BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- To be successful in today's hyper-competitive global marketplace, manufacturers are constantly finding innovative ways to use technology to increase productivity. But according to a recent Indiana University study, the creation of policies that govern this "smart" manufacturing is just as vital to increased productivity as the creation of new technology.
"Smart Factories: Issues of Information Governance," a new report from the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at IU's Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, discusses smart manufacturing's dependence on information governance -- rules concerning the collection, flow and analysis of information, often in digital form.
In October, the initiative hosted a roundtable event in Washington, D.C., asking executives from nearly 20 global manufacturers and policy experts in academia to weigh in on the subject. Academics were also encouraged to contribute papers on related topics, including artificial intelligence in manufacturing, technical standards, cybersecurity and privacy, and digital trade. The papers and discussions produced by this roundtable revealed four findings:
- Technology alone will not create smart factories. The right information governance policies must also be in place to enable these technologies and reduce unnecessary barriers to market entry.
- Some collective action to establish information governance is being initiated by manufacturers themselves. For example, the increasing availability of cybersecurity insurance is driving best practices and reducing vulnerabilities throughout supply chains. In other policy areas, like digital trade policy, only governmental action will provide the security that drives investment.
- The United States lags behind nations like China and Germany when it comes to a coordinated approach to information governance.
- Policy makers should consider the following when crafting policies that address information governance: the distinction between information technology and operational technology, the complexity of 21st-century global supply chains and the capabilities of smaller firms.
"Information governance will shape the future of the digital economy," said Keith Belton, director of the Manufacturing Policy Initiative. "Absent a government role, information governance may not include important public protections, like those for personal privacy, cybersecurity and intellectual property. This report shows that collective action is needed to establish the rules for digital information, which represents the life blood for smart manufacturing."
Belton, along with David Crandall, associate professor in the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, and Scott Shackelford, associate professor of business law and ethics in the IU Kelley School of Business, will present the report to the House Manufacturing Caucus on Thursday at an event on Capitol Hill. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and New York Rep. Tom Reed have been invited to attend.
"Smart Factories: Issues of Information Governance" was made possible through support from Grant Thornton and in collaboration with the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.