The best manufacturers I’ve visited this year all share a common attribute: they are obsessed with making themselves as easy as possible to work with from a supply chain, distribution and services standpoint. Many are evaluating cloud-based manufacturing applications including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and several have adopted cloud-based applications across their companies.
With so much interest, there is much confusion as well. I recently spoke with Cindy Jutras, founder and CEO of MintJutras. Her firm has recently completed a survey of SaaS adoption in manufacturing, distribution and other industries. She found the following:
- 49% of respondents in the manufacturing & distribution industries do not understand the difference between single- and multi-tenant SaaS architectures. Overall 66% of respondents to the survey did not know.
- SaaS-based applications are 22% of all manufacturing and distribution software installed today, and will grow to 45% within ten years according to MintJutras.
- The three most important characteristics of a SaaS solution in manufacturing and distribution include giving customers a measure of control over upgrades, consistent support for global operations and allowing for rapid and frequent upgrades.
Why Manufacturers Are Looking To Cloud Computing
Manufacturers are under constant pressure to increase accuracy, make process speed a competitive force, and capitalize on their internal intelligence and knowledge to make every supplier, distributor and service interaction count. The manufacturers spoken and visited with to gain the following insights are in the high tech, industrial and aerospace and defense industries, where rapid product lifecycles and short time-to-market schedules are commonplace.
Cloud-based strategies give these companies the chance to bring their own innate intelligence and knowledge into every sales situation. While on-premise systems could also do this, cloud-based systems were quicker to roll out, easier to customize and showed potential to increase adoption rates across resellers.
One manufacturing manager explained how during a new product launch the speed and volume of collaboration was so rapid on between suppliers and distributors that an allocation situation was averted. That he said, made senior management believers. These epiphanies are happening daily in manufacturing.
Based on my visits with manufacturers, here are the ten ways they are using cloud computing to revolutionize manufacturing:
- Capturing and applying company-wide intelligence and knowledge through the use of analytics, business intelligence (BI), and rules engines. For the many manufacturers who rely on build-to-order, configure-to-order and engineer-to-order strategies as a core part of their business models, using cloud-based platforms to capture knowledge and manage rules is accelerating. A key part of this area is mobility support for analytics, BI and rules engine reporting and analysis.
- Piloting and then moving quickly to full launch of supplier portals and collaboration platforms, complete with quality management dashboards and workflows. Among the manufacturers visited, those in high tech are the most advanced in this area, often implementing Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) and demand management applications that deliver real-time order status and forecasts.
- Designing in services is now becoming commonplace, making cloud integration expertise critical for manufacturers. From simplistic services integration on iPhones to the full implementation of voice-activated controls including emergency assistance in the latest luxury cars, adding in services integrated to the cloud is redefining the competitive landscape of industries today. Revising a product or launching an new product generation with embedded services can mitigate price wars, which is why many manufacturers are pursing this strategy today.
- Accelerating new product development and introduction (NPDI) strategies to attain time-to-market objectives. Using cloud-based platforms in high tech manufacturing is growing today as time-to-market constraints are requiring greater collaboration earlier in design cycles.
- Managing indirect and direct channel sales from a single cloud platform tracking sales results against quota at the individual, group and divisional level is now commonplace across all manufacturers visited. Dashboards report back the status by each rep and for sales managers, the profitability of each deal.
- Using cloud-based marketing automation applications to plan, execute and most important, track results of every campaign. Marketing is under a microscope in many manufacturers today, as marketing automation applications have promised to deliver exceptional results and many manufacturers are still struggling to align their internal content, strategies and ability to execute with the potential these systems promise.
- Automating customer service, support and common order status inquiries online, integrating these systems to distributed order management, pricing, and content management platforms. Manufacturing industries are at varying levels of adoption when it comes to automating self-service. The cost and time advantages in high tech are the highest levels of adoption I’ve seen in visiting manufacturers however.
- Increasing reliance on two-tier ERP strategies to gain greater efficiencies in material planning, supplier management and reduce logistics costs. Manufacturers are also using this strategy to gain greater independence from a single ERP vendor dominating their entire operations. Several manufacturers remarked that their large, monolithic ERP systems could not, without intensive programming and customization, scale down to the smaller operational needs in distributed geographic regions. Cloud-based ERP systems are getting the attention of manufacturers pursuing two-tier ERP strategies. Acumatica, Cincom, Microsoft, NetSuite and Plex Systems are leaders in this area of ERP systems.
- Reliance on cloud-based Human Resource Management (HRM) systems to unify all manufacturing locations globally. This often includes combining multisite talent management, recruiting, payroll and time tracking. Contract manufacturer Flextronics uses Workday to optimize workforce allocations across their global manufacturing centers for example.
