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India manufacturers lag the world in using IT and leveraging engineering talent

Goutam Das     May 14, 2015

Goutam Das, Senior Associate Editor, Business Today
We live in an experience economy. That calls for products which not only work but are designed exceptionally well. Are Indian manufacturers geared for this paradigm?

We chatted with Chandan Chowdhury, Managing Director of Dassault Systemes India, and Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO of Greyhound Research.

Indian manufacturers, it emerges, still have a good distance to cover before they can fish out products that are zero-defect, let alone adapt processes that allow advanced analytics or crowdsourcing of ideas.

One could throw money and buy expensive equipment that makes the factory hum. But without a layer of modern information technology systems, manufacturers would be stuck with gaping holes in the whole cycle of design, production, inventory management and sales.

Greyhound Research recently conducted a survey of manufacturers in India. About 75 per cent of companies in India, it says, are still grappling with Manufacturing 1.0 and 2.0 stages - a fairly basic stage in layman words, or where a company already has systems of production and transaction.

Systems of production would imply IT systems that monitor supply-chain management and inventory management. Transaction systems include ERP.

And only 25 per cent of the companies it polled are either planning or executing Manufacturing 3.0 and beyond. That would mean companies investing in systems of engagement such as a social media engine that helps better engagement with the customer, or with vendors. It could also mean a system of insights or analytics.

Globally, manufacturers may have stolen a march over Indian companies. They are experimenting with new technology and crowdsourcing features.

Dassault's Chowdhury points to the American Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In 2011, it crowdsourced ideas from small businesses, universities and the public for a vehicle that can carry out combat supplies and medical evacuation. The agency received more than 150 designs and the vehicle took less than 14 weeks to build.

For 'Make in India' to succeed, Indian manufacturers may need to apply much more thought into how they use their IT systems and the engineering talent pool India has.

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