Managers fail to appreciate IT advantages?

According to a study undertaken by Autodesk, most managers of SMEs over estimate the costs of using IT to streamline their design and processes.

A survey of 107 senior decision makers in January 2010 showed that 83% felt that it would take a rise of more than 10% in annual investment in design technology solutions to achieve 'improved margins', 37% felt that an increase of more than 50% in annual investments would be required to deliver 'accelerated speed to market' and 33% thought that a similar increase would be the minimum needed to attain 'reduced product development costs'.

However, according to Amina West (pictured), sales director of Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions Northern Europe, "This emphasis on cost is significant, particularly when you consider that manufacturers believe that the same commercial drivers seen as critical to their growth will also require the largest increases in design technology investment to achieve. These perceptions are understandable but they do not reflect the reality: that streamlined and efficient design technology solutions do not have to be expensive to implement and operate. At Autodesk, we believe we can address the inaccurate perception that they do – both through our cost-effective, easy-to-use digital design solutions and our focus on digital prototyping.

"With the UK Government now showing a renewed focus on the manufacturing sector and the market showing positive signs of recovery, it is important that outmoded attitudes to design innovation do not hamper this upturn. We need to highlight the message that the benefits of digital prototyping not only address the perceived drivers and barriers identified by the survey but also manufacturers' concerns about the high investment levels needed to achieve them. Digital prototyping allows manufacturers to optimise and validate their ideas before creating a product, helping to remove time and costs from the product development process, and get the 'right' product to market faster. Delivering quality is clearly as important here as speed. The market cost of poor quality is clearly illustrated by recent high-profile product recalls."

Respondents came from three primary sources: IMechE members, Autodesk customers, and manufacturers polled at a recent industry event. The majority of respondents worked for either original equipment manufacturers (55%) or contract manufacturers (25%).

Tom Shelley

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