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Malaysia’s vision of a digital economy is one of the key factors driving business growth in the country, which is ranked 15 among 190 economies in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report.

Recently, the government announced a new national policy, Industry4WRD, to support the manufacturing sector’s leap to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The government’s role in the transformation process will propel manufacturing businesses — especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — on their journey towards 4IR. A recent study reveals that 65 per cent of SMEs are prioritising technology investments over other fixed assets.

There are several ways how technology adoption can benefit manufacturing businesses, drive efficiency and boost growth.

ONE, technology automates manual tasks. In today’s fast-paced manufacturing environment, technology generates efficiencies. Over half of business decision-makers agree that robotics has the ability to automate repetitive or mundane tasks on the production line;

TWO, technology helps manufacturers plug a burgeoning skills gap. According to studies, the majority of manufacturers (78 per cent) admit that attracting top talent with the right skills set is no easy task, suggesting that the sector may suffer from a lack of skills and internal knowledge. To address the shortfall in workforce talent, businesses agree that technology, such as robotics, can save time and resources;

THREE, technology provides crucial data. With the growth of smart factory with its connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, we are witnessing a huge growth in the amount of data generated on the production line. The performance logs from a single machine can generate around five gigabytes (GB) of data per week, and a typical smart factory can produce around five million GB a week — the equivalent of more than 300,000 16GB iPhones;

FOUR, technology makes it possible to quickly expand overseas or to new locations. Overseas expansion can be difficult to navigate, with one in 10 businesses admitting that working with overseas customers and suppliers represented a challenge, particularly for businesses with large supply chains or those that need to address tax obligations across multiple regions.

With a flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, global processes can be managed effectively. Closing the communication gap to conduct global business can be achieved by taking advantage of multilanguage ERP systems that make it easier to interact with international colleagues, suppliers and customers; and,

FIVE, technology enables businesses to adapt. By deploying the right tools, be it cognitive technology or software, one can bring major improvements in business performance, making it possible to undertake forecasting, scheduling and stock replenishment dynamically in response to customer demands. The ability to respond in real-time enables companies to control their manufacturing and sales order processes, and enhance return-on-investment.

However, the platform selected must be flexible, that is, connecting management with the factory floor and enabling project teams to collaborate across borders.

All requirements that are fuelling the adoption of cloud-based ERP solutions by businesses of all sizes seek to keep pace with new technologies and customer expectations.

Linking these systems to a next-generation ERP solution can improve profit margins, open new revenue streams and improve brand reputations.

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