Studies have shown that best in class businesses on the latest versions of their ERP report greater benefits as a result of their solution in a variety of key performance indicators, including on-time in full shipments, operational costs, inventory turns and schedule compliance*
Such a direct correlation between staying current and operating a good business means that as adequate as it may be or seem, your decades-old IT system is probably limiting your business’ future growth and profitability.
To learn more, The Manufacturer recently sat down with Andrew Kinder, VP Industry & Solution Strategy at global enterprise software provider, Infor.
Conversations around cloud have historically been dominated by concerns around cybersecurity and protection. How have attitudes changed?
Security questions still get asked but what’s changed is that these are no longer inhibitors to adoption. In the past, many of the IT professionals in manufacturing I spoke with said they’d never embrace the cloud, largely because of security concerns. I no longer hear these concerns expressed in such absolute terms, which is tremendously encouraging.
Attitudes are unquestionably changing, helped in no small part I’m sure, by people’s acceptance of banking via a smartphone app. If we’re happy to conduct our personal finances in the cloud, then we’re going to accept our business information being held there as well.
Infor’s cloud partner is Amazon Web Services, and there’s been a widespread realisation that an organisation like AWS is going to have infinitely more in-house expertise and invest infinitely more money on cybersecurity protection than any single business can do itself.
Some companies do still want to keep certain aspects of their operation on-premise – there are sensitivities around areas such as product design; but in general, I would say that the argument has turned.
How to claim your spot in the fast lane with Cloud Technology
Increasingly, cloud technology is being seen as an essential tool for turning change from a threat into an opportunity.
Imagine being able to:
- Open new offices and acquire new companies without having to worry about buying servers or managing a myriad of technology platforms.
- Expand and contract system capacity seamlessly to accommodate seasonal or cyclical variations.
- Reduce the burden on IT and allow those valuable resources to focus on more strategic activities.
- Enable employees to work the way they live—on their mobile devices and on-the-go.
To learn five key ways cloud computing can make these ‘what if’ scenarios possible, please click here.
What is Infor doing to alleviate any lingering doubts or concerns?
Our cloud partner, AWS, is one of the most secure providers in the world, certainly the largest by far, and I don’t believe anyone has ever managed to hack them. But it’s not just about our cloud hosting partner, we have embedded application management and security protocols between AWS layer and Infor’s own applications.
These protocols ensure that when people are logged on, they are doing the right things in the right way to protect themselves and their organisation; they ensure that when our applications talk to- third-party applications that this exchange is conducted securely; and they ensure that when information moves from on-premise to the cloud and back again, security is maintained.
When it comes to security vulnerabilities, these are not with the data in the cloud, they are in the transmission to get it there in the first place.
First, IoT devices weren’t designed and built for the level of security being demanded of them today; something device manufacturers are now rapidly addressing.
Second, people. As users, we don’t change our default passwords to more secure alternatives as often as we should, or we can be guilty of using the same password for every business application or write them down on sticky notes on PC’s and workstations.
If we leave ourselves logged in to workstations, open unrecognised emails, download unsecured files or use memory sticks without first checking to make sure they’re secure, we open our business systems to vulnerabilities.
So, how can businesses provide adequate cybersecurity training for their workforce, given that there’s a general lack of available talent and awareness?
Let’s take email as an example. Is the onus on the company to train staff in how to use email safely or securely; or is it up to the product provider to make it easier for the user to not make those mistakes?
Could having an auto-play video or text pop-up appear when you try to open an attachment, or appear every five days as a security reminder, help improve behaviour? If so, businesses would probably gravitate towards those providers offering such built-in measures.
The other aspect is that email systems can perform a whole host of different functions related to security or otherwise, but users are largely ignorant of them. As a user myself, I’m not going to spend hours learning the intricacies of one email system.
I need an automated system that will warn me or offer advice prior to me taking a potentially unsafe action or lock me out and prevent me from taking it.
It shouldn’t be up to businesses to put more training in – that’s the easy answer ‘do more training’. It’s up to us as technology partners and vendors to create applications that anticipate human errors and help to prevent them.
How does cloud help established manufacturers remain relevant in the face of fast-changing customer attitudes and market disruption?
Put simply, it helps you stay current. Today, the vast of majority of on-premise customers are not on the latest release. Yet we all use smartphones and when an update comes through for iOS or Android, we press the button and our device is updated in minutes.
No one is using a smartphone running software from five years ago; so, why would you remain on a software version last updated in 2012? Think of all the changes in your business since then. Falling behind on upgrades, denies you all the improvements and added functionalities that have been developed over the past several years.
When your customer asks you to do something different, you want to be able to say ‘yes’ and with the latest versions offering more functionality, flexibility and business agility – saying yes is easier than ever.
ERP systems are changing, they are becoming more open to participate in eco-systems through API’s and micro-services. It’s becoming easier and more accepted to share data between manufacturers, customers, suppliers, designers and transport providers. In fact, how you manage your ecosystem will increasingly determine how successful your business is, rather than what you do in isolation within your own four walls.
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty at the moment, reflecting both domestic and global concerns. The successful businesses are those leveraging real-time data to gain visibility of what’s going on not just in their own organisation, but that of their suppliers, partners and customers.
The Manufacturer also spoke to Andrew about why data is the new currency and why, for customers, experience is the new selling.
*Source: The Value of Upgrading ERP, Aberdeen Research