KPMG recently released their 2018 Global Manufacturing Outlook, a survey of 300 CEOs, part of a larger study which involved obtaining data from 1300 CEOs in 11 countries.
The results point to larger trends in business and are relevant far beyond manufacturing. All of the trends we know about are represented there - digital transformation, with growing use of artificial intelligence and the consequent encroachment on human activity by machines. This is probably the biggest worry to people working in manufacturing - or most other businesses.
The survey shows that this will increase in intensity, along with greater integration and collaboration across the world among companies. Of course this leads to the need for people to constantly learn new skills, which is not new but now a permanent part of the landscape. For example, there is a strong indication that the need for data scientists will continue to grow.
We started to hear about change becoming the only constant back in the 1960s. Since then, that has been a fact of life. But now the pace of change has accelerated to the point that it is likely to bring about radical societal change. Of course, this will bring resistance from some quarters. Some people always resist change. So the study identifies a resurgence of territoriality (political and economic) as one of the major risks of doing business over the next twenty years. Of course, we see this already.
In a broad sense, the transformation going on today boils down to a huge exercise in change management, with a need for strong leadership, clear foresight, good strategic planning, and tight management of the risks. It's change management on steroids.
The survey is available on the KPMG website.