Many discussions start with technology buzzwords and in isolation.So it's great to see how C-level executives are combining technologies such as cloud, IoT, automation, analytics or AI to drive efficiency, flexibility and quality to deliver the conflicting objective of superior customer experience at lower cost.

a) Better chance at achieving target KPIs through real-time visibility and control. The granular level data, across the entire organisation, can now be made available in real time to everyone - Sanmina talks of connecting 70 factories and 25,000 pieces of equipment. This ensures better accountability and faster issue resolution; and hence much a better chance of reaching the target KPIs.

b) Reducing production defects and chances of product recalls. Data analytics i.e. AI/Machine learning techniques now allow data to be combined from 5M factors (material, man, machine, method and management) and hence deliver better predictive capability of where things can go wrong.

Manufacturers face an environment of increased customer expectations, regulatory pressures including changing tariffs and supply chain disruptions. Being laser focused is the only way to gain competitive edge: this is where data comes in to economically identify the issues and take pro-active actions.