Gartner recently interviewed several hundred CEOs and other C-level directors from the manufacturing vertical, asking the top issues they expect their CIOs to cover. Five topics rose above others:
- Digitalization - 11%
- Operational Efficiency - 11%
- ERP - 11%
- Data and Analytics - 10%
- Cybersecurity - 10%
All other topics, like "new technology in general", "Strategy and Innovation", "Infrastructure" and "Remote work" fell to 5% or less.
How can the modern integration Platform as-a-Service (iPaaS) help to enable these?
Digitalization - enabled with enteprise iPaaS
CEOs in different verticals see digitalization slightly differently. However, clear is that the pandemic has triggered a business transformation towards more resilient, automated services and processes. There are also clear signs of growing demand for as-a-service business models, where end customers don't buy products but subscribe to them and have everything, like maintenance and updates, as a service.
For example, a large office company doesn't buy monitors and loudspeakers for them but subscribes to audiovisual services. An audiovisual service supplier then installs all the monitors, projectors, loudspeakers, etc., needed in the office complex and takes care of the maintenance, monitoring, and replacing broken infrastructure without the end-customer doing anything but paying a single monthly fee. In one of our Frends iPaaS cases, an audiovisual service provider connects all devices into a single asset and health monitor for themselves. Frends iPaaS enables IoT connectivity and either receives or polls the status of each device directly from the device or indirectly via the manufacturer's API interfaces. Via this monitor, the service provider can proactively fix problems from warnings or usage hours and react to alerts before the end-customer bumps into a broken device. This case is an excellent example of a new kind of infrastructure as a service. Similar services exist for tools like employee laptops or cars.
Imagination is the only limit in digitalization. Companies with consumer services like amusement parks and resorts are also in the game. For example, Levi Ski Resort implemented "a smart mountain" mobile application for their visitors. It shows your location within the slopes with exact temperature information from snow guns, queues in different lifts, weather forecasts from public APIs, real-time estimation of ski bus arrival based on live bus location and speed, and much more. Although the mobile app is fancy with its 3D mountain maps, the back-bone infrastructure is also impressive. Frends gathers all data from IoT devices with the speed and concurrency they can handle to a single hyperfast cloud data storage that can serve thousands of concurrent mobile app requests. This uncoupled architecture follows the approach called Digital Integration Hub. Read the whole case from here if you are interested.
Manufacturers of these devices enable digitalization by building API support in their products. For manufacturers, this is essential as otherwise, they shall be out of these new ecosystems and mashup services. When publishing APIs via iPaaS, they can be consumed by internal applications like own customer-facing mobile app or directly by partners and third parties. It is essential to ensure the security of APIs. Make sure that the iPaaS you are using includes all the modern security features out-of-the-box. Frends, for example, supports all the current security standards.
Efficiency with Hyperautomation
In the manufacturing business, systems like Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Warehouse Management System (WMS), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) play a significant role together with the ERP. Manufacturing companies, among others, are automating processes that run on top of these systems. The enterprise process automation often falls into the hand of modern iPaaS (Business Process Automation + APIs) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tools. Quite often, process automation includes machine learning-based decision making, categorizing items with ML or OCR. Spicing processes with AI increases the level of automation, bringing the company closer to the hyperautomated state. You can find more about hyperautomation here.
Hyperautomation is a holistic view where "everything is automated", even the decisions that required a human earlier get automated with machine learning steps inside a process. Automation doesn't stop in the abstract world; for example, forklifts moving items in a production plant or warehouse can be fully or partially automated. See more about how material handling evolves towards goods flow management with a little help from Frends iPaaS. According to Gartner, the future of ERPs is composable, which means that ERP is modular and integrated with all other systems and all pieces are easily changeable.
Enabling Data-Driven leadership with iPaaS
As in many other verticals, data transparency in different process phases is essential for intelligent decision-making in the manufacturing business. It is also crucial to get data from business partners like suppliers and own customers and sometimes spice that with public APIs. When the maturity of process automation is high enough, meaning that all the critical processes are automated with iPaaS, it is easy to create a data storage or data lake about essential processes. This data gets enriched with data available from partner and public APIs. This way, we have a live database of KPIs that can be viewed via PowerBi or Qlikview and similar. Read more about how Frends enterprise iPaaS help customers to enable data-driven leadership by bringing the data together thoroughly cleansed.
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Modern iPaaS is an enabler for all the five key areas: digitalization, operational Efficiency, ERP, Data and Analytics, and cybersecurity. Don't hesitate to contact us if any of the topics interest you.