The worst advice we've ever heard about manufacturing and distribution

The worst advice we've ever heard about manufacturing and distribution

Published: 3/12/2015 12:25:57 PM

Manufacturers may, more than any other industry, have the most to gain and lose from cloud software. Because much of a manufacturer's job is to continue pushing out products as quickly as possible, any downtime due to a systems upgrade can be very damaging. However, this can lead many in the field to fear the cloud. While it is always appropriate to research new technologies before adopting them, there is such a thing as being too careful.

Some of the advice we've heard from reading industry magazines and browsing through LinkedIn has left us scratching our heads. Old myths die hard, and many people are still unaware of good options they have because of outdated advice. Below are some of the most flagrant bad opinions we've heard:

"We no longer live in a world where cloud computing is inherently less secure than any other type of network."

The cloud is insecure
One of the most misleading things about cloud computing that we've heard is that the cloud is insecure. This is simply not the case. The cloud is secure and too important to ignore. The mobility, agility and scalability that cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications can bring to the table are highly impactful to any business. Further, cloud platforms are no less secure than any other type of network infrastructure, according to TechTarget contributor and noted cloud expert David Linthicum. It is merely access that provides the opportunity for attacks.  Put another way, any organization with an employee login portal accessible off of office premises is just as vulnerable as one with a web portal for employees. Or, a company that allows workers to check email at home is as vulnerable as one that lets them read documents anywhere. It's not the cloud that makes things hackable, it's accessibility. And cloud computing is becoming safer all the time. After all, cloud solutions providers have a lot more security resources at their disposal than the average small business does.

ERP is too important to move to the cloud
Many experts in manufacturing know how important ERP is to the business. They may see the cloud as insecure, (which we discussed above) unreliable or unsafe. However, SaaS services are forming the backbone of many large organizations, including manufacturing plants, even now. Cloud ERP software can be just as, if not more reliable than, on-premises ERP because it is run in data centers that measure their uptime in terms of how many nines they can place after "99 percent." Some of the best cloud ERP software providers offer 99.999 percent uptime, which is considerably higher than many organizations can manage with their on-site software. Also known a five nines, a 99.999 percent uptime guarantee limits downtime to less than 5.26 minutes in a given year. In comparison, a 99 percent uptime guarantee allows for more than three and half days of downtime in a year.

Business performance can't be helped by moving to SaaS platforms
Organizations need strong cloud ERP software because it enables them to do so much more than they would be able to otherwise. Of the businesses that have implemented cloud solutions, 73 percent say that it has improved their business performance, according to the Piper Jaffray 2015 CIO Survey. ERP software can help manufacturers carefully manage everything in more detail than ever before, and allow workers to be constantly aware of the operations in the factory. This means that even when administrators aren't on-site they can be aware of any major developments within the assembly line. This makes it perfect for companies that must oversee several locations at once, or that rely on a smaller managerial staff in order to keep costs low.

A microchip with the words "BIG DATA" emblazoned into the center.Big data can help companies achieve high performance goals.

Big data is a flash in the pan
Finally, perhaps the most important myth is that big data will not be useful in the near future. In fact, many organizations are already making use of insight from cloud-driven sensors and similar technologies to revolutionize how their businesses work. By understanding exactly how, in aggregate, a product moves from beginning to end in the detail that cloud ERP can provide, a company can further streamline its manufacturing processes. Perhaps even more important, big data analysis allows companies to examine their long-term strategies for shipping and manufacturing together, letting them see if there are more efficient ways to continue their operations. Finding the perfect way to grow requires the input that cloud ERP can provide organizations, and they would do well to make use of it as best they can.

Most of these misconceptions come from out-of-date views on the cloud. We no longer live in a world where cloud computing is inherently less secure than any other type of network. There is more to be done with modern day equipment and technology to improve the efficiencies of our businesses, and we should take advantage of these opportunities. With cloud financial software and cloud ERP, manufacturers can utilize more effective business strategies. These new advances provide manufactures with unprecedented efficiency in their processes. This can only happen if we are willing to disregard bad, outdated advice.

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