One of our FactoryTech 50 companies says that disconnected data is holding back many manufacturers.

Research from digital workflow firm Intoware, ninth on our innovation ranking announced today, found that 74% of manufacturing and engineering companies continue to rely on legacy systems and spreadsheets to get tasks done.

It says they are mistaken in believing that inflexible and often out-of-date data is sufficient to support corporate decision-making.

The survey of 1,030 UK-based industrial firms showed that 86% claim to be data-informed and 76% trust data enough to complete tasks, despite most of them relying on disparate legacy systems.

 “The survey shows that manufacturers believe they are data-driven, when in reality they could be relying on old, out-of-date data,” said Intoware CEO Keith Tilley (pictured below).

Keith Tilley, CEO, Intoware 

“This disconnected data acts like a ball and chain, tying down your staff as they spend a huge amount of time trying to unlock data trapped in spreadsheets and legacy systems to meet the demands of businesses, customers and regulators.”

The research showed that 77% of senior decision makers have access to data and 82% believe that data is an asset, which Tilley describes as “very good news”. 

Intoware – Take the first steps on your digital transformation with WorkfloPlus

However, he added that just under half of those surveyed use data only occasionally to help get the job done – as the reality is that their data is siloed.

Almost three-quarters are interested in using digital software ‘tools’ to support their role, but 21% admit to feeling overwhelmed and another 24% to feeling only slightly confident when using data to back decision-making.

A worrying 28% of senior decision-makers and 27% of managers rely on ‘gut-feel’ all the time to make decisions, according to the research.

“This can have serious implications, such as when managers need to introduce engineering changes without assessing the impact on current works or raw materials for example – which are all factors that are detrimental to business performance,” said Tilley.

“A reliance on siloed data severely hinders business operations with accountability and visibility issues, as each department has their own interpretation of data, which is a problem for businesses that are increasingly under pressure to evolve how they manage resources and communicate data insights.

 “If you digitise paper-processes with work-instruction ‘tools’ that integrate with connected smart devices and third-party systems, this information can be more easily shared, providing staff with access to quality data, and a ‘single source of truth’ right across the business, for more proactive and rapid, ‘real-time’ insights to improve productivity and satisfy compliance.”