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Cloud Usage in Manufacturing to Triple by 2017

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Efficiency, visibility and productivity in the supply chain are likely three of the top needs global manufacturers have, and they’re getting it with the cloud.

The cloud—that intangible, mostly incomprehensible network of servers that allows for from-anywhere access to files–is helping keep manufacturers in order and many are just now catching on to its merit.

A new study by ICIX, which helps retailers manage supply chain risk, conducted in conjunction with the Manufacturing ISV Cloud Summit held in Chicago in March, found that acceleration to cloud-based platforms will increase exponentially over the next year.

Only 19 percent of manufacturing and operations companies are currently using the cloud, but by 2017, 69 percent expect to be using it. Manufacturing, as tends to be the case, has been late to the game in the uptake of the technology, as sales, marketing and IT departments are already heavy users.

But, as the report noted, “Manufacturing enterprises are increasingly moving to the cloud, pursuing big gains in IT ROI, better process automation, improved data visibility/transparency, and productivity.”

Of the manufacturing companies that have already transitioned to cloud use, many have reaped big rewards and lower costs, and even increased business agility.

More than 60 percent said cloud apps have helped them realize internal benefits.

“Manufacturing and operations professionals have clearly realized that building on one common cloud platform throughout an enterprise has enormous benefits, including improved productivity, better automation of information sharing for improved decision-making and greater transparency,” ICIX chief marketing officer Brian Roufa, said. “With this significant shift in the industry, companies are now moving more and more of their core business functions to the cloud.”

Rajendran Nair, vice president of marketing at Rootstock Software, which helped sponsor the March cloud summit, added, “Just as marketing needs to know what happened to the leads it passed, sales needs to know what happened after they closed deals, and operations needs to know what’s coming down the pipeline. Companies need a unified cloud platform that spans the spectrum of their internal and external operations, and allows data and processes to span multiple solutions that are on this platform.”

According to ICIX, there are three things to consider for successful enterprise cloud migration.

One, companies will have to think beyond sales and marketing, and outline opportunities for data sharing and process automation across departments.

Secondly, choosing a flexible, enterprise-wide platform that works with the company’s specific data and applications to manage both front and back office operations will make all the difference.

Lastly, ICIX says, it’s important not to forget the customers.

“Choose a platform that captures and uses CRM data well—and can share data with consumers and their applications.”

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