Manufacturing in the Digital Age: Exploiting Information Technologies for Product Realization

Anantaram Balakrishnan, Soundar Rajan Tirupatikumara, Shankar Sundaresan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Information technology (IT) is both the key enabler for future manufacturing enterprises and a transformer of organizations and markets. By reducing barriers to collaboration, compressing lead time, eliminating physical movement, and enriching decision-making, IT helps manufacturers achieve their goal of meeting customer needs better, quicker, and cheaper. By providing global reach and easy connectivity, information technology has fostered cooperation while increasing market competition, and heightened customer expectations. Advances in computer and communication technologies combined with rapid changes in organizations have created new opportunities for exploiting information technologies in the entire product realization process. This paper explores these opportunities, and identifies promising directions for both basic and applied research. We first review important trends in organizations, markets, and information technologies - from increasing customer involvement and opportunistic organizational alliances to global reach and connectivity, enterprise integration, and visualization. Adopting a process viewpoint of the product realization cycle, we translate these trends into high-impact IT applications in design and operations that offer rich potential for applied research and development. Underlying these applications are four broad classes of intelligent information processes - intelligent search, diagnosis and prognosis, collaboration, coordination, and negotiation, and understanding and learning. And, software agents provide an ideal platform to implement these processes. We briefly review developments in these basic research fields, and identify necessary scientific advances that are most important from the manufacturing perspective. Our goal is to synthesize streams of thought from many related disciplines in engineering, science, and management, and develop a framework for examining how information technologies can facilitate and influence manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-50
Number of pages26
JournalInformation Systems Frontiers
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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