Learning more about the facts and trends of a particular industry helps determine whether this industry is actually on the upswing or in a decline. Anyone with the slightest interest in operations management understands that this has been an industry that is becoming more established as the years go by. These are a few of the most important facts and trends to consider.
There are jobs in every sector – including services
There are jobs in operations management in every industry. From retail companies to education, from government institutions to manufacturing and service organizations. When comparing the service sector relative to the manufacturing sector, it is clear that there is a phenomenal rate of growth throughout the service sector. This means that there are more opportunities for operations management in service industries than ever before. This is likely to become a major sector in the immediate future.
Size does not matter
In the case of operations management, size really does not matter. Most of the purchasing professionals (upwards of 80 percent in fact) work at small- and medium-sized organizations. The days of only being viable in larger companies are long gone.
The focus on supply chain management
Industry after industry is asking for increased efficiency in product flow. This includes every industry from chemicals and computers to cars and clothes. The corporate agenda will always have logistics/distribution (safeguarding that the right goods get to the right place at the right time) near the top of it.
For many companies, the focal point of operations has become supply chain management / logistics. This means that companies move the right products, materials, and parts to the customer. Again, to simplify matters greatly, it means getting the right stuff to the right place at the right time.
Most industries have made discipline more important than ever before. For example, American firms spent $970 billion in 2009 alone. What did they spend it on? Transporting, reloading, sorting, unloading, loading, bundling, and wrapping goods. This is upwards of 10.5 percentage of the GDP. Spent on ‘virtually nothing’.
As competition has become fiercer across the board and customers come at a premium, companies streamlining their supply chain is becoming increasingly important. This is where the importance of operations management is highlighted.
More than half of the manufacturing jobs across the United States are spread across only five industries. These include foods, fabricated metals, electronic and electrical equipment, transportation equipment, and industrial machinery and equipment.
The growth industries
The industries that are seeing the most growth at their manufacturing centers include telecommunications, medical technology, commercial printing, laser technology, hardware and peripherals, computer software, fiber optics, and robotics. These are the definite industries that people interested in operations management have to consider.
Environmental innovations are becoming more important
This is an interesting factor that people in operations management have to be aware of. Most manufacturers realize environmental or ‘green’ solutions are not just government mandates that they have to struggle with. They understand that it has become an important factor that can help set them apart from the competition. Because of that, many companies are actively looking for operations management professionals to come up with innovative ways to lower emission releases in order to gain an edge on the competition that way.
Determining future needs and filling those
Goods-producing and service-producing firms find that forecasting is becoming an increasingly important tool for them. In order to be effective, firms must be able to forecast the demand pattern for just-in-time production. Companies throughout the United States have actively responded to intense global competition. This leads to the adoption of a number of management practices to improve their competitiveness. These include a variety of: outsourcing, design for manufacturability, worker empowerment, total quality management, and just-in-timedelivery.
If you want to learn a bit more about a career in operations management and read about how these facts and trends impact actual professionals, see “Interviews with Masters of Operations Management”
Randy S. Hensley