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How to Spell Agility in 2017? Try C-L-O-U-D

Mark Humphlett
By Mark Humphlett Director of Industry and Product Strategy, Infor

This year is the year of cloud deployment for manufacturers. Several factors indicate that cloud deployment is the must-have starting place for new technologies. It’s simply the logical deployment choice for today’s complex manufacturing landscape.

Previously, cloud deployment was shrouded in misconceptions and haunted by myths. Change is frequently worrisome to an organization, causing resistance and uncertainty. Some veteran IT professionals who had invested their careers in heavily modified, on-premise legacy solutions were especially skeptical. However, that opinion is going to change.

Several industry signs point to shifting attitudes about cloud deployment and increasing adoption rates. At the same time, some market trends are making cloud deployment more attractive to manufacturers. Are these factors strong enough to compel manufacturers down this new path? The answer is a resounding yes.

When creating a strategy to move to the cloud, there are eight things to keep in mind:

Digitalization is on the rise. Many components of digitalization, such as predictive analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and tracking data from sensors, require the elasticity and vast storage capacity that cloud solutions can offer. Manufacturers are finding that, as they are incorporating these disruptive technologies, it also makes sense to move their core solutions to the cloud simultaneously.

Network visibility is key. To compete in today’s global economy, manufacturers must take advantage of a smart supply network and integrated connection of vendors, suppliers, partners and contractors. Cloud solutions make that visibility practical and easy to manage with far more agility than an on-premise solution.

Keep acquisitions and divestitures top of mind. Manufacturers need agility to respond to changing structure. They simply cannot go through a two-year implementation process to integrate the new organization to an existing on-premise ERP. Cloud solutions require months, instead of years, for implementation.

Users want a good experience. Expectations from the millennial workforce are also a factor compelling manufacturers to turn to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Because cloud solutions are continually updated by the provider, they tend to feature modern user interfaces and consumer-like usability.

Security is paramount. Cybersecurity continues to be a challenge for many manufacturers. Most CFOs, who ultimately own the risk, have come to realize that they have limited capabilities and would prefer to let experts, who focus mass resources on security, assume this critical responsibility. Manufacturers have learned it makes sense for them to focus on their core competencies and to turn over issues like security to someone who specializes in it.

The remaining skills gap. There has been trouble recruiting qualified IT technicians in manufacturing. This causes manufacturers to contract outside resources for the daily management of servers, backups, and upgrades. An individual manufacturer likely will be challenged to recruit and retain the same level of expertise.

Limited cash flow. Many manufacturers today are limited on cash as they work through replacing or upgrading in-plant equipment that has been pushed past its prime. The recent recession taxed cash reserves, causing manufacturers to delay investment in equipment. This makes cloud’s subscription model and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) attractive to those strapped for cash.

Agility and personalization. Some cloud solutions provide the ability to personalize features of the solution, such as dashboards and forms—removing any concerns about lack of modifications and reassuring manufacturers that they can personalize workflows, even on SaaS solutions.

Cloud deployment is a great investment for manufacturers looking to remain competitive and grow their business.

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