How Manufacturers Can Maximize the Cloud

For decades manufacturers have relied on technology to help them run their businesses, make decisions, and keep customers happy. From Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to warehouse and supply chain logistics to field service and beyond, technology and software platforms have helped make organizations faster and more profitable. Now that these business-critical platforms are moving to the cloud, manufacturers have a new way to leverage technology.

If you’re a manufacturer looking to make the most of an investment in cloud platforms, here are three steps to get you there and ensure you get the most value from your systems.

#1 : Get real

The path of least resistance is to keep doing whatever you’re doing and hope for the best: using an ERP platform that’s 20 years old; amassing data from five teams in five different formats; sighing when top-line numbers are completely off from projections. But why would you let yourself stall out at good when you could ramp up to great?

Maximizing the cloud starts with taking stock of what you have in place today and what isn’t working as smoothly as it could. Auditing your platforms, teams, and data is the only way to have a candid conversation about what’s working and what needs to change immediately.

Ask Yourself:

  • Do I have complete end-to-end business visibility?
  • Can I make changes to my systems in real-time to support my strategy?
  • Do my teams have the tools they need to collaborate, access up-to-date data, and delight the customer?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s time to investigate what the cloud has to offer and where you can supplement and improve your processes.

Action Item: Consider bringing in an outside expert that can help you thoroughly review what’s in place and make practical suggestions about how to move forward.

#2 : Stop hoping for a silver bullet from your ERP

Many manufacturers have been disappointed by the promise of a system (typically an ERP platform) that could solve all their problems with its add-on modules. The hard truth is that nobody is perfect at everything—and especially not an ERP platform that says it can handle advanced quoting, field service, CRM, etc.

This is where the cloud is so powerful. Cloud applications and platforms give you the speed, expertise, and flexibility an ERP platform alone (even with all the snazzy extra modules) cannot. As an added benefit, cloud systems are built to be complementary so they’re easy to integrate with the systems you have in place. This ensures you aren’t completely beholden to one single vendor while still giving you the capabilities you need

Ask Yourself:

  • Are my teams effectively using collaboration tools to interact and delight our customers?
  • My teams aren’t just at their desks all day—can they collaborate from any where on any device?

Action Item: Despite what that ERP sales rep told you, your ERP cannot in fact do it all. Prioritize your biggest business functions (and system headaches) and look at cloud solutions that can fill the gaps.

#3 : Remember, there’s no “on-premise” in teamwork

One of the best features of cloud solutions is their focus on collaboration and teamwork. Salesforce Chatter is a great example of how individuals can connect and collaborate in real-time via any device to build solutions for customers and get sales done. To truly maximize your cloud investment, you need to not only use the collaboration functionality of your platforms, you need to look for complementary apps and solutions that enhance collaboration.

Ask Yourself:

  • Are my teams effectively using collaboration tools to interact and delight our customers?
  • My teams aren’t just at their desks all day—can they collaborate from anywhere on any device?

The cloud can do amazing things to enhance collaboration—to get real ROI from your platforms, you need to take advantage of all it has to offer in leveraging real-time connectivity.

Maximizing the cloud requires more than simply implementing cloud technologies. For manufacturers in particular, it’s important to consider how the platforms will be used on a daily basis so that they can be optimized to support your growth. Contact Luxent for more information about how our team of manufacturing cloud experts can help you maximize your cloud investment.

Action Item: Look at how your teams collaborate today, especially when it comes to completing key activities like sending quotes, providing service, or connecting with the partner channel. Maximizing the cloud requires more than simply implementing cloud technologies. For manufacturers in particular, it’s important to consider how the platforms will be used on a daily basis so that they can be optimized to support your growth. Contact Luxent for more information about how our team of manufacturing cloud experts can help you maximize your cloud investment.

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