We recently had the privilege of hosting a small, curated group of manufacturing leaders in Asia – Pune (India) to participate in a discussion about “Installed Base and AI”. The group consisted of a variety of local, as well as Indian subsidiaries of multinational machinery manufacturers building and servicing a wide variety of equipment across a variety of industries. In other words, a fairly representative subset of the industrial world.
We had an excellent, engaged discussion about 3 topics: the health of the market, the maturity of their Aftermarket growth initiatives, and finally, the application of AI to address some of the opportunities and challenges they face.
In marked contrast to the sentiment we hear from US and EU companies, this group was extremely bullish about their near and mid-term prospects. That was both surprising and not. You don’t need to be a terribly observant person to realize that India is on a significant investment cycle: roads, rail, bridges, airports…you name it, you see it being built. In addition, the flight from China is real; we heard of many companies starting or expanding their Indian manufacturing operations. Of course, these changes won’t ripple through overnight but the spending is real.
Secondly – Aftermarket, a topic near and dear to our hearts – is relatively immature. Most manufacturers are reactive, don’t have an adequate investment in tech, and are also struggling with the availability of technical personnel. One of the participants said “If I can get more technical talent I could double my services business easily” which is similar to what we hear in the US and EU markets as well. We are just beginning to hear of CRM and Field Service Management implementations, but still very nascent in the application of technology.
Finally – AI or broadly speaking data analytics in these companies is in its early stages of investment. Several participants were dabbling in various approaches but it wasn’t clear that there was a critical mass of use cases and applications prevalent amongst the attendees. However, there is a hunger to see how data, AI, and software can enable these companies to “skip generations” vis a vis the various investment cycles were undertaken in more mature economies.
However, the common theme in each of the AI discussions was the realization that ensuring data quality is of paramount importance, but scant attention has been paid to this topic by most attendees. One manufacturer who is in the midst of an investment in FSM told us they had spent a year cleaning and preparing data to be of acceptable quality and further invested in a MDM team for “manual inspection”.
Thanks to all our participants for making this a meaningful first event for us!!