Read the full article in SmartIndustry’s 2022 Crystal Ball Report.

The aggressive adoption of strategies that increase worker productivity and bridge communication gaps will be crucial in the coming year for manufacturers to keep pace with economic demands and an increasingly competitive landscape. 2022 will usher in an era of Connected Workers as the industry is forced to address a generational skills gap and accelerate digital transformation by prioritizing data-driven business tools.

The industry depends on engaging the next generation.

One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers today is attracting and retaining new talent, especially among Millennials and Gen-Z, to help address a skills gap that is on track to leave 2.1 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2030. The “Great Resignation,” or the widespread trend of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to make its impact on the industry as workers demand that their voices be heard.

More than 96% of younger workers already have smartphones, so mobile Connected Worker applications will be critical in engaging this generation. Since younger workers expect to use digital technologies in the workplace, adopting new mobile applications is less likely to cause any friction or time-consuming training sessions. In addition, the right mobile applications lead to increased engagement, and the ability to capture critical data and best practices from the most knowledgeable workers. By allowing companies to unlock data and find out what’s happening in real-time, leaders can identify patterns and trends and act quickly on the information.

According to IDC, by 2022, 70% of all organizations will have accelerated the use of digital technologies, and mobile Connected Worker applications will transform existing business processes to drive worker productivity and business resiliency. Organizations that implement applications that enable worker productivity and engage workers in safety and quality will emerge as leading employers and retain and recruit the best talent. Mobile connected worker applications provide in-the-moment worker support and also capture actionable worker knowledge and feedback that enable continuous improvements.

Digital is no longer optional.

Companies still on paper and with no digital transformation plans are already behind and those who are in the midst of or completing digital transformation will have the competitive advantage. As McKinsey notes, digital is no longer optional. Investing in mobile Connected Worker applications that capture data in real-time will be key for business leaders at this critical stage in industrial innovation. Capitalizing on the use of data from frontline workers gives businesses greater insight into operational analytics to better track metrics and indicators. Organizations are gaining insights through mobile Connected Worker applications, unlike data trapped on paper and electronic forms. Data captured digitally provides leading indicators that support real-time visibility for decision making, workforce engagement, and continuous improvement. 

As the industry continues to face the residual economic impacts of the pandemic in 2022, manufacturers are adopting an increasingly cost-conscious mindset and constantly seeking to do more with less. As a result, many companies have shifted spending towards digital solutions that support increased agility and better risk management, making them more resilient in the wake of tough times. 

The future of work relies on data from a productive workforce.

Industry and market trends will continue to further catalyze organizational changes in 2022, driving companies toward the future of work and an increasingly connected workforce. Data insights, worker engagement and overall improved organization will remain top priorities. Companies who leverage mobile Connected Worker applications will be more resilient in the face of future challenges and accelerate digital transformation by proactively addressing real-time findings in safety, quality, and operations for determining overall trends on the floor and evaluating process efficacy.

Read the full article in SmartIndustry’s 2022 Crystal Ball Report.