Most companies still not taking full advantage of 3D printing, AI and IoT, according to survey of CEOs

Jun 10, 2017 | By David

We have seen countless examples of the ways in which 3D printing technology can improve the performance of a business and completely revolutionize the way it operates. A recent survey carried out by Gartner, however, has shown that company executives are not taking advantage of the full potential of this and other cutting-edge technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. The 388 CEOs and other senior execs rated these new technologies ‘very low’ in terms of the improvements they thought they could have on productivity in the next five years.

Rapid prototyping opportunities offered by 3D printing can speed up a business’s production cycle, and A.I allows everyday tasks to be carried out with improved efficiency. However, there seems to be no clear roadmap as to how these and other technological breakthroughs can be implemented, and maybe also a lack of awareness of the full extent of their potential benefits. According to a summary of the survey by Gartner analyst Mark Raskino, “There seems to be a big, unexplored future. That [future] amounts to a leapfrog opportunity for a new generation of brave and creative business technology thinkers.”

3D printing, the Internet of Things, A.I and Blockchain are collectively categorized by Gartner as general purpose technologies (GPTs). Their potential for reinventing a business’s operating model have led Gartner to carry out this survey and recommend their adoption. When asked what their top enabling technology for improving productivity was, only 2 percent of CEOs declared that it was the IoT, and just 1 percent declared that it was 1 of the other 3 GPTs. Older technology like ERP (10 percent) and cloud computing or analytics (7 percent each) fared much better.3D printing technology was described as potentially transformational to their business by 26 percent of the executives surveyed, a relatively low figure, with 49 percent declaring the same of the IoT.

Raskino claims that a lot of CEOs are stuck in the older industrial manufacturing era in terms of how they think about their business and the markets they compete in. “CEOs lack a major new theory,” he wrote. “The really big management ideas of the past like business process management (BPM), total quality management (TQM) and lean [management] are less helpful in an ephemeral product and services world where social networks, business model innovation, design thinking, brand values and customer experiences are at the center of value creation.’’

Almost half of the CEOs in the survey said that they rely entirely on revenue as a measure of productivity. This is limiting, as these kind of revenue metrics fail “to focus management attention squarely on how many units of value are produced per amount of input.” Relatively few of the businesses in question, about 15 to 25 percent, did any measurement of the specific impact newer technologies like 3D printing were having. Jack Gold, an analyst for J. Gold Associates, said that most execs were relying on ‘seat of the pants guessing’. “Most companies, including high-level execs, hear about all the new technology coming and expect it to affect their companies,” he said. “But most also have no idea how” to bring about an impact.

Forbes has recommended that companies start small with implementation of GPTs, so progress can be measured in more detail, with advantages and disadvantages identified every step along the way. Raskino’s conclusion was that creativity and openness is going to be the most important thing for executives who want to improve their productivity through 3D printing and other technologies- a “new generation of breakthrough, creative CIOs for the second half of the information age.’’

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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