Industry 4.0 - Where Industry Meets Intelligence

by Mr. Balaji R - Vice President - Manufacturing & Infrastructure, Ramco Systems Limited

Wonder how business was done few decades ago? No communications, no email, no Internet; forget about social media and business integration or big data. Businesses have always been at the forefront of technology for ages. Whatever helped businesses speed up production, would drive business. In the 20th century businesses witnessed the advent of computers. Today we are cashing on SMAC including big data analytics, wearables, nearables, etc. the next big buzz is around ‘Industry 4.0’ and soon we will have machines talking to each other in order to process work and one has to interfere just in case of any exceptions.

Technology has helped many new businesses emerge with new business models. The rate at which technology is driving you and your business, tomorrow you may work sitting in autonomous cars, hire trans-humans for your tasks and use some next generation gadgets to make your life easy. The future automotive may not be the automotive of today!

Using new IT levers, CXOs are helping their enterprises reduce the operating costs with increasing flexibility to respond to the changing environmental conditions, thus trying to become market-driven rather than just being a sales-driven company.

Resource Planning has a long evolutionary history of almost 5 decades in the technological field and many new players are constantly entering this business with innovations that are disrupting the market place.

Technology helped businesses go global. As businesses became global, they had to depend on more and more processes, activities, functions and systems to run their businesses. ERP systems acted as an enabler to integrate various departments, streamline processes like Procure-to-Pay, Order-to-Cash… standardize the reporting needs, ensuring uniform flow of information across the organization. The businesses have reaped huge benefits out of their investments. Small businesses have also benefitted by acquiring best industry practices like Kanban, Kaizen, JIT, etc.  By automating business processes, companies streamlined their day-to-day tasks and hence staff personnel could focus more on business issues, therefore increasing productivity and reducing operating and overhead costs. Cognitive learning is helping users eliminate, automate and consolidate (into shared services) processes/ transactions further improving users’ productivity.

For any organization, a resource is anything from People, Product, Plant, Vendor, Material, Market intelligence to book that aids in revenue generation. For trans-national businesses, visibility, tracking and monitoring across the supply chain is important and technologies like RFID and Bar Coding help them, better. Theory of Constraints merged with technology has helped in managing bottlenecks thereby maintaining low prices & high product (or service) quality towards meeting customer demand, leaving no room for poor resource management.

3D Printing assists one in the design, production, and customer interaction at every stage of business, ensuring detailed information, control, and flexibility than ever. Such technologies help business scale up/down on demand thus minimizing expenses.

Traditional ERP is no longer a need of the market. Users want intelligent systems with simple information to enter, to reduce the process turnaround time. Today majority of the business is driven over smart devices such as smartphones, iPad, and wearables, to make quick decisions on the move. In short, systems have moved away from a ‘system of records’ to business partner helping businesses in strategic, tactical and operational growth plans. It provides the customer with a concrete Return on Investment that can be a stepping stone, moving forward.

Challenges as an IT leader

  • As a company, we have to visualize and live technology. We have to know the client’s business to deliver value i.e. continuously innovate and co-create value, for the client’s ecosystem
  • Many organizations still treat IT as a cost! In such cases it gets difficult to analyze and understand the technological benefits
  • How to be better than the best or at least keep pace with the competition to acquire mainstream market
  • Laggards have always been a difficult market to serve to. If you are unfortunate, then in trying to cater to them you may end up losing the market share.
  • Technology is changing rapidly and so are businesses. Marketing your product to your customer for them to smoothly transit to new technology, is normally excruciatingly awkward because you are asking your customer to adopt new strategies, just at the time they have become comfortable with the old ones
  • Deliver Smarter products and services

Opportunities:

  • Majority of late adopters (approximately 33% in the market)
  • Organizations looking at replacing existing technology
  • Interweaving business with Technology
  • Speedier, Agile systems at lower price
  • The need of the hour is no longer business integration systems; it is about your system telling the decision makers ‘HOW TO RESPOND’ i.e. intelligent, interconnected systems supporting activities along the entire value chain.

 

New initiatives taken by Ramco

To be the next generation Technology partner for our customers, Ramco has come up with several new IT initiatives –

  • Making software simple to use and high on Usability, which involves Cut-the-clutter OR show the users what is required
  • Straight through processing to manage transactions by exception to help increase process turnaround time
  • Context-based computing
  • The availability of the solution on Wearable and nearables,
  • Gesture computing & Voice computing
  • Anywhere, anytime, any device access

  

Companies are increasingly accepting the fact that their economic value is a result of the technology they adopt. Although some companies are just waking up to this reality, others are already cashing in.

One flip side of technology is that businesses want technology to be like refrigerators – you open the door, the light comes out automatically, your food stays cold, and you don’t have to think about it… But, this is not the case and business should accept the fact.

“Increased enterprise productivity and efficiency is a Journey itself, not a destination”.