Building A Better Manufacturing World in 2021

Four applicable insights that we have learned about resilient manufacturers in the past years to soar in 2021 and beyond.

Published on
11 Jan 2022
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The world, as we know, changed drastically in 2020. We are just beginning to see a glimmer of hope with economies and industries recovering all around the world, slowly but steadily. Here are four lessons we have learnt in the past year that you can apply to your business to soar in 2021 and beyond.

For Skimmers:

  1. Research shows that resilient manufacturers are recovering faster and better than their peers during COVID-19
  2. When making decisions, think of quarterly as the new annual.
  3. Focus on your customers and what they need above outperforming your competitors.
  4. Using strategies such as social selling to connect and win over customers are more important than ever.
  5. Digital and analytical tools can reduce operations risks while fostering flexibility and managing human capital more effectively.

Manufacturing relies heavily on routines; however, standard practices aren't immune to supply chain disruptions' unfavourable effects. For example, when COVID-19 spread rapidly across the globe, businesses witnessed a reduction in demand and interruptions and delays across many supply chains. According to the BCG Henderson Institute, manufacturers that were resilient found that:

  1. The immediate impact of an external shock on their performance was lower than their peers.
  2. The recovery-speed of their performance is higher than their peers
  3. The extent of recovery is much better than their peers.

In this context, we define resilient manufacturing as the ability to produce a constant quality at reasonable costs and production time despite disturbances and uncertainties.

Source: BCG Henderson Institute of Analysis

Based on our research, we have summarised some of the ways you can build resilience to create a better manufacturing world in 2021 and for the years to come:

1. Speed Up Decision-making

COVID-19 has shown that manufacturers can make decisions faster without disrupting day-to-day workflows. That means having fewer meetings and fewer decision-makers in a forum and delegating domain-related decisions to supervisors and managers. To improve the cadence of those decisions, we suggest that you adopt the idea that quarterly is the new annual, making the organisation more flexible and allocating resources more effectively.

Here are a few suggestive measures to improve decision making when faced with a disruption:

  • Have a crisis management task force in place
  • Gain an overview of the end-to-end supply chain data: inventory, assets, teams
  • Define clear roles and responsibilities as well as communication protocols and reporting
  • Conduct a general supply chain risk assessment
  • Assess data (inventory, network, hubs) to match supply to demand
  • Evaluate cost and mitigate current and potential supply and demand disruption
  • Develop future-state hypothesis on critical impacts on the supply chain

2. Adopt An Open-source Approach To Innovation

Partners are increasingly crucial in dealing with change, complexity and disruptions. Just because times are fraught, doesn't mean you should be focusing your energy on outperforming your competitor. Instead, focus on the opposite. Because conditions are difficult, your management needs to take on more responsibility for execution, action, and collaboration.

Others in the same industry as you are not only competitors but also peers. Seeking out strategic partners within and outside the industry in combination with keeping an open and active relationship with your customers will ensure growth, even during a pandemic.

For business partnerships to be sustainable, you must build relationships on deep trust. Trust allows you and your strategic partners to integrate systems and processes, enabling you to find solutions and execute decisions efficiently.

3. Craft Effective Digital Marketing-Sales Responses

We are all aware that personal social media usage been on the rise. Still, professional social media usage has become more prevalent — and the field of sales is no exception. In fact, when making B2B purchasing decisions, 50% of buyers turn to LinkedIn as a resource.

Social media is a playing field for the long game. Hard sells won't work on this field, and salespeople have to be willing to put in the time and effort to engage with their target buyers on an ongoing basis. Hubspot defines it as:

'Social selling is the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks -- notably Twitter and LinkedIn, but others certainly fit the bill.'

By engaging with your customers' and prospects' post, your sales team will create relationships with buyers and boost their credibility by taking an interest in what they're interested.

Research shows that top-performing sales reps, who close deals 51% more than their peers, consider social networking platforms essential to their success.

Rethinking your customers' decisions journeys and putting in the time and effort to nurture relationships with customers and prospects alike will help you understand what customers value and design customer experiences accordingly.

4. Seek Competitive Advantage and Value Through Data and Digitalisation

Did you know that digitalisation rewards could be as much as $3.7 trillion in value worldwide by 2025?

As we enter the age of the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' or otherwise known as 'Industry 4.0', digital and analytic tools are getting faster and more accessible. For the textiles and apparel industry, digitalisation means adopting new use cases for technology and applying them across business processes and management systems.

An example of a use case would be, Shimmy, a fashion-technology company based in Brooklyn, New York. Shimmy taps into AI and data to re-skill the very workforce its technology displaces. The software provides garment workers with digital skills – including digital pattern making and 3D modelling - they need to take on higher-paying, more meaningful roles in the fashion industry.

Despite the notion that re-skilling an entire workforce is nearly impossible, Shimmy has managed to make training workers simple — and effective. According to tests, most workers completed digital training within 40 minutes, including those from countries where 10 out of 11 had never used a computer. Shimmy's emphasis on learning, connectivity, and problem-solving—capabilities have far-reaching capabilities.

Adopting such digital and analytical tools can reduce operations risks while fostering flexibility and managing human capital more effectively.


Those of you who think and expect that the world will go back to the way things were. It simply will not. Instead, we encourage you to think differently and accept the reality that the future is far from being par for the course. It is never the less adaptable.

We understand that counting on hope and optimism can be difficult when times are hard. Still, to accelerate recovery and resilience efforts, one must instil a spirit of purpose and unapologetic focus. Bearing that in mind, we conclude that optimism and operational discipline even in an uncertain future, can, with effort, be a better one.

See how we help our clients build resilience through establishing a strong brand identity and tailored digital solutions here.