Bottom Line: Using cloud-based systems to streamline key areas of their business, manufacturers are freeing up more time to invest in new products and selling more.
Enterprises are beginning to change their buying behaviors based on the deployment speed, economics and customization that cloud-based technologies provide. Gartner cautions however that enterprises are far from abandoning their on-premise models and applications entirely for the cloud.
Based on an analysis of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, 2012, the best results are being attained by enterprises that focus on a very specific strategy and look to cloud-based technologies to accelerate their performance. Leading with a strategic framework of goals and objectives increases the probability of cloud-based platform success. Those enterprises that look to cloud platforms only for cost reduction miss out on their full potential.
The Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, 2012 is shown below:
Cloudwashing and Inflated Enterprise Expectations
While the hype surrounding cloud computing may have peaked, cloudwashing continues to cause confusion and inflated expectations with enterprise buyers. This just slows down sales cycles, when more straightforward selling could lead to more pilots, sales and a potentially larger market. Cloud vendors who have the expertise gained from delivering cloud platforms on time, under budget, with customer references showing results are starting to overtake those that using cloudwashing as part of their selling strategies.
Additional take-aways from the Gartner Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing include the following:
- Cloud Email is expected to have a 10% adoption rate in enterprises by 2014, down from the 20% Gartner had forecasted in previous Hype Cycles. This represents modest growth as the adoption rate of this category had been between 5 and 6% in 2011.
- Big Data will deliver transformational benefits to enterprises within 2 to 5 years, and by 2015 will enable enterprises adopting this technology to outperform competitors by 20% in every available financial metric. Gartner defines Big Data as including large volumes processed in streams, in addition to batch. Integral to Big Data is an extensible services framework that can deploy processing to the data or bring data to the process workflow itself. Gartner also includes more than one asset type of data in their definition, including structured and unstructured content. The Priority Matrix for Cloud Computing, 2012 is shown below:
- Master Data Management (MDM) Solutions in the Cloud and Hybrid IT are included in this hype cycle for the first time in 2012. Gartner reports that MDM Solutions in the Cloud is getting additional interest from Enterprise buyers as part of a continual upward trend of interest in MDM overall. Dominant vendors in this emerging area include Cognizant, Data Scout, IBM, Informatica, Oracle and Orchestra Networks, are among those with MDM-in-the-cloud solutions.
- PaaS continues to be one of the most misunderstood aspects of cloud platforms. The widening gap between enterprise expectations and experiences is most prevalent in this market. Gartner claims this is attributable to the relatively narrow middleware functions delivered and the consolidation fo vendors and service providers in this market.
- By 2014 the Personal Cloud will have replaced the personal computer as the center of user’s digital lives.
- Private Cloud Computing is among the highest interest areas across all cloud computing according to Gartner, with 75% of respondents in Gartner polls saying they plan to pursue a strategy in this area by 2014. Pilot and production deployments are in process across many different enterprises today, with one of the major goals being the evaluation of virtualization-driven value and benefits.
- SaaS is rapidly gaining adoption in enterprises, leading Gartner to forecast more than 50% of enterprises will have some form of SaaS-based application strategy by 2015. Factors driving this adoption are the high priority enterprises are putting on customer relationships, gaining greater insights through analytics, overcoming IT- and capital budget-based limitations, and aligning IT more efficiently to strategic goals.
- More than 50% of all virtualization workloads are based on the x86 architecture. This is expected to increase to 75% by 2015. Gartner reports this is a disruptive innovation which is changing the relationship between IT and enterprise where service levels and usage can be tracked.
Bottom line: Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing shows that when cloud-based platforms are aligned with well-defined strategic initiatives and line-of-business objectives, they deliver valuable contributions to an enterprise. It also shows how Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) are the catalysts of long-term market growth. The following slide from the presentation High-Tech Tuesday Webinar: Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast, 2Q12 Update: Cloud Is the Silver Lining (free for download) also makes this point.
The latest round of SaaS ERP market forecasts are more grounded in the reality of CIO priorities and committed projects in 2012 than ever before. And this is good news for the many vendors competing in the Financial Management Systems (FMS), Human Capital Management (HCM) and Manufacturing segments of the SaaS ERP market.
Two weeks ago in Houston I interviewed twenty-five different CIOs, IT Directors, CEOs and CTOs as part of a persona research study I am doing. Their take on SaaS ERP was consistent with what this round-up shows, namely this type of SaaS application is best suited for extending beyond, not replacing, the main ERP systems and platforms. I concentrated on SaaS ERP adoption in manufacturing and learned the following during my interviews:
- Usability and speed of deployment are the two most common benefits CIOs mentioned in my survey during Convergence. The economics of cloud computing is a topic that CFOs love to talk about, especially in the areas of value-based pricing and how that is determined.
