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As Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers observes, Manufacturing Day should be about more than celebrating US manufacturing once a year, and seek to engage american dreamers, makers and builders all year around. However I welcome this one day as an opportunity to reflect on Microsoft's role in what's being described as the '4th industrial revolution' – a digital revolution that has put manufacturing back on government agendas around the globe. Bing 'Smart Manufacturing', 'Industry 4.0', 'Industrial IoT''Made in China 2025', 'Make In India', or 'America Makes', and you'll get a sense of how organisations and governments are lobbying for investments to address skills gaps and gain a competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), the Internet of Things, nanotechnology, and robotics.

Celebrating Manufacturing Day: A new era of digital opportunity
Echoing Jay Timmons sentiment that its a long term commitment, Microsoft has a long history empowering manufacturers from the shop floor to the top floor. Read Caglayan Arkan's blog today 'Celebrating Manufacturing Day: A new era of digital opportunity' to get a global perspective on how Microsoft and partner solutions are creating new business value with advanced manufacturing technologies, with examples as varied as Connected Cows, the Perfect Lettuce, and Connected Elevators.

The real revolution – changing manufacturing mindsets from 'Inside-Out', to 'Outside-In'
Digital technologies are making manufacturing sexy again, and Manufacturing Day hopes to capitalize on that, in attracting younger generations to careers in this 4th industrial revolution. However, as I forecast in my personal blog on "Manufacturing 2.0(07) – An Inside (Out) View on #MfgDay14", the real manufacturing revolution we are witnessing is customer-obsessed dynamic manufacturers connecting the dots between the well informed and fickle digital consumer, and digital design and manufacturing capabilities. Today's manufacturers are taking an "outside-in" approach to digital business that connects marketing, sales, and service operations, and fulfills promises with intelligent manufacturing and supply chain operations.

Is your business software ready for smart(er) manufacturing?
Today, reimagining the customer journey with new insights from social listening, smart connected products and advanced analytics, manufacturers can challenge traditional business models, confident in their ability to redesign shop floor processes using additive manufacturing, robotics, and cyber-physical systems. Manufacturers can use remote monitoring and predictive maintenance to add high value services that transform the customer experience and engender loyalty.

But can your business software keep up with the new speed of manufacturing? In this months edition of OnWindows, I pontificate on how it makes a mockery of investments in agile manufacturing, smart connected products and new business models, if you are constrained by your enterprise software's infrastructure or business process complexity, and their cost or time to change. Whether new businesses are the result of digital transformation and organic innovation, or a strategy of mergers, acquisitions and divesture, this new era of manufacturing is in dire need of more agile business systems.

Intelligent Customer Engagement and Intelligent Operations
Lets celebrate Manufacturing Day and keep making manufacturing sexy for millenials, but lets make sure they have modern productivity and business process tools when they join the workforce. To learn more about how Microsoft Business Solutions are helping manufacturers keep pace with the new speed of business, by bringing together the best Microsoft has to offer with intelligent customer engagement and intelligent operations solutions, I've provided some additional links below, but please reach out to myself or your account team. We'd love to help on your digital transformation of manufacturing.

Intelligent Operations: Reimagining Manufacturing One Customer at a Time

Hannover Messe 2015: Microsoft Bringing Sexy Back to Manufacturing?

Smart(er) Manufacturing in the Era of Systems of Intelligence

Interview series with The Manufacturer