Improving Customer Responsiveness Through Silo Demolition

Customer responsiveness is becoming much more than delivering the right product at the right time to the right customer. In today’s connected world, it is about transforming how manufacturers interact with customers, transforming how customers interact with products, and knowing what the customer wants even before they do. Unfortunately, companies’ technology and business process architectures often do more to inhibit than enable these changes.

Traditionally, striving toward demand-driven manufacturing has been a major component of Lean, Six-Sigma, and other well-established Operational Excellence programs. But just because companies have had responsiveness goals on the radar for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been successful.

According to our 2013-2014 Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) survey, taken by over 275 manufacturing and decision makers across a range of industries, being responsive to customer demands was the second most important strategic objective of respondents, with 56% choosing this as a top response, behind only ensuring the consistent quality of products. Since being responsive has retained its place right near the top of the list, clearly there’s plenty of work still to be done.

So what’s keeping manufacturers from achieving the operational agility and capacity to respond to customer demands? To put it simply, operational and technological silos.

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Silos are Roadblocks to Achieving Operational Excellence

Looking at the data for operational challenges, the top two challenges respondents face are directly related to silos, as they speak to a lack of information flow and collaboration across people, systems, and data sources within an organization. As customer order and production schedules are always dynamic, supplier deliveries not always reliable, and customer preferences fickle, the existence of these operational silos can put companies in a permanent “firefighting” mode.

These challenges are particularly disruptive in being responsive. Today manufacturers are attempting to get ahead of customers by incorporating product usage, product reliability, quality, and customer sentiment data to improve product design and manufacturing processes, and any silos present in this data gathering can cause information flow and collaboration to break down. Many leading manufacturers are looking to enhance operational agility and limit this breakdown by demolishing these functional and application silos.


So How are Leading Manufacturers Addressing Operational Silos Today?

A growing number are successfully breaking down these silos and increasing operational agility by implementing dynamic processes and supporting software, namely MOM software applications.

LNS 2When looking at the data above, we can see that 63% of companies are actively attempting to demolish silos in some way; either through currently having some combination of dynamic processes and supporting software or through plans to implement them within a year’s time.

If your company is part of the 37% that has no plans to address this, you need to reconsider the capabilities of other companies you will be competing with in the future as they continue to put in adaptable processes and software in place.

Take the Next Step in Silo Demolition

Interested in learning more about how leading companies can jump start Operational Excellence programs, break down silos, and become more customer-responsive?

Join Mark Davidson (@markymarketing) from LNS Research (@LNSResearch) for the upcoming webcast, “Accelerating Operational Excellence for Global and Regional Manufacturers,” which will educate attendees on the best ways to align their key resources—people, processes, and technology, to achieve their manufacturing and overall business goals.

Matthew Littlefield

Matthew Littlefield is President and Principal Research Analyst at LNS Research. His coverage areas include Enterprise Quality Management Software, Manufacturing Operations Management, Asset Performance Management, Sustainability, and Industrial Automation 2.0. He writes about these and other topics at

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