Software AG’s new tagline “Freedom as a Service” is especially meaningful to the manufacturing industry. Since the industrial revolution, manufacturers have been focused on obtaining data to streamline operations, improve production quality, improve products and obtain greater market share.
The rise of machinery and automation gave birth to new quality programs heralded by early leaders like W. Edwards Deming. Advancements continued and by the mid-eighties Bill Smith ushered in the rise of the Six Sigma data-driven approach to quality management.
This wasn’t limited to production quality; as manufacturers searched for ways to improve themselves, advanced planning and financial applications like the enterprise resource planning (ERP) came to light. At every turn, manufacturers had to deal with balancing data availability and strategic direction. Automation vendors leveraged closed, proprietary protocols making integrating automation equipment from different vendors difficult. Five-year ERP implementations and closing off systems became standard practice.
IT leaders chose between the “best of breed” applications or an application that, in theory, could communicate with their existing IT landscape.
Yet, manufacturers were still starving for data. Operational units clamored that IT wasn’t providing the data they needed to outpace the competition fast enough, or in the right format. To compensate for this, the term “shadow IT” became popularized as business units found their own applications that, while disconnected from the rest of the organization, satisfied their needs for data and information.
Freedom as a Service is a simple tagline but the meaning and impact to manufacturers is profound and cannot be overstated.
It means that strategy is not bound by closed applications or equipment with proprietary protocols. It means that data flows freely throughout the organization and the users that need it have access to it when they need it. This is accomplished because IT focuses its resources on getting data that is complex, secure and business critical - while business units and partners are able serve themselves through graphical based interfaces.
It means that IT can select applications based on their strategic need and deploy them in their own data center, in the cloud or as a consumption- or subscription-based software as a service (SaaS) offering.
It means that business units aren’t limited to Excel-based calculations or static business intelligence charts created by IT, but that they can perform their own complex analytics, not just on historical data but on streaming data. Field service managers are able to access data from connected products and create their own condition-triggers that are customer and offering specific. It means that data scientists can take this same data and create predictive models in less time and deploy them in hours to days - and not weeks.
It means the production engineers are able to analyze production data, understand the relationships between pieces of equipment, prove root cause hypotheses and not only set operational parameters for exception alerting but to create their own predictive triggers.
It means that customer service and logistics representatives can automate repetitive tasks without IT by not only getting the data from multiple applications but also having non-value added steps completed for them.
Freedom as a Service means that manufacturers are no longer starved for information but are data-driven while acting faster and, most importantly, realizing higher market returns than their peers.
Learn more about Freedom as a Service by clicking below.