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How Manufacturing Companies Can More Effectively Leverage the Cloud

January 30, 2020

It will come as no surprise to industry observers, that cloud adoption by large enterprises is on the rise. A survey from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that “over 90 percent of global enterprises report using cloud computing in some part of their business.” There’s no question that for many companies cloud initiatives are becoming increasingly important not only to IT organizations, but also to the overall success of the business.

Looking to the manufacturing industry, despite relative hesitancy in past years, it has changed more recently to embrace the cloud. Manufacturers are adopting the cloud for a range of uses including high-performance computing (HPC), enterprise resource planning (ERP), Internet of Things (IoT), big data, predictive analytics, and more.

According to Gartner, “by 2024, 50% of MES (Manufacturing execution system) solutions will include industrial IoT (IIoT) platforms synchronized with microservices-based manufacturing operations management (MOM) apps, providing near-real-time transaction management, control, data collection and analytics.”

This change of attitudes, and the actual movement of more IT applications and workloads to the cloud, requires continued organizational evolution. According to a Bain & Company report, IT organizations across industries, including manufacturing, “will need to develop new roles to manage the cloud environment, and some employees will need to learn new skills or shift to different areas. IT may need to upgrade its capabilities in ITIL, Agile, DevOps and project management to capture the cloud’s full value, and this will require changing existing processes to work well in the cloud.”

There’s certainly truth in this, but it also points to challenges. Learning new skills and upgrading such capabilities takes time and resources. Keeping enterprise IT organizations on the cutting edge of advances in cloud technologies and development processes may be attractive in theory, but in practice may not be achievable. Changes and advances in technology simply are coming at a pace too rapid for most organizations to keep up with. For just one example, Amazon Web Services alone adds “around 1000 new features every single year”, and the trend indicates that number will only increase over time.

An alternative or complementary approach is for IT to partner with an outside consultant who actively keeps up with the rapid pace of cloud platform advances, and who has software development and customization as one its core competencies. Such a consultant can act as a trusted advisor to help guide the IT organizations in their cloud adoption strategy, and optimization of existing cloud deployments.

An excellent example of this kind of consultant and trusted advisor is Nortal, a custom software development firm with an emphasis in Cloud services. Nortal has extensive expertise in Cloud platforms, and utilizes the latest software development life cycle (SDLC) methods and best practices to bring clients real value on their cloud adoption and modernization journey. Given the propensity of manufacturing companies to utilize process improvement methods like Six Sigma and Lean, many will quickly see value in the approach of consulting firms like Nortal.

Even manufacturers that do a relatively good job keeping their IT organizations up to date with the latest technologies and best practices can greatly benefit from having an independent expert helping them optimize their cloud adoption and application development initiatives.

Given the competitive landscape manufacturing companies face, they must be as efficient as possible in every aspect of their operations.  That is certainly true for their utilization of cloud computing. They may find it worthwhile to look outside their organization for additional expert guidance that can help them to migrate application workloads to the cloud, as well as to better leverage existing and future cloud services most effectively. Such an approach can help manufacturers not only to make more strategic choices about the cloud. It can also allow them to maintain greater focus on their core business, thereby contributing positively toward that sought after competitive edge.

Contact us to learn more about our cloud migration expertise and read our Head of Industry 4.0’s blog on how the evolution of edge layer is transforming businesses.

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