussing what lies ahead for manufacturers in 2019. Switching gears, were there any big surprises for manufacturers in 2018? 

Gustovich: I would say that the biggest surprise was probably the amount of receptivity and visibility that AI and Blockchain are starting to gain in the marketplace. How accepted these capabilities are becoming is a good barometer of things to come.