Cloud technology has been widely praised for its abilities to streamline operations and bring benefits to businesses. This is a completely different attitude from when the cloud first emerged, and the platform has become more of a viable option for manufacturing processes. Supply chains within every industry, particularly manufacturing, can become very complex very quickly, with limited visibility or flexibility when it comes to monitoring and ensuring timely deliveries.
If anything goes wrong, it affects all other entities within the supply chain, hampering progress and impacting the customer experience. The advantages offered by the cloud make it a valuable opportunity to move supply chain processes and streamline actions. However, organizations will also likely run into a number of challenges that they must be prepared for on their migration journey. Let’s weigh the main pros and cons of moving supply chains to the cloud:
Rising over risks and challenges
As with any new piece of technology, adopting the cloud and moving assets to the platform is not going to be a walk in the park. Not all supply chain strategies are going to be cloud-friendly, and that will impact how the technology is implemented throughout the network. All Things Supply Chain also noted that lack of management support and awareness can kill a cloud migration before it even begins. As more leaders start to understand the benefits of the cloud, they will look to leverage it, but it’s still necessary to show them the business value to push the process along.
Cloud providers also don’t have the same services, making it necessary to do your homework before you partner with one. Some solutions are rigid and don’t allow for customization. Carefully consider all of the features that you must have, alongside the amount of control and security that a vendor provides. This will ensure that you have the capabilities and service level you require to support the success of the business and its staff.
Organizations must also ask about interoperability with current critical assets. Some programs might be more difficult to migrate than others, and a few might not even be able to transition into the cloud. Take inventory of your tools and check their viability with each cloud provider. Ask how long it might take to transfer data and other requirements to make a full migration. Some cloud services also might not have the same security capabilities to support sensitive information and their dependencies. Business leaders must ensure that protections and compliance are upheld in cloud environments across the supply chain.
Looking at the positives
While there are certainly challenges that organizations need to consider before transitioning supply chains to the cloud, the benefits outweigh these difficulties. Many of the problems can be solved by leveraging a hybrid cloud architecture, providing both the flexibility and protection that businesses require. TechTarget contributor Lauren Gibbons Paul noted that many companies choose one provider as their primary cloud vendor, then fill in other tasks with cloud applications or let them stay on premises. Although this will require a lot of integration, it can be made considerably easier by doing the right planning upfront. Mapping integration points and what connections are required will drive a successful implementation.
Hybrid cloud architecture delivers the security resources that often rise above what would be possible through in-house setups. Vendors are increasingly looking to improve their protections and follow the same measures that organizations would take to maintain compliance. CeMAT Australia noted that hybrid models are also easily scalable, meaning that you can quickly provision as required without the fear of infrastructure becoming obsolete. In this way, hybrid cloud ensures that systems are able to meet current needs while also being future-proof for whatever comes next.
Productivity and efficiency are arguably the biggest benefits that the cloud can bring to supply chains. If anything goes wrong at any point, it’s often difficult for organizations to make other arrangements or communicate effectively. The cloud is making it possible to receive updates and track shipments in real time. This way, if a truck full of inventory hits traffic, manufacturers are notified and can adjust accordingly. The point is to not be left waiting, but rather reprioritize items or make other accommodations to ensure timely delivery and reduce downtime as much as possible.
By understanding the pros and cons of the cloud, supply chains can gauge their readiness to migrate and plan accordingly. Challenges can be overcome with the right strategy, providers and tools to help you get there. Embracing a hybrid cloud architecture can be the key to multi-platform co-existence, and the expertise from Inspirage will give you the means to implement it effectively. Awareness of cloud technologies that allow customization and/or extensions to cloud solutions will help make a hybrid approach more feasible. For more information on whether the hybrid cloud is right for you, contact us today.