Winning Manufacturing Strategies

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January 16, 2013

Manufacturing trends you cannot afford to miss in 2013

Just-in-time, a manufacturing concept that took the guesswork out of the inventory ordering process. And now the software,  that helps manufacturers eke out better efficiency from the manufacturing process that gets even better.

Sanjay Jalona, SVP, High-tech & Manufacturing, Americas reminisces the transformation where customers tell Manufacturers about their preferences and the top 5 trends affecting the Manufacturing industry for 2013.

Continue reading "Manufacturing trends you cannot afford to miss in 2013" »

January 8, 2013

CIOs, get ready with go-to-market strategies!

In today's business environment, if you are the CIO of a manufacturing company, what is your biggest concern? Not the IT infrastructure, which is running fine. Not the finance and procurement processes - they are more automated and function smoother than ever. And definitely not plant automation or manufacturing execution systems or reporting! Actually, there seem to be no pressing concerns.

CIOs have done more than enough to streamline B2B processes. Today, IT can help capture demands early and accurately. Process automation helps manufacturers plan the entire source-to-ship cycle. As a result, the relationship between manufacturers and their partners is stronger, and the increased transparency has translated to better working capital and more successful partnerships.

In the past, making procurement and manufacturing efficiency the name of the game has pushed aside CIOs to make way for executives doing more 'important' business functions. But nothing lasts forever! With business models changing around the world, the manufacturing industry must scale up, again. And CIOs must rise to the occasion.

Manufacturing CIOs must now take on a more strategic role to figure out the business models of the future. They have to define the role of IT in enabling these business models and building go-to-market strategies. And the best place to start looking for new business models might be closer than you think ¬- banking, energy, logistics and healthcare are just a few of the many other industries that might inspire the next best business model in manufacturing.

While discussing this change with CIOs from many leading companies that work with us, I have identified some common trends that stand out from the rest.

  • A sustainable revenue mix

Industrial equipment and capital goods manufacturers are no longer satisfied selling the equipment they make, they want to know who buys them and for what. They have identified that the after-sales service and repairs for the equipment provides a more long-term and sustainable source of revenue.

  • Metered services

As markets shift east towards developing nations, volumes and small ticket size have become the style, with 'pay per use' and 'pay for output' merging as more attractive models.

  • Customer-centric transformations

Car manufacturers are seeing the industry go through some fundamental changes. On one hand, non-traditional fuels like hydrogen, bio-fuels, and electric sources are changing the engineering and design processes. On the other hand, they are reinventing ways to connect with the actual user.

One thing is certain: the scope of manufacturing CIOs has extended beyond infrastructure and automation - they need to take lead, delve into the business, and shape it to face the challenges of tomorrow.

In my next blog post: a day in the life of the CIO, in 2015...

January 2, 2013

Forecast for 2013 - Cloudy with a chance of greater adoption

Another year went by and there have been predictions, predictions and more predictions. Predictions are important as they set the tone for the ecosystem as a whole. In the Information Technology space, sometimes these predictions have even changed the course of the future as they served as a "guiding star" to new methodologies, frameworks, models and approaches to help businesses solve their problems and reap greater benefits leveraging IT.

The Top 5 buzz words (in general, though you may not agree to all of them) last year were Cloud, Mobility, Big-Data, Social Media and Smartphones.

If we take a pause and see the connection between these 5 areas, we will realize that it boils down to three basic human needs of -

  1. Having the "power" in their hand, wherever they are!
  2. Be pampered as an individual and in a manner that showers "Focus" on him/her
  3. Connect, agree, differ, like, dislike, emote and listen to what the "friends" are talking about

All this has led to provisioning of infrastructure and solutions which are "ubiquitous" (Cloud) which are delivered on personal devices (Smartphones) in an any-where, any-time, any-device, any-form mode (Mobility) leading to a situation where none of us are ever "alone" (Social Media). To make all this "interesting" or "relevant" to the "individual" consumer there is need for frameworks and solution for this huge amount of data to be consumed, analysed and presented (Big Data).

I will not talk about all of them, but definitely about "Cloud" in the enterprise context. There has been significant challenges in understanding, analyzing, deciding and adopting of "Cloud" into the enterprise. The adoption has been sporadic and has been driven (not always) by peer pressure and be the leaders rather than a thought through portfolio assessment approach.

There were eight reasons for greater Cloud acceptance in enterprise last year (and most of them will be remain in 2013 as well)-

  1. Broadened Decision making - The decsion making has broadened base with Business making almost equal number of decisions as comparred to IT which was not possible in an on-premise deployment needing strong technical involvement
  2. Relevance to Business - The business drivers for cloud adoption are closely tied to Business KPIs (things like reduced costs, reduced time to market and operational efficiencies)
  3. Rapid Change in Business Needs - There is an increased need for being agile while responding to changing business conditions in the market. Can a "heavy" on-premise deployment have greater moving parts?
  4. Lower Entry Barriers - Cloud adotion is an "incremental" model with multiple options - private, hybrid and public with lower entry barriers
  5. No Vendor Lock-in - Lesser chances of vendor lock-ins and amenability to leverage multiple cloud solutions
  6. Ability to Co-exist and not compete - Cloud has not replaced legacy completely, but is actually working at "perifery" (which are equally important)
  7. Big names added to list of Cloud Service Providers - Bigger and established enterprise vendors have moved their offerings to the cloud which has built confidence in enterprise customers (addressed concerns on security, integrations, sustainability and scalability)
  8. Challenging Environment - Last, but not the least, the economic environment itself has led to enterprise looking at "Cloud" as a quick fix to some of the classical issues

Since, the enterprises have already walked on the "cloud" path for couple of years now, its time now to leverage these solutions for benefit of self and the extended organizations as well. The extended organization is an area where cloud adoption is less and should be an area of interest to any large enterprise having complex supply chains and widespread distribution network (more on that in my next blog).

This year is going to be a year where more and more applications will be availble on the cloud, will be able to talk to on-premise applications, will be availble 24X7 and will be more robust and secure. Cloud is going to become the default choice for any new application needs for the enterprise! What do you say?

Have a wonderful year ahead and enjoy this jouney to the cloud...