App Love in Manufacturing

Mobile devices and the apps we load onto to them are part of our lives. They help us manage our day, multi-task and access information with a touch of a button.

The debate, though, continues: Does fiddling around with apps during working hours improve productivity or are they distracting time-wasters? How much app love should be allowed in the workplace?

The policies, of course, have to be customized for each work place, but if there are kudos to be had, those working in manufacturing may show the way to others. When compared to other professional sectors, such as finance, healthcare and legal, there appears to be more app love in the manufacturing industry, according to a report from Softchoice.

The Tech Overload is Overblown (Cloud Apps & the Happiness Effect) study, which looks at how cloud app adoption impacts workplace engagement and satisfaction, found that people working in manufacturing businesses lead in cloud app use, autonomy and policy creation. About 67% of the manufacturing employees surveyed said they are using one to five cloud apps for work. That's higher than the 62% average across all the 1,000 survey respondents from the United States and Canada, Softchoice found.

Some other telling findings putting manufacturing in a good light include:

  • Strong professional and personal crossover. Sixty-nine precent of manufacturing people polled said they can use some of the same apps for work as they do in their personal lives.
  • Employer-driven apps to support internal operations. About 44% of manufacturing respondents said that their employer offers proprietary apps for staff use.
  • IT departments provide technical know-how . More than half of manufacturing employees claimed that their IT departments are responsive about providing access to the new tools they need to do their jobs.
  • Manufacturing companies are better at defining app usage policies. About 64% said their companies clearly communicate their policies on app usage, compared to the 59% average.

One of the factors that may be driving increased cloud app adoption, acceptance and usage among North American manufacturing employees could be linked to the reshoring effort, Softchoice said. The company's thinking is that, perhaps, the push to bring factories back to the U.S. is compelling North American manufacturers to rethink their operations, improve their supply chains practices and search for greater efficiency.

The manufacturing sector's track record of developing, offering and supporting cloud apps could also signal the industry's potential for continued innovation, Softchoice speculates.

Softchoice's thinking may not be too far off when looking at the bigger picture of what's happening in manufacturing these days.

Next-generation factory development will inevitably depend on even more machine-to-machine communication. Manufacturing employees will have to monitor this interchange, respond effectively to red-flag alerts and communicate to other parts of the company and supply potential shop floor risks. Some of those practices will be embedded into a cloud-based app environment.

And, let's not forget the benefit apps could bring inventory and supply chain management. Namely, cloud apps could simplify interaction between partners, foster more collaboration, smooth out invoicing, consolidate data and provide greater transparency into inventory and delivery data.

What apps do you use at work? Which apps do you wish your employer would provide or allow you to use to better manage your supply chain or manufacturing activity? 

Take a look at the slideshow of some more of the study results by clicking on the image below. Then let us know what you think in the comments section.

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