“Manufacturers are bullish on the economy, their future earnings, and their rate of digital transformation,” Wipfli LLP says in the “State of Manufacturing” 2024 outlook report for manufacturers that it released today.
Bill Boucher, the leader of Wipfli’s manufacturing, retail and distribution practice, says manufacturers are moving beyond the market disruption of recent years to and further into the use of artificial intelligence and other practices to improve their resiliency, drive more business and operate more efficiently.
“Manufacturers have shown remarkable resilience throughout these challenging times, a testament to their ability to adapt and thrive amidst uncertainty,” he says. “However, it’s imperative that we address critical areas such as employee retention, data security and rising costs tied to inflation. Our research shows while there are many obstacles, there is even more untapped potential in the areas of digital technology and AI that need consideration as we move forward into 2024.”
When the survey asked respondents about the importance of the manufacturing industry to embrace digital transformation and technological advancement, only 1% said it was unimportant. The responses were:
- 47% very important.
- 38% important.
- 14% somewhat important.
- 1% not important.
The survey found that only 36% of manufacturers were already using AI, but that 41% planned to invest in it.
Among those using AI, a majority of manufacturers said they plan to use it to improve operations, sales and overall growth.
The report found the following breakdown of how they expect to use AI:
- 70%, operations.
- 63%, sales and growth.
- 48%, robotic process automation/automation.
- 47%, financial reporting.
- 36%, front/back office.
The report notes that 88% of respondents said they anticipate increased revenue next year. Moreover, it says that most are targeting new customers more frequently than existing customers, while also planning to focus on increasing product sales in existing markets in 2024.
Wipfli says that employee retention was one of the critical hurdlers survey respondents cited in the survey, leading them to increase pay and benefits to attract and retain top talent.
Paul Demery is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].
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