A new survey from MakeUK reveals 1 in 8 manufacturers citing cyberattacks as a major deterrent from adopting new digital technologies, but nearly two-fifths finding improvements in their productivity from the introduction of these technologies, the connection is clear: Productivity in Britain’s manufacturing sector is inextricably linked with advancements in cybersecurity.
In 2021, Make UK surveyed manufacturers, finding that “…just under half of manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime in the last 12 months.” From these attacks, 63% of companies reported losses, and that’s why investing in cybersecurity tech topped the list of digital technologies and tools that make the biggest difference in improving productivity.
Of the manufacturers surveyed, about 10% found cybersecurity to be critical in improving their productivity, 25% found it made a lot of difference, a further 45% found it made some difference, while only 20% found it made no difference at all.
This placed cybersecurity’s impact on productivity ahead of robotics, additive manufacturing, and even cloud computing. As Make UK says, “…manufacturers understand that investing in manufacturing infrastructure impacts their productivity,” with cybersecurity being a key investment in that infrastructure.
And the importance of productivity to Britain’s manufacturers can’t be understated. Just under 40% of manufacturers see improved productivity as the top benefit they’ve already gained from adopting digital technologies, above improved quality, improved profitability, and faster time to market.
Meanwhile, over 60% of manufacturers list improved productivity as the top benefit they hope to gain going forward from digital technologies.
But these gains are not just theoretical. Despite challenges from the pandemic and post-Brexit, 78% of manufacturers have found productivity has actually increased in the past two years. 32.2% of manufacturers saw increased productivity of up to 10%, 24.9% saw increased productivity between 10-25%, while 8.8% saw increased productivity over 50%.
Investments in digital technologies and cybersecurity tech is already displaying an outsized effect on the manufacturing industry. And the level of that effect directly correlates with the amount of the investment. Almost half of manufacturers who invested between £100k – £500k in new digital technologies saw an increase in their productivity by 50%.
While the connection between investments and growth can sometimes take time to materialise, 84% of manufacturers expect that productivity will continue to increase over the next two years. This trend is only expected to continue over the coming decade with “areas such as IT and software management, cyber security, and data analysis identified as related areas where demand is expected to increase between now and 2030,” for 7 in 10 manufacturers.
And while cybersecurity is actually a key component of improving productivity, it continues to be one of the main barriers to adopting new digital technologies for many manufacturers.
15% of manufacturers cite cybersecurity concerns as one of the main barriers to embracing digital revolutions in manufacturing, alongside skills training, company culture, and investment issues. However, despite the barrier cybersecurity presents to many manufacturers before adopting digital technologies, once they have made that jump, cybersecurity no longer features as a major challenge, while 33% of manufacturers still list a lack of technical skills and high costs as significant challenges.
That along with continued improvements to productivity make cybersecurity one of the biggest differences for improving manufacturing.
Past investments in cybersecurity and new digital technologies make Britain’s manufacturers more resilient. With over 67% finding they were better situated to overcome new challenges.
Increases in production flexibility, labour efficiency, and a better use of resources top the list of benefits to 63% of manufacturers in their productivity.
The future is clear, invest in digital technologies or “risk falling behind competitors in the race for growth.”