In order to build a better relationship with customers and capitalize on their needs and pain points, manufacturers must understand the engineering workforce of today.
To deliver the solutions engineers need, sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Each year, IEEE GlobalSpec asks engineers to fill out a survey about what they think about their industry and work environment. Topics include their perception of the pace of engineering, available resources, emerging trends, competition and more.
What makes this survey different from before? This year, IEEE GlobalSpec included exclusive analysis on two key segments of the engineering workforce: millennials and technical professionals in the electronics industry.
Here are 6 insights we gained from the 2018 Pulse of Engineering survey that can help manufacturers connect with their customers:
Engineers say they are required to do more with less.
Compared to last year’s survey, more engineers see these industry trends: designs are getting more complex; design cycles are shrinking; and there’s more time-to-market pressure.
On average, engineers are juggling 4 projects at once. They see the pace of engineering as constantly increasing, meaning their “To Do” list grows without adding more time to get those items done. The problem worsens when manufacturers consider this: 40% of engineers said the pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality and rework at risk. Yikes.
To connect with engineers, manufacturers must provide them with a solutions that hits this pain point. The manufacturer’s job is to improve ease of doing business (EoDB), so the engineer can purchase the products he or she needs without jumping through hoops.
Engineer’s top challenges: lack of time and lack of resources.
Engineers across the board are feeling the pressure. Since engineers have to do more with less, it’s no surprise that two of their biggest challenges are lack of time and resources.
What does this mean for manufacturers? Well, 75% agree or strongly agree that constraints on people and resources are jeopardizing their company’s productivity, innovation, and product quality. Manufacturers must invest in solutions that create synergy and efficiency for their team before they consider hiring more engineers or giving their employees an extra project.
Teams are unprepared to replace industry experts when they retire or leave the company.
Only 20% of engineers said their company has a formal process in place to identify industry experts to train, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization. For the other 80% who responded “No” or “Don’t Know”, their companies risk losing important skills, knowledge, and vendor relationships.
However, 60% responded that knowledge loss as employees leave the company is extremely or very important. Clearly, there is a gap between what engineers believe and what practices employers have in place.
For manufacturers, nearly half of employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five-10 years. The time to create a shared knowledge and learning process is now.
Most agree that competition is increasing, and the landscape is global and competes 24/7.
The digital era has turned the tables on manufacturers. Customers have different expectations for manufacturers, and engineers see their competitive landscape increasing in size and players.
Over half agree that their company competes with others across the globe, meaning manufacturers have to be “on” 24/7.
Technology is playing a big role is how engineers see their competitive landscape changing. Nearly half strong agree or agree that new tech disrupts their markets faster. Furthermore, 54% believe their company’s technologies are relevant for shorter periods of time.
The most valuable tools for completing projects: technical documentation and software development tools.
In engineering, there’s a belief that “more is more”. In terms of information, this is definitely the case.
Engineers across the board agreed that technical documentation (69%) and software & development tools (67%) were key to completing their projects. Next in line were product specification data (32%) and datasheets (31%).
For manufacturers, the more information they can provide engineers – and in a wider variety of formats, from PDFs to design tools – the better.
Electronics engineers are more willing to register on a website to access content. Millennials are not.
When it comes to accessing information, engineers are split on whether some content should be open or behind a log in. Over half are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents. Electronics engineers are more willing to submit their information to access content, but less so for Millennials.
Millennials are more likely to believe all content should be free and open access. This may stem from the work environments in which Millennials tend toward. Electronics companies make more use of coding resources and design kits, while millennials rely on datasheets more than others.
Depending on the customer, manufacturers must take different approaches to how they share information. Remember, customer service is the new competitive battlefield for business, so manufacturers need to ensure their business practices are optimized for their specific customers.
Engineers have shared their perception of their industry. Now it’s up to manufacturers to take this knowledge and apply it to the solutions they offer engineers.
These insights for manufacturers show us that engineers are busy workers who feel pressure boiling up. Before it all bubbles over, manufacturers can offer the resources and tools these engineers need in order to get their to-do list done in less time.
While technology and information remain at the center, it’s still important for manufacturers to remember the human connection. Improving the digital customer experience by offering more access and information is what engineers want, and it will help shape them into happy, loyal customers.
The arena may have gone digital, but your customers are still human.
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