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Top 3 Things Cloud Can Do to Boost Efficiency and Growth

By Renee Boucher, Contributor | September 19, 2019

Moving to the cloud is no longer a question of if. It's when—and how much. Because of the many advantages of cloud computing, most organizations are already embracing it in one form or another.

Even the manufacturing sector—historically behind in cloud adoption—is catching up. More than 90% of manufacturing respondents in a global 2016 Economist survey projected cloud computing would be a significant factor in their business by this year. And it is.

In other words, cloud alone is no longer a business differentiator. Now, the value is in finding growth opportunities in cloud efficiencies.

This is particularly true for industrial organizations like manufacturing. Constantly shifting global markets, increasing competition, and changing customer demands make growth a do-or-die imperative.Constantly shifting global markets, increasing competition, and changing customer demands make growth a do-or-die imperative.

With that in mind, here are three advantages of cloud computing and how they can help drive growth.

1. Use Cloud to Simplify and Integrate Data and Operations

To keep up with the pace of business, you need to be able to react quickly—to customize or introduce new products, ramp capacity, or align supply chains for faster delivery. Moving core systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) to the cloud offers that agility.

These critical management applications are packaged as an integrated suite. They are often linked with other applications like supply chain management through an API integration. This makes relevant, accurate operational data available all in one place—in real time. It simplifies and integrates data and operations. As a result, business is nimbler and more collaborative. This means manufacturers and others in the B2B2C world can work together to analyze and respond to information. Then, they can iterate quickly and capture growth opportunities.

Take, for example, Geneva, Nebraska-based Metal-Tech Partners (MTP)—a custom parts manufacturer in the international telecom industry. To meet the demanding needs of their industry, MTP implemented a cloud-based ERP system. The impact was significant.

The modular system provides end-to-end scalability and flexibility. It also shares data across all applications and throughout the company. This eliminates the need for separate applications, spreadsheets, and “one-off” processes. New information and changes are also immediately reflected throughout the system. Everyone shares the same up-to-date customer, operational, and financial information.

Despite being a small company, MTP has the data and operational efficiencies they need to thrive and grow.

2. Gain Real Time Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chains can be huge and unwieldy. Some products require thousands—or even millions—of components (think flat screen TVs or airplanes) ideally synchronized for production. Cloud-based systems like purchasing, sourcing, inventory, and advanced material and warehouse management enable higher supply chain performance by integrating critical processes. Applying real-time analytics to the massive data sets pumped out from these systems lets manufacturers anticipate shifts in demand—and more efficiently plan and optimize manufacturing and production planning. This better aligns processes for end-to-end supply chain visibility—and growth.

Aerobiotix, Inc.—a manufacturer of professional air treatment systems for the healthcare market—is one such company that benefited from this type of visibility. They implemented a cloud-based ERP system in August 2017, and the benefits helped them achieve a steady growth in sales ever since.

This cloud system lets Aerobiotix track the production, status, and location of each air treatment system manufactured by the company through a five-step assembly process. These products are then consigned to hospitals that also serve as warehouses for additional systems and parts.

Aerobiotix can track every machine in the production cycle and through their use at 30 separate hospitals nationwide. This has enabled the company to easily transfer products and supplies from one location to another, more accurately report sales, and automatically tally general ledger functions at the end of each month. In short, it’s made life easier and facilitated their growth.

3. Delight Customers

Customer experience has become a key component of a manufacturer's growth strategy. The ability to collaboratively source parts, dynamically design products, or respond to customer demand—or lack thereof—can be a true source of customer delight. Happy customers lead to increased loyalty and—in the best case—more demand. Cloud-based systems like customer relationship management (CRM) and customer sales and support (CSS) aggregate customer data from multiple channels to provide a unified view of the customer. They also facilitate real-time engagement—from day-to-day relationship management, through post-sales support. This collaboration and responsiveness to customer needs can be a bona fide source of growth—in some instances on a customer-by-customer basis.

Headquartered in South St. Paul, Minnesota, Wipaire, Inc. is a multigenerational, family owned business that specializes in designing and manufacturing flotation devices for small and medium-sized aircrafts. The company had been using seven disparate systems to manage daily processes, but the lack of integration and data visibility led them to seek out a cloud-based ERP system.

With the new system in place, Wipaire can seamlessly integrate with their third-party CRM solution. Since it’s in the cloud, it’s always updating and providing real-time customer information. Wipaire can then use that information to provide a better experience for each individual customer.

Wipaire has also greatly increased their percentage of on-time deliveries. To keep their customers happy, the company strives for three-day turnarounds on their orders. Before their cloud system, their on-time deliveries were routinely below 40%. Now, they’re consistently above 75%—delighting their customers with accurate, on-time order fulfillment.

The bottom line is, the industrial sector is changing—fast. It's being disrupted at a global scale. Manufacturers, supply chain operators, and others must evolve to keep up and grow.

Cloud computing for business can help companies simplify and integrate data and operations, gain real-time supply chain visibility, and delight customers. And it can help create those growth opportunities.

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