Course Code: 581
Teaching with Case Study
Technology and the Manager’s Job
“Welcome to the Factory of the Future”
Experts at Georgia Tech’s Manufacturing Research Center say that three important trends are driving what tomorrow’s factories will look like. One trend is globalization of the supply chain. In the factories of the future, design and business processes will be performed where it is most efficient and effective to do so. The second trend is technology which eliminate the materialistic feature of the product while widely increasing complexity. The third trend is demographics and its impact on demand patterns. Products will have shorter life cycles as more variety and choices will be provided. “The challenge for the future factory is to be both adaptable over many different product lifecycles, and flexible with regard to the number of different products being produced in the same time frame.”
In this case context–
· According to experts, what important trends are driving future factories?
· How can companies identify future trends?
First, look at a dataset that shows change over a period. Exponential growth, a slow decline, even a flat line– all counts as a trend.
Future trends will likely fall into one of five categories, commonly referred to by futurists as STEEP. Most trends fall into the broad categories of Society, Technology, Economics, Ecology, and Politics.
Second, a timeframe must be identified, preferably the one that shows where the change is significant.
For example, if you are looking at future trends in housing prices, the last three years may not be representative. In order to understand the future in such sector, you might need data on the past few decades (i.e, if you only look at housing prices in a country starting in 2002, you will not get the same perspective of what a bubble was unless you go back to the past 20 years or more).
How can you determine which trends are truly going to require a shift in the products/services you deliver as a corporate?
· Develop future planning strategies
· Collect data that comes from a qualified expert source (customers/competitors).
However, companies that focus on customers’ demand, are the ones that can meet the target of the coming changes head on— That is because they can start developing the right competencies to meet those customer needs. Listening to the customers is not a new idea is a strategy that plays out for companies of all sizes and industries; but few companies use it as the foundation for their employee competency planning.
For example, some of the learning leaders at MasterCard have, recently, declared that the company is clearly defining itself as a technology firm because of the customer demand for solutions beyond a simple knockdown. One example of how following the customer demands is ensure that the company is targeting the right trends, thus the company applied a method of shifting from online retail to mobile payments. That, in turn, feeds information into the hiring and upskilling side of things, thus, MasterCard needs to hire mobile developers and people to broker relationships with online marketplaces, and those would not have been skill sets the company was looking for in the past.
· Consider your own organization and its approach to deal with this endless issue.
· Do you have a strategy and methods for identifying and evaluating trends that will affect your business?
· How do you determine which trends are going to require attention?
· How does trend analysis feed into your competency and skill employment planning process?
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