How Social Technology Can Reinvent European Manufacturing

by Doug Kern 28 Jun 2013 Blog Post, Whitepapers

Business leaders are increasingly worried about the European manufacturing industry’s place in the global economy, particularly in comparison to other developed countries and the fast-growing BRIC economies.

European manufacturing has experienced an increasing cost pressure, offshoring, commoditisation and a race to the bottom on labour costs, and cannot compete if continuing business as usual.  Instead of caving in, the industry needs to reinvent itself to work smarter, and create competitive advantage.

The role of social technology

Social technology provides solutions as a way forward in three areas: by connecting manufacturers to global markets, by helping them to unearth new product opportunities, and by improving productivity and innovation within individual firms.

In the following whitepaper, co-authors Lee Bryant, Robin Hamman and Kaija Pöysti examine how social technology is instrumental to driving a reinvigoration in European manufacturing for an otherwise stagnating industry.

Social Technology European Manufacturing


  • Adi Gaskell

    Interesting report. I can think of several other areas that it is likely to have a huge impact though (indeed it is already).

    For large companies, the main benefit of social will be in product development. We’ve seen Lego use social to co-create products with customers, whilst the likes of GE, Defra and Eli Lilly have used social tools to open up innovation to all comers.

    Arguably a bigger shift however will come with 3D printing. Already identified by McKinsey as the main disruptive technology, it is likely to turn manufacturing from a centralised endeavour to a distributed one. In that kind of world, social tools will be used ala the open source world, to collaborate on new designs and of course to crowdfund the scaling up of manufacture.

    Of course, there are very real social implications if 3D printing does take off. As you say, manufacturing is currently a major employer, and if people can begin doing at home what would previously have required a paid person to do, it could have quite significant impacts upon economies and societies. That’s something that guys like McAfee and Lanier have debated at length over the past few years.

    The UK chief scientific advisor is penning a report into the future of manufacturing at the moment. Think it’s due for release this autumn, so might be one to keep an eye on.

    btw, left a post on my blog about the report.