ntt-communications-logoA survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2016, and asked over 300 senior business executives and IT decision-makers from large retail, manufacturing, and wholesale corporations in China, Hong Kong and Singapore how they are investing in disruptive technologies, and the challenges they face with it. NTT Communications, the ICT solutions and international communications business, commissioned IDG Connect to conduct the survey, and announced the results of “The Digital Silk Road to Success” this week. Not surprisingly, a large majority – 94% – of the organizations surveyed said they already have plans in place to utilize two or more disruptive technologies in their businesses, to accelerate digital transformation and boost their competitiveness. This certainly worked for UPS a few months ago, when they expanded their on-demand 3D printing network to Singapore.

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NTT Com Asia Ltd at Global Internet Technology Conference (GITC) 2016 in Beijing. Themed “The Original Power of Technology”, the conference attracted over thousands of enterprise IT executives and partners to join, share and discuss the latest trends and technologies. [Image: NTT Com Asia via Facebook]

The corporations surveyed employ anywhere from 250 to 3,000 people around the world, so there were some pretty big players here. Nearly 80% of those surveyed feel pretty positive about the business outlook in 2017, even though the challenges facing them include competition, price pressure, increasing costs and wages, and a shortage of talent. Of the disruptive technologies that the companies plan to deploy, the Internet of Things (IoT) (60%) and big data analytics (58%) are the most popular choices. While organizations have been a little more hesitant to adopt AI, smart robotics, and 3D printing, more than 60% of the companies surveyed made it known that they plan to add one or more of these technologies to their business plan for the next year.

“The success of retail, manufacturing and wholesale industries relies heavily on an efficient supply chain ecosystem where companies’ ability to trace and visualize the bilateral flow of goods, information and cash throughout the value chain at a given moment has become ever more critical. Asian companies have extensively applied IoT and big data to capture real-time business intelligence from all the touchpoints, and overcome business blind spots in the ecosystem. Though combining IoT and big data is far from new, it is the recent extensive application of these disruptive technologies that is proving to be a game changer for the supply chain,” said Raymond Ng, Vice President, Vertical Solutions, NTT Com Asia.

While some of these companies seemed more reluctant to adopt 3D printing, we know that the technology is expanding around the world, and has played an increasingly important role in the rise of Industry 4.0, which describes an ongoing trend of automation and data exchange with emerging technologies like additive manufacturing, robotics, and virtual/augmented reality. Talk about a game changer – just look at the Squink! This multilayer PCB printer, which prints conductive traces on circuit boards and other materials like Kapton and ceramics, just finished a $1M seed round of financing a few months ago.

survey-resultsThough the corporations that completed the NTT survey appreciate the value that disruptive technologies like 3D printing can bring, they do cite some challenges that are holding them back from diving right in. Some 50% of the organizations surveyed said the top three things causing their hesitation are rigid data security and compliance regulations, legacy IT, and the complexity of sourcing the right technologies and suppliers for the job.

“Strategically selecting a mix of disruptive technologies to overhaul the supply chain is only the first step of a successful digital transformation journey,” Ng said. “It all comes down to three important determining factors – the readiness of infrastructure, connected technology and people to make sense of data to derive actionable business intelligence.”

So, in order to speed up the business transformation once they adopt their chosen technologies, over 60% of respondents say they’ll outsource transformation projects in order to reduce cost and deployment time, and get cross domain expertise from their suppliers. Even this could present its own unique challenges: the suppliers are expected to have a good understanding of the needs of different sectors, the flexibility to handle ever-changing business environments, and the technological know-how and capabilities to supply cross-platform support.

You can download the survey Whitepaper here, or watch the video to get more information:

Discuss in the Digital Silk Road forum at 3DPB.com.

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