Most companies are aware of the likely benefits of a highly-customized global supply chain. But a good number of these are yet to be fully digitized. Forbes reveals the findings of two recent studies that concluded: if manufacturing companies want to take full advantage of Industry 4.0, they need to move beyond the technology-only aspects of the strategy and take on the more challenging areas of CSR and sustainability.
Bottom Line: Manufacturers need to move forward with real-time integration between their CRM, ERP and PLM systems so their broader goals of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sustainability and Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) selling can be achieved.
Two recent studies from Deloitte Insights and Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) demystify Industry 4.0 by finding how widely manufacturers’ intentions vary from their results. Both found gaps between the manufacturers’ Industry 4.0 plans and results achieved so far. The Deloitte study found that 70% of manufacturing executives believe their organizations’ long-term success requires integration of Industry 4.0 technology, yet 10% say they have a long-range strategy to accomplish that. Deloitte Insight’s Industry 4.0: At The Intersection Of Readiness And Responsibility Readiness Report which can be downloaded here (PDF, 25 pp., no opt-in) and PwC’s Digital Product Development 2025 based on 200 in-depth interviews with manufacturers find that the ongoing labor shortage, ambitious sustainability goals, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives need to be included in Industry 4.0 pilots and production plans if they’re going to succeed. Making Industry 4.0 pay isn’t just about manufacturing technology; it’s about completely redefining how manufacturing operations work to achieve greater circular economy and sustainability results.
What’s noteworthy about both studies is how manufacturers who take an orchestrated approach to solving labor, sustainability and CSR as part of their Industry 4.0 strategies get the best results and more revenue. Integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems to enable every team to know in real-time how their work affects others is key. The following are the key insights from each study:
- PwC finds that Digital Champions, or those who excel at combining CRM, ERP and PLM systems that deliver real-time insights, achieve a 31% increase in product development efficiency. PwC’s findings reinforce Deloitte’s findings regarding Industry 4.0 adoption being driven by the need to make a profit by positively contributing to society. Once Industry 4.0 is designed to also fuel greater sustainability and CSR results, time-to-market and production cost reductions flourish. Digital product development is expected to increase efficiency 19%, reduce time-to-market by 17% and reduce production costs by 13% of the next five years as the graphic from PwC illustrate below:
- Digital Champions are 2X as likely to rely on customer data to optimize new and existing products and services, further underscoring how critical it is to have an integrated CRM, ERP and PLM system that enables greater CPQ and product configuration personalization. 73% of Digital Champions rely on customer input for new and existing products and services while just 31% of Digital Novices do. Digital Champions are also going to become even more reliant on CPQ and product configuration strategies in the next three years given the aggressive forecast they have of 26% of their products being available in personalized configurations.
- 14% of Digital Champions earn more than 30% of their revenues from fully-digital products and services, further underscoring how important CPQ and product configuration are in Industry 4.0. Conversely, Digital Novices generate just 8% of revenues from new products and services. Digital Champions are industry leaders when it comes to CPQ and product configuration, outpacing Digital Innovators, Digital Followers, and Digital Novices by a wide margin as the graphic on the far right shows. PwC’s results quantify how important it is to have real-time integration between CRM, ERP and PLM systems that deliver greater accuracy, speed and cost savings for CPQ and product configuration customers.
- Integrating CRM, ERP and PLM systems gives Digital Champions the insights they need to fine-tune processes and products faster than competitors. PwC and Deloitte both found that manufacturers who double down on data quality, analytics and machine learning far outperform their competitors when it comes to improving customer experiences and speeding up new product development. The following graphic compares Digital Champions’ performance versus peers.
Manufacturers need to decide if they are completely committed to Industry 4.0 or not, and if they are, move beyond the technology-only aspects of the strategy and take on the more challenging areas of CSR and sustainability. Deloitte, PwC and other advisory firms are finding a wide gap between manufacturers’ intentions and results when it comes to Industry 4.0. It’s not only about the wide variety of technologies that are getting overhyped in the Industry 4.0 arena today. Rather, it’s about how those technologies can be orchestrated to move a manufacturer forward with their CSR, environmental and sustainability goals. Only then can CPQ and product configuration strategies find more revenue growth by also helping make a manufacturer more sustainable, social responsible and admired by customers.