Manufacturing Uncategorized

Business improvement through data analytics – are South African manufacturers ready?

Globally, the manufacturing industry has begun leapfrogging other sectors by applying analytics to a wide range of business areas, including finance, supply chain, marketing and product development. But do South African manufacturers understand how data analytics can improve their businesses? To what extent is this valuable tool used amongst South Africa’s manufacturers? These are some of the questions we have answered in our recent survey, conducted on over 40 of South Africa’s manufacturing executives.

By studying and understanding past and current data through analytics, companies can assess their weaknesses and opportunities, predict future trends and make business decisions about the way forward. Global manufacturing is changing at an exponential rate, and the importance of local manufacturers being globally competitive is evident. The findings of our survey will thus help South African manufacturers compare themselves with their global peers, inform their future strategies for success and shape and strengthen their analytics initiatives moving forward to improve their competitive positioning.

South African manufacturers are getting ready for MAnalytics

21% of our survey respondents already use analytics to a great extent. The majority of respondents agree that analytics will grow in importance over the next three years, and 50% believe this will yield a competitive advantage for their business.

A mixed analytics structure prevails amongst the majority of South African manufacturers

The preferred analytics structure of South African manufacturers is a mix of centralised and decentralised structures (72% of respondents). Analytics sits within different business functions and there is a great variety of ownership of analytics initiatives.

Different reasons for not using analytics and the challenges of getting real value

Half the surveyed South African manufacturers say that their organisation does not have a clear vision on how to benefit from analytics, and half state that they lack advocacy or sponsorship for analytics. Other challenges mentioned include, issues around data quality, inadequate technology infrastructures, and insufficient analytics talent and skills.

Many benefits of analytics and new opportunities are still untapped

95% of surveyed South African manufacturers see the greatest benefit of analytics being better

decision-making. This benefit of analytics may be more a belief than based on practice since the majority of respondents use less than 75% of their data to inform their decision-making. Other benefits of analytics that were highlighted include financial performance, risk awareness, improving design production processes, and customer relationship management.

There is little doubt that data analytics is becoming increasingly important for a number of industries. In light of these findings, South African manufacturers can take several steps to better position their businesses for future analytical competition and smart analytics leadership:


  • Focus on individual business functions – The successful completion of small analytics projects will help to build momentum and win sponsorship.
  • Generate value early and often – Implement analytics in bite-sized chunks that deliver incremental value in a timely manner.
  • Tie analytics into decision-making – More data could be leveraged for analytics, but better decisions do not necessarily happen with more and better data and analysis alone.
  • Acquire the necessary talent and skills – Since people with the necessary skills are difficult to hire, companies may want to start training and developing these skills in-house.
  • Apply analytics to marketing and customers – the best financial returns often come from marketing and customer-oriented applications.
  • Create more coordination for analytics – more structure around coordination, alignment and leadership is needed for all types of analytics management structures to realise the impact and benefits of a company’s data throughout the organisation.
  • Plan your strategy for analytics over time – Organisations should identify not only today’s projects but also those that will follow them over the next several years.
  • Lead from the business – The most effective analytics initiatives are driven by the business itself and not by IT.


Download the full report, to read more on how South Africans fair with respect to analytics in manufacturing, and what steps can be taken to be on par with world leaders in this space.

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Karthi Pillay (Africa Manufacturing Industry Leader)


Werner Swanepoel (Africa Leader: Risk Advisory Data Analytics)

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