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Asset Management on Cloud

In last couple of years, within our Infosys Asset Management practice, there have been multiple discussions about feasibility of having asset management applications on Cloud. That made me getting into discussing with product managers of couple of Asset Management software providers, about the market trends, technical feasibility, clients' preferences etc. This note would summarize that discussion.

First, lets understand the basic benefits provided by a cloud application or why a company would choose to have its application to be made available on cloud. Cloud mainly offers two advantages (i) Cost Advantage, (ii) relief from managing upgrades, patches, hot fixes, hardware infrastructure etc.

Also, cloud does not mean hosting alone. There have been some cases, where a client buys licenses from product vendor and gives them to a third party hosting service provider for hosting. In these cases, clients are still burdened to worry about getting the patches, fix and upgrades etc, so this is not a cloud based application in pure sense - especially for enterprise applications. The only advantage these models provide is capital investment on infrastructure.

Further, for many enterprise applications, though clients want to use cloud based application but they still want to have data to be stored on-premise due to data security, local regulations etc. Hence the application can be made available on cloud, in virtual world, but data is to be within client' premises.

Having understood cloud and its advantage, now let's see what Asset Management packages need and their characteristics along with business need in cloud context. There are two main points to consider (i) Asset Management Users, (ii) Data Security.

Typical asset management users are field forces, planners and schedulers. These are the people whose exposure to software applications is limited as compared to Procurement, Finance, CRM users. They get limited time to work on software applications. Hence, they need easy to use and faster applications and cannot afford low performance solutions. Hence a cloud based software needs to be as fast as accessing the data over WAN and LAN.

For many of the asset intensive organizations, data security is very important. Utilities may not want to expose their asset network to outside world due to safety reasons, to avoid sabotage. Nuclear generation plants have heavily restricted data which in most cases cannot even leave plant boundaries. Oil & Gas companies also have high degree of data safety, especially around their oil & gas producing assets. So, they would prefer data to remain on-premise, however software could be on cloud.

Also many of the sizable utilities, petroleum companies have already invested heavily in IT infrastructure, which makes them think twice to opt for cloud based options.

But at the same time, there are many industries where asset data sensitivity is not that critical like Facility management, hospitals, educational institutes, manufacturing plants etc .  Many of the small & medium size companies are also looking for cheaper options where they don't want to invest into capital expenditure. Cloud base asset management software is a right choice for these organizations.

Another point to consider is that cloud based asset management software applications have not reached maturity level of cloud based ERP due to a smaller market size. Maturity level and market size of HR, CRM, Finance and Manufacturing processes is quiet high as compared to that of Asset management. Hence, there are not many asset management software providers offering cloud based offering. As the market grows and processes gain more maturity levels, there would be more providers.

So, small and medium businesses in growing economies would see more and more cloud based asset management software usage in coming days.

 

Comments

Thanks Praveen , interesting article offering a concise view on the topic.

If you look at managing field force (Scheduling, Reporting actuals, Requesting spare parts etc. say,front end part of the process) there are already quite a few vendors making waves with their cloud based offerings. An example in point is ServiceMax . These guys used to be in hardcore engineering , now they provide a suite of applications, built on force.com , to manage your filed force. One of our leading MFG & Automation clients is moving from a typical in-premise solution to ServiceMax. Have a look , you would enjoy :-)

Regards,
Nachiket

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