By Lisa Pope, SVP-Global Strategy & Sales-CloudSuite, Infor
To compete in today’s global economy; manufacturers must redefine agility and reinvent strategies for growth. Operational excellence, speed, responsiveness, and the ability to anticipate the market’s rapidly-changing conditions are top priorities. In this economy, cloud deployment offers the rapid implementation, vertical expertise, and ease-of-deployment that manufacturers need in order to win at a high-stakes race. The winner will undoubtedly walk away owning new opportunities in emerging markets and driving market trends with innovative new products.
Headlines point to positive news for manufacturing, on many fronts. Advanced technology and operational innovations are making manufacturing exciting again. Advances like nanotechnology, 3D printing, Big Data, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) keep manufacturers and suppliers on high-alert, watching for the next big idea that is going to rock their world. Today, the accelerated rate of change can be both invigorating and alarming, as it places operational challenges on manufacturers.
Data, Data, and more Data
Big Data is the most pervasive of the disruptive technologies hitting manufacturing. No matter how you define this proliferation of data now available, manufacturers must find ways to store, access, and analyze this monumental volume, if it is to be used to its fullest advantage. Data vaults and Business Intelligence (BI) tools are rapidly-evolving, making data more consumable across the organization, in the form of dashboards and self-service reporting tools. The democratization of data is a trend allowing employees, at many levels in the organization, to become actively-engaged in tracking personal and departmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), as well as finding proactive solutions for customer needs.
Robotics and Machine-to-Machine Technology
Technology in manufacturing often takes the form of equipment automation robotics, such as Machine-to-Machine technology, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and other disruptive technologies hitting manufacturers today. Now, machines, using smart sensors, RFID scanners, and GPS tracking can communicate with each other and the ERP systems—machines, products, and processes are all connected in one continuous loop.
Machines can signal if maintenance is required and systems can track items in the extended supply chain, and manage the scheduling, storage, and shipping of goods through the product value chain–from cradle to grave.
Changing Customer Demands
Keeping up with the expectations and needs of the changing population is a challenge in itself. Online shopping and social media have totally changed the retail environment, giving consumers more options and more clout than ever before. The result is higher expectations for speed, value-added offerings, and product customization. Fortunately, advanced ERP and operational solutions allow manufacturers to transition from the traditional “make-to-stock” business model to highly-flexible, “on-demand” manufacturing.
Cloud Deployment Supports Agile Response
Manufacturers are not waiting for this influx of innovation and technology to come to a resting point before they take action. Remaining competitive and developing a competitive edge require manufacturers to keep up with modern manufacturing, and fully leverage every opportunity—those who don’t risk being left behind in a cloud of dust.
Turning to cloud deployment is one of the most effective ways manufacturers can increase their agility, and improve their ability to anticipate trends and respond to fast-changing market conditions. More and more manufacturers are taking the advantage of cloud deployment for their critical ERP solution, not just edge applications. According to a recent independent survey, 60 percent of organizations globally are using some type of Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. When asked about the driving factors for turning to cloud deployment, the respondents listed several benefits, including these top responses:
22 percent—Improve Technology Quality
18 percent— Help grow our business
13 percent—Improve Availability
13 percent—Better business service
10 percent—Add capabilities we cannot build internally
9 percent—Scale to demand
All of these drivers certainly contribute to a manufacturer’s ability to respond to today’s fast-changing market landscape. Other ways cloud deployment supports modern agility, include:
Speed of implementation
Cloud solutions are faster to deploy, meaning manufacturers can implement new solutions in new locations in days, not years. Cloud solutions with built-in vertical capabilities and highly-flexible functionalities mean manufacturers don’t have to waste time with modification, building specialized solutions, and testing implementation.
All of the necessary functionality is already built in.
No Need for Hardware, Servers, and Security
Cloud solutions alleviate the hassle of sourcing, setting up and testing the infrastructure of servers, and hardware, including the security safeguards, backups, and disaster recovery. Cloud providers take care of these critical areas, leaving the manufacturer to concentrate on other issues like innovation and customer centricity. Because this is their primary focus, cloud providers are experts at security. They invest more time, research, and hardware into safeguards and backup systems that the typical manufacturer can achieve with an o-premise solution.
Turning to cloud deployment is one of the most effective ways manufacturers can increase their agility, and improve their ability to anticipate trends and respond to fast-changing market conditions
One of the great advantages of cloud deployment is that ERP solutions will always be the most advanced technologies available. The manufacturer no longer has to worry about keeping up with system upgrades and launches of new technology. This becomes automatic, giving the manufacturer the confidence that they are always leveraging the most advanced solutions available.
Lower Total of Ownership
Because cloud deployment uses a monthly subscription model and the manufacturer doesn’t have to invest in servers and ongoing IT support, the total end-to-end solution often provides lower total cost of ownership. This means the manufactures can use those capital funds for other initiatives, such as R&D.
Cloud solutions are highly-flexible, allowing the manufacturer to connect legacy solutions, collaborate with partners and suppliers, and allows personnel to use remote mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones. This flexibility helps manufacturers collaborate with suppliers and establish multi-tier and hybrid systems with parent companies or acquisitions. Flexibility allows manufacturers to be ready for whatever big idea comes next.
When reviewing the challenges that manufacturers face today and the ways cloud deployment supports modern manufacturing, the conclusion is clear: manufacturing is drastically different than it was a decade ago. For the manufactures to remain competitive, they must keep current with modern IT functionality. Cloud deployment provides the agility needed to keep up with today’s revolutionary pace of change.