As a food manufacturer you’ll know better than most that customer demands change at an ever-increasing rate. By embracing digitalisation, you can not only combat those demands but also save costs and time in the new product development cycle, as well as across purchasing, production, logistics and ensure you remain traceable and compliant.
Think long-term not just short-term
While it is easy to get swept up in the hype around new technologies and innovations in the here and now, aligning with your customers means taking a long-term view of digital and creating a strategy that is scalable and sustainable in its ability to drive Return on Investment (ROI).
A robust strategy will not only bring the customer to the heart of your operations, it will additionally drive up the yield, quality and traceability of your products – which in itself meets your customer demands for quicker access to new products and ranges.
Being one of the first to embrace a new technology is often viewed as giving you the competitive edge but is that technology really right for you and your business? And, when fewer than 1 in 5 global companies have a digital leader in place, is the key to gaining a competitive edge and driving ROI simply leading on digitalisation in food manufacturing?
Don’t just focus on being an early adopter
The Diffusion of Innovations theory was first studied in an agricultural setting, when sociologists wanted to know how rural farmers were learning about the latest advances in agricultural technology. Creating the term ‘early adopters’ we all know today, but the study also categorised the ‘diffusion of innovation’ in the following ways:
- Innovators – the very first to test an innovation
- Early adopters – the one we are most familiar with, they invest when it is clear that the product has benefits
- Early majority – adopting a significant time after the first two groups
- Late majority – here’s where the fear of missing out kicks in
- Laggards – change averse 
But, where do you fit in? Becoming an early adopter isn’t necessarily always going to support your goal to drive incremental ROI across your food manufacturing business… nor do you want to be a laggard.
The most effective food manufacturers embrace digitalisation by creating a long-term strategy that allows them to embrace relevant, effective technologies specific to their business and their needs – meaning at times they could be considered Innovators, and at other times they could be in the Early Majority category.
The key here is to do what is right for your business at the right time –and ultimately this means what is right for your customer.
One of the building blocks to digitalisation
Automation is a bit of a buzzword across all industries as the digital revolution sees advancements in AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to creep into the everyday.
For food manufacturers, this gives you the opportunity to introduce technologies that communicate with each other, and as such reduce the capacity for human error right from field to fork – allowing you to remain compliant and traceable.
A classic example of this in action, is the use of Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFID) as inventory tags to streamline logistics operations and to reduce waste by providing vital shelf-life information on perishable items.
Automation can enable you to:
- Ensure food products not only meet, but exceed, the quality expected by the customer
- Boost efficiency and produce consumables according to specifications
- Keep products at the right temperature during transportation as well as on the shelves, with the right correct price and label information
If technology can do all of this for you, surely it makes good business sense to embrace digitalisation by creating a strategy that incorporates automated and smart technologies that work for your business at the right time.
Actioning a digital strategy
Digitalising your business will undoubtedly bring you closer to your customer as the improvement in processes, thanks to a unified strategy, leads to greater customer satisfaction. So where are you in your journey to digitalisation – are you thriving or surviving?