Transforming a Manufacturing Chain? Consider the Benefits of APIs

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A factory representing a manufacturing chain.

Digital transformation is happening rapidly, especially following the pandemic. Those who do not implement key strategies will be left behind. Some industries are adapting more quickly than others. However, few have unlocked digital technologies' full potential, including the manufacturing industry. Transforming a manufacturing chain requires integrating and applying advanced digital technologies, but many remain wary, despite growing evidence that digital adoption supports ongoing growth. 

A McKinsey study found that the average manufacturing supply chain has a digitalization level of 43%, the lowest of the five business areas examined. Even more surprisingly, just 2% of surveyed executives said supply chain management focuses on their digital strategies. There are plenty of opportunities to scale, significantly affecting annual revenue growth. However, transforming a manufacturing chain takes time, planning, and digital tools. 

One such strategy for transforming a manufacturing chain is application programming interfaces (APIs). Integrating API-led connectivity will allow manufacturers to build a platform that supports greater internal collaboration across the manufacturing ecosystem. When transforming a manufacturing chain, here's how APIs can help. Plus, how to get started. 

Learn more about the seven steps to building an API ecosystem

The Importance of Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry

There's plenty of talk surrounding the concept of the "Industry 4.0" revolution and the evolution of smart factories in the manufacturing industry. Gartner has published plenty of research on the subject, focusing on everything from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to the Internet of Things (IoT).

The latest technologies are innovative and disruptive, allowing manufacturing companies of all sizes to capitalize on more intelligent production. Although these emerging technologies yield many benefits, the emergence of these digital capabilities also brings new challenges. Increasing customer expectations means that manufacturers must implement the latest digital tools to remain competitive.

By taking this leap toward digital transformation, you will benefit from greater optimization, automation, and modernization. As a result, your company can decrease time to market, collaborate across the value chain, improve the customer experience, harness the power of real-time insights, and more. 

The key is to integrate an internal digital platform strategy that will improve the entire manufacturing value chain, targeting your ability to sell, execute, distribute, and develop new service capabilities — which is where APIs come into play. 

The API economy is not just for tech companies. In some cases, APIs are offered because of regulation, such as in the banking or healthcare industry. Others seek the power of APIs due to disruption, including those in retail, media, and manufacturing. 

If your goal is to embrace technologies like automation or robotics, APIs make it possible. Thanks to greater connectivity, you can spot potential supply chain issues before they happen. However, greater supply chain visibility is just the beginning. 

Read more about what digital transformation means for different industries.

Transforming a Manufacturing Chain With APIs

When looking at some of the most disruptive companies in recent history, such as Netflix and Amazon, they have leveraged technology to alter the way products and services are developed, sold, and distributed. The ability to connect individuals, businesses, and machines in a digital web has driven their success. These real-time connections are dynamic and are generally powered by APIs.

The implementation of APIs will drive efficiency, allowing you to become more agile while transforming a manufacturing chain. For manufacturing, the value chain includes everything from the raw materials used to make products to the steps required to bring those products to market. This means you need to consider design, production, marketing, and distribution. 

APIs are what bring applications together, helping you:

  • Better connect with, engage, and serve customer demands by optimizing business processes and pricing. This will support the end-user and encourage growth. 
  • Grow your partners and empower employees. Shared data will help reduce silos to improve insight and workflow. 
  • Innovate while transforming a manufacturing chain to reduce costs and add value through predictive measures to benefit from more accurate metrics and forecasting.

To Begin Transforming a Manufacturing Chain, Follow These Steps

  1. Create a digital strategy – Transforming a manufacturing chain begins with focusing on what business challenges the API platform you create needs to solve. For example, is your goal to improve customer engagement? Would you like to launch new products and rapidly build new revenue channels? Once you define the challenge and the solution, focus on your target audience when designing, sharing, and updating the APIs supporting your digital platform. Consider your current business models, digital supply chain, etc.
  2. Align organization and culture – You must install an API-driven culture to shift toward successful API implementation. It is not enough to increase the use of APIs. The company must understand how to benefit from APIs while remaining mindful of cybersecurity risks
  3. Implement APIs – Now, you must design your API architecture and build supporting APIs. Since manufacturing organizations are not set up to build API management solutions in the vast majority of cases, when transforming a manufacturing chain, you should seek a platform that offers access to instant, auto-generated APIs
  4. Develop your ecosystem – You must ensure your APIs meet business objectives. As the adoption of APIs picks up, seek feedback so that you can continue to update your API platform over time. 

Dive deeperComprehensive API Management Platforms: Who Has the Most Features?

How DreamFactory Can Help

Transforming a manufacturing chain doesn't need to be an overwhelming process. Want to enjoy the benefits of APIs without the complexity?

DreamFactory is a full-service SaaS API management platform offering low-code and no-code options. With DreamFactory, you can generate, secure, and deploy unlimited APIs to achieve a unified view of all your integrations. 

Register today to try DreamFactory for free.

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