Physical Operations Leaders Invest in Workforce and Tech

The leaders of physical operations-led organisations are focusing investment on supply chain improvements, employee skills, and sustainability strategies to reinvent their operations in 2023, reveals a new 2023 State of Connected Operations Report, from Samsara, the pioneer of the Connected Operations™ Cloud.

The report draws on perspectives from more than 1,500 physical operations leaders across nine countries, including 300 in the UK and Ireland, to uncover the strategies leaders are pursuing to build new revenue streams, leverage emerging technologies, and rise above economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

The research shows that 72% of leaders in the UK and Ireland are increasing their technology budgets this year, and going all-in on generative artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and digital workflows in 2023. Notably, the Connected Operations Leaders—those who reported the highest level of digital maturity–were 6x more likely to exceed their financial goals by 25% or more.

“There is no denying that monumental shifts are underway in operations. Leaders across the UK and Ireland are making investments aimed at strengthening their organisations and improving the customer experience for millions of people,” said Jeff Hausman, Chief Product Officer at Samsara. “Our research shows that those who have made digital transformation a key priority are better equipped to bring their organisations into the future, with many expecting positive change and return on investment as soon as the next 12-18 months.”

The State of Connected Operations report reveals four key priorities for leaders in the UK and Ireland this year, and their predictions for the future.

Reworking Supply Chains and Technology Budgets to Build Resiliency

The importance of operational visibility is growing and driving investments. Supply chain delays and shortages, volatile fuel prices, and the risk of recession are the top three concerns of leaders in the UK and Ireland. To increase supply chain predictability and efficiency, 57% plan to move operations back to their country of origin, known as onshoring, this year. Real-time operations data is a competitive advantage and critical for decision-making for 97% of leaders in the UK and Ireland (compared to 90% globally). As such, 72% are increasing their technology budgets this year (compared to 67% globally).

Out with the Old—in with AI, Automation, and Digital Workflows

With boosting efficiency top of mind, leaders are leaning into generative artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. By 2024, 83% of leaders in the UK and Ireland plan to use generative AI and 92% automation to modernise their operations. Further, 56% are already using or plan to use autonomous vehicles and/or equipment this year. Leaders are also scrapping pen-and-paper processes for digital workflows, and by 2025 they predict 58% of their employees in the field will rely on digital workflows to perform day-to-day tasks.

Investing in Workforce Development isn’t a Perk, it’s a Priority

The future of work is rapidly changing as technology transforms legacy ways of getting work done. Consider in just two years, leaders predict 1 in 6 employees will be doing jobs that don’t exist today. This helps illustrate why more than half (56%) report teaching employees how to use new technologies is a top priority this year.

Using Sustainability as Fuel for New Revenue Streams

Investments in sustainability are leading to the invention of new operating models. Leaders in the UK and Ireland are planning to monetise EVs through pay-per-use or subscription charging stations (58%) and sell energy back to the grid (59%) by 2025. At this time, leaders predict 55% of their organisations’ fleet vehicles will be electric or hybrid.

Hausman added, “The bottom-line benefits of digitisation are clear, but it’s the positive impact on lives and the environment that will be the most incredible to see. These leaders are shaping what we’ll remember as a transformative decade in physical operations.”

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