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Improving Apparel Industry’s Productivity Through Big Data Analytics: Opportunities, Challenges & The Way Forward

Bangladesh has recently upgraded its economic condition from an under-developed country to a developing one. The biggest contribution in this drastic change came from the revolution in IT industry and RMG sector. RMG sector contributes in earning 83.49% of total revenue. According to BGMEA, there are approximately 4 million workers are employed by this industry. Every day in this industry, each of the garments manufacturing factories deals with a large set of data. This data falls into the category of “Big Data” which needs to be managed and analyzed to reveal the patterns and trends in the industry. And to do so, Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Service (IT and ITES) Industry can play a major role to commence the journey of lean management system in RMG industry. This is demand of time to increase the efficiency of the garments sector so that it can uphold the strength of our economy.

The research is conducted based on both primary and secondary data. For primary data, we interviewed Directors of several RMG companies including Mondol Group, GMS Composite Knitting Industries Ltd., APS Group, Rishal Garments Limited etc. For secondary data, information collected from newspapers, journals, research articles, thesis papers, online dictionary, news and survey reports, annual reports of apparel manufacturing industries, reports from National Board of Revenue (NBR), Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) reports, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) reports, BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA yearly reports and other documents etc.

According to the report of World Trade Organization (WTO), 2017, though Bangladesh is the second largest with a market share of 6.4% in global market share of RMG, it still lags behind in case of productivity rate which is only 40%, whereas Turkey holds only 1.4% market share and yet, has the highest productivity rate among all. Exports of RMG from Bangladesh are decreasing day by day due to lack of quality production, on time shipment, accurate quantity shipment etc. Also, many RMG factories are closing because of no improvement in efficiency, huge cost, lack of optimum utilization of resources, mismanagement and so on.

The directors shared their experience of using software in operational functions. They also recommended that software, that is more user-friendly, easily accessible, easy to implement and has more automated functions, is more appreciated than those of without these functions. However, the output of implementing the software will depend on how successfully it will be used. This revolution of technology in garments sector of Bangladesh will surely take it to its peak.