How can manufacturers unlock the value in data?

2 mins read

Intoware’s Head of Data, Tim Busfield explains how to put your industrial data to work.

‘Up to 73% of all data collected within the enterprise goes unused’ according to Forrester research. It highlights a growing challenge for manufacturers as they race to extract value, but are encumbered by the sheer volume of the raw data they own.

Getting started on your digital transformation journey can be difficult, many count themselves out from the need to embrace it or they don’t know how to select the right ‘tools’. But for those that do take the opportunity to unlock the benefits it provides, by changing how they work and using data to enable better decision-making - it will deliver competitive advantage.

Unused data represents a major cost to manufacturers, it needs to be stored and secured without returning any benefit to the business. Data that is actively analysed and utilised however, represents an asset. Businesses need to focus on maintaining data that is valuable and shedding data that is not.

So, to answer the question "what data do we need"? Manufacturers should start by defining their own objectives, from there they can outline the data required to meet those objectives and following that, they can determine the digital processes needed to capture that data in a timely and reliable way.

The best means of capturing that data depends on the data itself, the environment it is coming from and the frequency that it needs to be reported. In industrial settings a lot of useful information can be captured from workers inputting data via smartphones or tablets. If data capture is required however, from a large number of assets relatively frequently then equipping those devices with IoT sensors may be more cost effective.

The value from data will not be realised until these data sources are exploited, this often requires a culture shift across the business. The key lies in collaboration, specifically between frontline workers on the factory floor or out in the field and senior managers to ensure that needs are fully understood and met.

Building a data-literate workforce

Research from the Data Literacy Project revealed ‘that only 21% of employees are data-literate, despite 65% claiming they need to read and interpret data on a regular basis. Only 25% of employees felt fully prepared to use data effectively.’

One of the challenges for manufacturers is not just capturing data, but turning data into actionable insights that empower employees to make more informed decisions, improve productivity and drive competitive advantage.

If you are to succeed, managers must enable their employees to become more confident and comfortable in using data insights to make decisions. While most businesses understand the opportunity of data, recent research has suggested a gap is emerging between business aspirations and their employee’s ability to work with data. This means that they must focus on these three key areas:

  1. Assess your employees’ levels of data literacy
  2. Provide employees with the right technology, processes and methodologies to enable them to meet business goals.
  3. Define the data that employees need to access to be productive and manage governance

Data literacy training should not be approached as a tick-box exercise, but instead be incorporated in your corporate training and onboarding. Since the most powerful asset for your business when it comes to creating value from data is your people.

You can read the full eBook, ‘How to unlock the value in data?’ at