Today’s challenges are unlike any the world has experienced before, and we wanted a better understanding of how they’re affecting manufacturers’ strategies, practices and performance. So we asked. In PwC’s 2021 COO Pulse Survey, we reveal how global manufacturing executives from more than 600 large companies are refocusing their plans and priorities as they look beyond the pandemic.
What follows are highlights for US industrials. We encourage you to also explore our interactive tool to uncover what manufacturing leaders around the globe are doing today to rethink and reconfigure for a stronger tomorrow.
While much of the pandemic’s jolting effects on the industry (particularly lockdowns) may be behind us, manufacturers are still bracing for persistent challenges over the next two years—especially when it comes to managing cybersecurity and supply chain risks.
It is clear that manufacturers are emerging from 2020 with plans to make their organizations more agile and secure. Top-priority areas of focus over the next two years include bolstering cybersecurity, expanding digital sales and marketing and making their supply chains more reliable and diverse.
The pandemic forced most manufacturers to cope with logistics snarls and chokepoints. Looking ahead to the next two years, most are placing top priorities on distribution efficiency and data collection and analytics, to improve the transparency and resilience of their distribution and logistics networks.
Workforce shortages played a central role in the massive disruptions at the height of the pandemic, and that experience will likely accelerate manufacturers’ efforts to increase automation and digitalization. Over the next two years, the majority of US manufacturers (53%) plan to increase workflow automation and nearly half (43%) plan to increase digital upskilling.
Increasing cybersecurity is the top priority for boards of US manufacturers as cyber attacks become the norm. Indeed, a recent survey by Dark Reading found that more than one-third of manufacturers are attacked every month. Other priorities for boards include containing costs, product quality and smart-factory initiatives.
Most manufacturers are ramping up their ESG tracing initiatives on numerous fronts: more than 75% are measuring their energy efficiency, followed by health and safety of products (72%) and greenhouse gas emissions (68%). However, despite this activity, one-third of manufacturers are not measuring their environmental compatibility, signaling that the industry still has much room for improvement in ESG tracking.