For manufacturing enterprises, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) will reshape the source of value creation, the formation of new business models, and the delivery of value-added services such as mass customization, predictive maintenance, and "product servitization" (i.e., the process of building revenue streams for manufacturers from services related to your products). As AI becomes more prevalent in various aspects of business management and operations, investing in people will become even more important. AI and automation will not displace people but rather combine their capabilities in new ways to create new forms of value and new opportunities. The manufacturers that identify how to empower their workforces through AI applications will create the greatest value going forward.

This report reviews key findings and recommendations to guide manufacturers in the next leg of the transformative journey with artificial intelligence and their workforce.

The Manufacturing Evolution: How AI Will Transform Manufacturing & the Workforce of the Future

Key Findings

  • AI Making Inroads in Manufacturing. AI is most commonly deployed in industrial robotics, machine vision, intelligent products, machine learning, and cobots. Over the next five years, industry leaders expect significant growth in predictive systems and in their use of AI to manage intelligent supply chains. Manufacturers also expect significantly increased use of robotic process automation (RPA).
  • Significant Technical and Workforce Barriers Remain. At present, a lack of clarity about how to implement AI solutions to solve specific manufacturing challenges, and a lack of interoperability between equipment are the most significant barriers to deployment. However, these are paired with significant workforce challenges, including a lack of employees with the necessary digital skills to implement AI solutions or understanding of how to define the AI skills needed.
  • New Roles Emerging for Humans and Machines. AI will generate new roles where human capacity will reign supreme (e.g., creating and judging) and others where machines will outperform humans (e.g., iterating and predicting). Hybrid roles will arise where humans will enable machines (e.g., in training, explaining, and sustaining) and where AI will augment human capabilities (e.g., in amplifying, interacting, and embodying).