- When asked what kept them up at night, CIOs said it was the thought of a call from their boss (often the CFO) that a cloud system had been compromised or had completely gone down. Security and reliability are holding back CIOs in manufacturing from adopting SaaS-based ERP systems more pervasively in their companies.
- CIOs from aerospace and defense companies get the benefits of cloud computing, yet they have much bigger issues to deal with right now, like replacing financials in their existing ERP system and staying in compliance to government requirements. Earned Value Management is a major focus they have as well. SaaS-based ERP systems are interesting to them; they however would require a completely enclosed, locked-down implementation due to security requirements.
- There are vast differences in how CIOs view cloud computing – something that the following forecasts don’t really capture. For the CIOs who are strategists, cloud computing in general and SaaS ERP specifically is a consideration given the agility and time-to-market, providing customization is held to a minimum. CIOs who came up through IT have a healthy degree of skepticism and see SaaS ERP as potentially useful for scaling out an operation yet never being the primary financial system.
Here are the latest SaaS ERP forecasts and market estimates:
- Gartner released their latest SaaS revenue forecast last week predicting revenue will reach $14.5B this year, a 17.9% increase from 2011 of $12.3B, with strong growth predicted through 2015 when the market is expected to be $22.1B. Source: http://www.itjungle.com/tfh/tfh040212-story08.html
- In the report Market Trends: Cloud Computing and SaaS Adoption in Manufacturing and Natural Resources, Worldwide, 2012 Gartner is predicting 59% of manufacturers will adopt IaaS during the 2011 – 2015 timeframe and 47% will be either piloting or using SaaS-based applications. Gartner cites the need for greater business and supply chain agility as the factors driving this rapid adoption. The following figure is from the Gartner report Market Trends: Cloud Computing and SaaS Adoption in Manufacturing and Natural Resources, Worldwide, 2012.
- Forrester forecasts SaaS ERP spending staying at 2% of the global ERP market, while Gartner forecasts 7% through 2012. Gartner is projecting Project and Portfolio Management (29.1%) and Supply Chain Management (22.1%) will see the greatest growth rates through 2015. Supply Chain Management is expected to reach $2.7B in revenue by 2015. The Total Software Revenue Forecast for SaaS Delivery Within Enterprise Software is shown in the following table. Source: Forecast: Software as a Service, Worldwide, 2010-2015, 1H11 Update Published: 22 June 2011 Analyst(s): Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster
- Gartner, IDC and Forrester all predict that Human Capital Management (HCM) will see the broadest adoption of all SaaS-based ERP components through 2015. Vendors in this category include ADP, Concur, Cornerstone onDemand, HumanConcepts, Infor, Kenexa, Lumesse, Saba, SilkRoad, Sonar6, SuccessFactors, SumTotal Systems, Taleo, Ultimate Software and Workday. Based on a recent Gartner Spending and Usage of SaaS Survey, 39% of manufacturers are piloting or using SaaS-based financials followed by 37% using Expense Management.The following figure illustrates their forecast, from the report Market Trends: Cloud Computing and SaaS Adoption in Manufacturing and Natural Resources, Worldwide, 2012
- Gartner’s IT Market Clock for ERP Platform Technology indicates that multitenant SaaS-based ERP is maturing rapidly, driven by time-to-market and cost advantages. The IT Market Clock is shown below, indicating SaaS ERP-based systems position relative to other ERP platforms now in use. Vendors including Epicor Express Editions, Glovia, Kenandy, NetSuite, Plex Systems, and SAP Business ByDesign compete in this segment.Source: IT Market Clock for ERP Platform Technology, 2011 Published: 19 September 2011 Analyst: Jim Shepherd.
Gartner has also compiled a Market Clock Recommendation Summary which is shown in the following table. Of the CIOs I’ve spoken with during the persona research, the description of Multitenant SaaS is accurate. No CIO I’ve spoken with is willing to bet their job on a rip-and-replace strategy for SaaS ERP; yet many are willing to extend their existing ERP systems using SaaS implementations to get up and running quickly at lower cost. The one caveat nearly everyone mentions is little or no customization is necessary for SaaS ERP systems to be even evaluated by their companies. Slight configuration is expected; however in-depth customization is not.
Bottom line: The persona research completed shows that the SaaS-based ERP growth is being helped by the transition occurring in the CIO ranks today. More of them are strategists, who are expected to make business strategies happen, over and above just keeping the system dial tone on in their enterprises.