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Manufacturing Leadership Council Announces 2013/2014 'Critical Issues' Agenda: New Focus on Cybersecurity and Advocacy

Posted By Paul Tate, August 12, 2013 at 3:56 AM, in Category: Manufacturing Leadership Community

The Manufacturing Leadership Council and its Board of Governors have established a new Critical Issues Agenda for the manufacturing industry for 2013/2014. The new Critical Issues agenda anticipates and identifies the most important issues facing the manufacturing industry over the next 12 months.

This year the Council has added Cybersecurity to the agenda as a Critical Issue for the first time, reflecting the growing importance of digital security issues to the increasingly automated manufacturing sector.

Council members have also strengthened their focus on Manufacturing Advocacy for 2013/2014, seeking ways to highlight the economic, social and innovation role of the manufacturing sector among governments, associations, academia and the next generation workforce.

Factories of the Future, Transformative Technologies, Innovation, Redefining the Supply Chain, Adaptability, Sustainability, Next-Generation Leadership and The Changing Workforce, are also identified as the most important issues facing both large and small manufacturing companies in the year ahead (see full descriptions below).

The Critical Issues Agenda is entirely industry-driven, reflecting insights from across the manufacturing sector. It is the result of an extensive consultation process with over 100 senior executive members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council and the Manufacturing Leadership Board of Governors.

The Agenda is reviewed extensively each year and covers both current topical concerns and longer-term trends across the industry, all of which are set to have a significant impact on the way manufacturers do business.

“The new Critical Issues Agenda is an agenda for progress for the industry at large and drives the Manufacturing Leadership Council's work in creating a better future for manufacturing," said David R. Brousell, vice president & editorial director at The Manufacturing Leadership Council. "The agenda helps manufacturers of all sizes and in all industry sectors to focus on today's most pressing issues and uncover tomorrow's most promising opportunities."

What are the critical issues facing your manufacturing business? Add your comments below, start discussions on the Manufacturing Leadership Community website, or apply to join the Manufacturing Leadership Council to help create a better future for manufacturing.

For more information on the Manufacturing Leadership Council and how to become a member - click here.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council’s Critical Issues Agenda For 2013/2014

1/ The Adaptive Organization

The speed and flexibility with which manufacturing leaders effectively anticipate and respond to rapid and often complex market and business changes and risks increasingly determines their organization’s success.

Whether they face unexpected business disruption, unforeseen environmental or political events, sudden competitive attack, the move to solutions-based platforms, industry convergence, or major market shifts, both large and SMB manufacturers need to ensure their enterprises are in a constant state of readiness by developing highly adaptive processes and working cultures that can identify and meet the multitude of business challenges, both today and tomorrow.  

  • Adaptive leadership best practices that support proactive and predictive decision-making and more responsive enterprise cultures
  • Critical operational flexibility and adaptability across all manufacturing assets, networks, and partnerships
  • Balancing adaptive change with fundamental core values

2/ Cybersecurity 

All manufacturing enterprises are becoming increasingly technology-enabled, and technology-dependent, in the way they run their businesses.

All also face rising challenges in understanding and responding to a host of new digital vulnerabilities and national regulations. Such cyber threats may take the form of internal disruption, accidental or deliberate, partner network security breaches, and outright external hacking and attack.

Protecting a manufacturing company’s most valuable physical, digital and intellectual assets from cyber disruption is now essential to operational continuity and corporate security in today’s digital business world. 

  • Identifying key enterprise vulnerabilities: internal, external, IT systems, plant floor, partners, suppliers and new technologies
  • Best practice security strategies for protecting physical, digital and intellectual assets
  • Challenges in compliance with the increasing number of cyber security regulations around the world

3/ Factories of the Future

In order to serve the increasing variety of customer requirements now emerging across multiple markets around the world, both large and SMB manufacturers must envision, plan and organize their factories and plants to provide a cohesive network of flexible capabilities -- quick response, rapid reconfigurability, the intelligent harvesting and management of information, on-demand personalization capabilities, more sustainable practices, and more cost-effective and efficient production strategies.

To achieve this, manufacturers must become aware of, understand, and embrace the possibilities in new and evolving production models and technologies to create more flexible, automated and intelligent factories for the future.

  • Process digitization and highly integrated, flexible, predictive, production networks
  • Collaborative decision-making with employees, customers and partners
  • Make-to-order, modular production platforms organized locally and globally

4/ The Innovative Enterprise

Rapid, continuous innovation is now essential to driving business growth and competitive success for both large and small-to-medium sized manufacturers in today’s increasingly intense and fast-changing global marketplace.

The manufacturing function itself has a key role to play in enabling innovation and creating the winning innovation cultures, strategies, processes, products and new business models that can deliver greater value to customers and other stakeholders.

