Window and Door Jan/Feb 2012 : Page 23

manufacturers. Interestingly, that’s a reversal from last year, when significantly more manufacturers with sales of less than $100 million were talking about increased investments than large manufacturers— those with sales of more than $100 million. The survey also asks dealers and manufacturers what their main goals are for capital spending in the coming years. Once again, increasing efficiency of existing operations remains the number one goal. Of note this year is an uptick in the number of manufacturers and dealers indicating they plan to invest in “expanding information system capabilities.” The responses suggest more companies are looking at ways to save money in their operations or enhance their sales and marketing efforts, a subject explored in the sidebar focusing on use of electronic communication and business tools. Another signal of a more cautious industry is a pull back in the number of companies talking about expanding capacity. That figure had seen some growth from its lows, but the percentage of respondents indicating they would add capacity is down once again for 2012, a sign that many continue to see overcapacity in the market. Finally, there was a sizable increase in the number of respondents indicating “other” as the main goal of their capital spending, Among those respondents elaborating on their answer, new product development was a common theme among manufacturers. Numerous dealers and distributors indicated they were making investments in website enhancements and upgrades. EMPLOYMENT LEVELS The past two years, more respondents have predicted increased employment levels at their companies and fewer said there would be decreases. The closings and shutdowns of the past several years, however, have continued right through to the end of 2011. That fact, and the general caution shown in this year’s Industry Pulse, can be seen in employment projections in 2012 ( Fig. 5 ). The number of respondents predicting more hiring at their companies in the year ahead Dealer Adoption Rates 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% n Under Development n Implemented Fig. 2 third reporting they have company LinkedIn pages, compared to about 26 percent of manufacturers. Tweeting is more popular with manufacturers, however. Forty percent of manufacturers report that they have a company Twitter account, compared to only 21 percent of dealers. NEW TECHNOLOGIES Two other much-talked about technologies are the QR codes, which can be scanned by a smartphone and direct the user to a web page, and BIM or building information modeling systems. In both cases, manufacturers are ahead of dealers in using these technologies. BIM, a complex enterprise gathering all types of product sizing and performance information together for all types of building products, is gaining traction in the commercial and architectural markets, and manufacturers involved in those segments are most likely the ones leading the way on adopting that technology. Meanwhile, all types of companies are experimenting with QR codes in their marketing. Despite the low cost of using QR codes, it is interesting to note that the larger firms among both dealers and manufacturers are more likely to be the ones implementing them. About 10 percent of the small manufacturer respondents report using them, for example, compared to 40 percent of the large manufacturers. The widespread adoption of smartphones and the advent of tablets is clearly capturing the interest of the industry, the survey results show. While implementation rates are still low for both internal and external apps, they are clearly growing. Smart phone apps for internal processes are in use or under development at about 30 percent of the manufacturers and 20 percent of dealers. What may be most impressive is the pace of adoption for tablet technologies. With the iPad introduced only two years ago, 23 percent of manufacturers already report using a tablet app for internal processes and 14 percent say their company has a tablet app for customers. Another 18 percent say such an app is under development. Dealer adoption may not be as high, but the percent of respondents indicating these technologies are under development at their companies is higher than for any other technologies in the survey. 23 Internal Smartphone Apps Company Twitter Account Company Facebook Page Internal iPad/Tablet Apps Secure E-Commerce Site for Customers Company LinkedIn Page Electronic Newsletter iPad/Tablet App for Customers Smartphone Apps for Customers Company website QR Codes BIM

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