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Manufacturing Leaders Announce New ‘Critical Issues’ Agenda

Posted By Paul Tate, July 29, 2014 at 3:58 AM, in Category: Manufacturing Leadership Community

Leadership.jpgFrost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, the global business network for senior industrial executives, has established a new Critical Issues Agenda for manufacturing for 2014/2015.

The Council has focused the new Agenda around six critical issues, with strong emphasis on new product innovation and collaborative customer-centric cultures; key transformative technologies including Big Data and analytics, the Internet of Things and digital manufacturing; the need for new approaches to employee engagement to attract and develop the next generation of manufacturing leaders; harnessing the potential of public/private partnerships to drive innovation and growth; and the rising importance of sustainability and social responsibility practices to the industry’s future. 

“The Council’s Critical Issues agenda is a mirror reflection of the most important business and technology issues facing industry today,” said David R. Brousell, Global Vice President and Editorial Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council. “It also represents the Council’s core mission of bringing together executives from all sectors of manufacturing in a common purpose to address these issues for their own companies, as well as for the industry at large.”

The Manufacturing Leadership Council’s annual Critical Issues Agenda reflects a unique member-driven process that identifies the most urgent and important issues facing the global manufacturing industry in the year ahead.

The annual Critical Issues Agenda also establishes the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s strategic plan for the year, directly influencing all major elements of the Manufacturing Leadership product and services portfolio, including content themes in the Manufacturing Leadership Journal and across the Manufacturing Leadership website, programs and services such as TeleConnect calls and Decision Compass special interest groups, the Manufacturing Leadership Summit, Council meeting themes and plant tours, and the Manufacturing Leadership Awards program.

The 2014/2015 Manufacturing Leadership Council Critical Issues Agenda includes:

Factories of the Future

To respond to ever-changing customer requirements across multiple markets around the world, large and SMB manufacturers, in both the process and discrete manufacturing sectors, must understand and embrace the possibilities of new and evolving production models and technologies to create more flexible, automated and intelligent factories for the future.


  • The Internet of Things on the Plant Floor
  • 3D Printing and Emerging Production Technologies
  • Digital Manufacturing

The Innovative Enterprise

Rapid, continuous innovation across all areas of the enterprise, often involving open, collaborative innovation initiatives engaging customers, partners and external research groups, is now essential to driving business growth, adaptability and competitive success for large and SMB manufacturers in today’s increasingly competitive and fast-changing global marketplace.


  • New Product Innovation, Open Collaboration, Crowdsourcing
  • Customer-centric Supply Chain Innovation
  • Business Model innovation

Manufacturing Advocacy

Manufacturing plays a critical role as an engine of both national and regional economic growth, a platform for social improvement, and a rich source of rewarding employment. New forms of partnership between industry, education and the research community need to be highlighted and encouraged to ensure manufacturing continues to have a healthy future. 


  • Public/private partnerships, esp. between industry and education
  • Global manufacturing sector growth, outlook, and future prospects

Next Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

Manufacturing industry leaders today must actively anticipate and embrace the many fundamental forces of change now sweeping the industry – global, competitive, organizational, technological, and demographic – while creating an innovative, responsive, and diverse working culture, and developing effective strategies to identify, attract, develop and retain the people and skills required for the future.


  • Leadership best practices, effective collaborative decision-making
  • Employee engagement with diverse, multi-generational, multi-cultural, multinational workforce
  • Skills gap, education, apprenticeships, attracting tomorrow’s workforce


Sustainability has become a major industrial force that is shaping the future of manufacturing. Resource efficiency, greater resilience, cleaner operations, reduced waste and renewable sources of energy are just part of the sustainability mix in a world of increasingly-informed and environmentally-aware customers and next generation employees. Encompassing thought-leading environmental, social and economic policies, sustainability strategies have become fundamental to delivering both financial and competitive advantage.


  • Financial and competitive benefits of sustainability leadership
  • Emphasis on Social and Corporate Responsibility

Transformative Technologies

Large or small, manufacturing enterprises urgently need to learn how to identify, adopt, and leverage the right emerging technologies to enable rapid process transformation and the development of innovative new products and business services. They must also understand how these technologies may impact operational efficiency, responsiveness, predictive capability, resilience and the customer experience.


  • Big Data and Predictive Analytics
  • Internet of Things / Industrial Internet / Industry 4.0
  • Cybersecurity

Methodology: The Critical Issues Agenda is the result of an extensive engagement with Manufacturing Council Leadership members. It involves a direct member survey to gather initial input, a live TeleConnect call where members review the survey results and share insights and ideas, and a live Council meeting at the annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit where members further debate and vote on what they feel will be the most important issues the industry will face in the upcoming year. The outcomes and insights gathered from all of these engagements are then put before members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s Board of Governors for final review and decision.

For more information about the Manufacturing Leadership Council, please visit www.MLCouncil.com.


Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive

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