Cloud Trends for Manufacturing

Cloud Trends for Manufacturing
Cloud Trends for Manufacturing

The “to the cloud” decision is one that many businesses will face over the next few years and, while the term cloud is found everywhere, the definition varies so much that it can be confusing. This lack of specificity is causing many decision-makers to be more than a little uneasy about taking their first steps.

From Information Super Highway to the Cloud

This journey to the cloud is reminiscent of the journey that many of us made back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. During that period, a lot of effort went into encouraging businesses to invest in developing their own websites. For many business owners, the concept of the World Wide Web and what it would mean for business competition and even business processes was completely new; there was no model that could be applied. Certainly, very few owners believed that consumers would exchange the immediate gratification of purchasing goods & services in a brick-and-mortar establishment for the delayed gratification of buying online.

But today we know we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I believe we are going to see a more aggressive rate of adoption for cloud services than we saw for adoption for the World Wide Web. In large part, this will be attributed to two factors:

  1. There is already a positive user experience in place, due to successful online activities. Today, not only do we have whole generations who have never known any other way to get things done, but we also have the demonstrated business successes of investment in online activities.
  2. The required infrastructure is already in place or will be soon, making the effort to go to the cloud a less onerous process than getting on the information highway used to be.

In these circumstances, the question about cloud is not so much if as it is when and how.

Let’s Talk Trends

Working as we do with users of our manufacturing and quality management solutions, we see two trends emerging at this phase of the cloud initiative. We think awareness of these trends can help your organization scope the dialogue on how to proceed with your own cloud initiatives.

All about the app

The first trend is easy and broad-based – it is something we see across all business segment and not just the manufacturing segment. This trend involves the migration to dedicated mobile apps. There is an effort to locate and deploy apps that support repeatable tasks with limited variations in task execution. The focus of these apps seems to be the delivery of information. They seem to have little, if any, direct bearing on business process calculations. Mapping applications or expense reporting are common examples.

Private cloud still best suited to support unique business needs.

The second trend that we see is one that is very closely aligned with manufacturers; this trend is often called private cloud. The adoption of private cloud solutions seems to reflect the awareness that very specific functionality is tied to the strategic success of their businesses. Manufacturers recognize the need for a targeted versions of the functionality found in subscription or public services and are concerned that the plain-vanilla versions will not meet the unique needs of their business. These businesses are, in effect, moving their LAN to the cloud.

Expense versus Capitalize and Depreciate

Another reason that manufacturers seem attracted to private cloud is that this is not a business niche that is well known for its desire to be bleeding edge. Manufacturers are not usually early adopters. Additionally, they have a strong belief in the benefits of capitalization and depreciation; it is a financial model that has served them well. Switching to a model where I.T. investment is an operating expense is more than a little counter-intuitive. So it seems that private cloud offers the right blend of risk mitigation and expense control that manufacturers are comfortable with.

Let us know your thoughts. We’d love to know what your greatest concerns are about making the move to the cloud and whether you plan to move now, later or not at all.