Canadian Manufacturing

Manufacturers adopt digital strategy amid COVID-19

by Alanna Fairey, Associate Editor   

Manufacturing Research & Development Small Business Technology / IIoT

Manufacturers are already beginning to reap the benefits of a digital adoption strategy

Daniel Oh, Vice President of Sage’s Medium Business Segment

According to Sage’s recent report “Global distributors transform to adapt, survive and thrive”, Canadian manufacturers are currently facing huge external and internal pressures.

However, they are rising to the challenge, and they are putting in the hard work and resources required to transform, adapt, survive and thrive in this very unpredictable business climate, according to Daniel Oh, vice-president of Sage’s Medium Business Segment.

“The strategies that they’re using to overcome this are things such as IT modernization, cloud adoption emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, circular economy practices and Servitization,” Oh said in a recent interview with Canadian Manufacturing. “We’re seeing best-in-class manufacturers are investing strategically in digital transformation to help them achieve these goals.”

Oh shares that the COVID-19 has brought about years of change in the way that companies in all sectors and regions do business. Specifically with Canadian manufacturers, they have applied varying degrees of a digital transformation strategy.


“The results that we’re seeing suggests that the rates of digital transformation vary by industry, and it’s actually more closely aligned with the length of their product life-cycle versus whether they’re a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) company,” Oh explains.

Oh reiterates that, for example, an automotive manufacturer has typically long product life cycles, and these are organizations that have reported very low levels of change, whereas a food manufacturer or a pharmaceutical company have reported to jump nearly twice as large as those reported in automated mode of companies.

“Now’s the time that we want all manufacturers to assess and reassess their digital initiatives, so that they can invest in their plans and strategies really to thrive in this new normal,” Oh says.

Generally speaking, Oh says that almost all industries have seen some level of benefit to a digital adoption strategy. “Some of their advantages were around driving cost reductions, improve data security faster delivery, better customer service and experience and obviously greater efficiency and productivity,” Oh explains.

Manufacturers are already beginning to reap the benefits of a digital adoption strategy. Oh shared that Manitoba, Ont.-based Bee Maid Honey Ltd. had recently begun leveraging the Sage X3 solution to enhance the real-time visibility into their orders.

Oh adds that the addition of the Sage X3 has brought Bee Maid Honey’s visibility upstream to all of the different suppliers that they have, and downstream to their customers, which gave them a “really good” real-time view into their entire value chain.

“[Bee Maid Honey is] also using Sage X3 to improve food safety by simplifying and expediting collaboration across their business, sharing high resolution traceability and leveraging data driven, quality management and they’re doing this all in real time, or that wasn’t available to them before,” says Oh.

Unsurprisingly, Oh predicts that the digital changes to the manufacturing industry will come faster than one would think. While the COVID-19 pandemic has turned most of the world upside, it has also pushed forward a series of technological innovations that will only continue to benefit manufacturers when the health crisis is over.

“What we do know is that there are a number of emerging technologies that can provide significant advantages to Canadian manufacturers, like robotic process automation or warehouse automation and Internet of Things are going to be really critical, artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced data analytics 3D additive printing and blockchain,” Oh shares. “These are all technologies that are available today and I predict that they’re actually going to be ubiquitous with all manufacturers in the future.”

Concludes Oh: “The companies that are really thriving are those that are bold — they’re taking advantage and they’re testing and experimenting with a lot of these new technologies.”


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