  • Enterprise-wide innovation cultures, metrics and ‘breakthrough’ processes
  • End-to-end innovation – across all functional areas of the manufacturing    enterprise, from product design to post-sale service and support. 
  • pen, collaborative innovation with external partners, suppliers and customers

5/ Manufacturing Advocacy

Ensuring that manufacturing has a voice and that its members’ views are heard is vital to the future of the industry. Both large and SMB manufacturers are passionate about what they do, and wish to express and exchange their opinions and ideas for the benefit of their colleagues, the industry as a whole, and the future development of the global economy.

Manufacturing plays critical role as an engine of both national and regional economic growth, a platform for social improvement and employment, and a rich source of innovation. These important contributions need to be clearly articulated and communicated to governments, educational establishments, the general media, and leading public bodies around the world – both by MLC directly, and in collaboration with other manufacturing groups.

  • Platforms to help promote manufacturing’s key economic, educational and social role
  • Insights into how manufacturers can better work together to influence and respond to government policies – as well as legislative and regulatory actions.
  • Strategies to improve the image of manufacturing as a vibrant, clean, career-rich, innovation-driven industry

6/ Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

Globalization, changing customer demographics and expectations, new competition, disruptive technologies and changing workforce dynamics are transforming the role of leadership in manufacturing.

This means leaders, no matter what size their enterprise, must establish and reinforce a clear vision and strategic agenda while actively engaging employees, creating and nurturing a supportive culture throughout the organization, and developing and implementing strategies for identifying, attracting, and retaining the people and skills required in the future.

  • Leadership best practices and effective collaborative decision-making
  • Attitudes, expectations, and behaviors of a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce
  • The skills gap, education, apprenticeships, and attracting tomorrow’s workforce

7/ Redefining The Supply Chain

As customer expectations rise and global competition becomes more dynamic and intense, both large and SMB manufacturers face the challenge of redefining their supply chains to make them more resilient to risk, operate faster and more efficiently, reflect geographical shifts in both supply and demand, and deliver increasing levels of customer value.

Today’s global supply chains are increasingly affected by global forces, rising complexity, and are often subject to economic and other risks that may be beyond management control. Manufacturing leaders must now be able to quickly and continuously restructure and optimize their global supply chains through network design and collaboration to create more responsive value networks for the future.

  • Global, regional and national supply chain redesign and transformation
  • Resilience to natural, political, economic and competitive risk factors
  • Supplier quality, visibility, transparency, collaboration, and innovation

8/ Sustainability

Sustainability strategies are no longer simply about reducing the carbon footprint. They must now encompass a wide range of environmental, social and economic policies designed to support a manufacturing company’s sustainable business future.

From the impact of sustainability laws around the world, to extending sustainable practices across the supply chain, to energy efficiency, to building sustainability directly into products, to product return and recycling policies, manufacturing companies of all sizes must recognize and respond to the latest sustainability initiatives to protect their brands, maximize cost efficiencies, and respond to growing customer concerns to ensure commercial continuity and good corporate citizenship.

  • Thought-leading environmental, social, and economic sustainability initiatives
  • Energy efficiency – the impact of new and alternative energy sources
  • Responding to global, regional, and national environmental legislation and regulations

9/ Transformative Technologies

Large or small, manufacturers face an accelerating flow of promising new technologies, any one of which may present a valuable opportunity to quickly transform critical business processes and gain competitive advantage.

Manufacturing leaders must understand how to identify, adopt, and leverage the right emerging technologies as enablers of rapid process transformation, and their potential impact on efficiency, responsiveness, complexity, scalability, predictive capability and resilience. 

  • Collaborative technologies such as social media and mobile platforms
  • New information technology tools such as cloud computing, big data analytics, simulation, and visualization
  • Advanced robotics, biometric materials, nano-technology, transformational production approaches such as 3D printing / additive manufacturing 

About The Manufacturing Leadership Council

The Manufacturing Leadership Council, part of Frost & Sullivan, is the world’s first, member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior exectuives in the manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Leadership Council’s mission is to help senior executives define and shape a better future for themselves, their organizations, and the industry at large. The Council produces an extensive portfolio of leadership networking, information and professional development products, programs, and services  - including the Manufacturing Leadership Community Website, an online global business network with over 5,800 members around the world; the Manufacturing Leadership Council, an invitation-only executive organization of over 100 members; the annual Manufacturing Leadership SummitBold ideas for a Better Future (June 3-5, 2014 The Breakers, Palm Beach, Fl.); the Manufacturing Leadership Awards, celebrating industry achievement; and the thought-leading publication, the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. More information on www.ManufacturingLeadershipCommunity.com and www.MLCouncil.com.


Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive

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