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Infor: Putting Manufacturing in Cloud

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Greater speed, value, innovation, and closer alignment with demanding customers will be the new normal.

Bino George,
Head – Pre Sales, Infor

Being one of the largest players in the Cloud applications space globally, our plan is to further leverage our expertise for customers in India and bring the country to the forefront of industrial manufacturing world-over, says Bino George, Head – Pre Sales, Infor in an interview with OEM Update. Edited excerpt:

How do you envision the future of industrial manufacturing in India?
Over a decade ago, industrial manufacturing was not considered as an important industry to invest in for most economies around the world. The road to the future of the industry is where information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) converge. Whether it is called Factory of the Future, Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 or the Digital Enterprise, they all have elements in common. This road to the Factory of the Future is the superhighway of technology, innovation, and advanced capabilities. This massive disruption which is ushered in with the fourth industrial revolution is creating what we are calling a ‘Renaissance’ or a paradigm shift. At the other end of this transformation lies the promise of growth as manufacturers and their suppliers deploy and integrate more technologies across the entire manufacturing landscape. Greater speed, value, innovation, and closer alignment with demanding customers will be the new normal. Analysts often cite the year 2020 as the next milestone moment. Some point to 2030 or 2050 as being the thresholds.

Are we moving in the right direction?
In my opinion, the Indian sub-continent is in a very fast transition phase to go digital and it’s a wave that everyone wants to ride. According to a report from SCM World, 40 per cent of manufacturers they surveyed worldwide say that smart manufacturing along with its foundational technology—the Internet of Things—is within reach, and it’s the right time to invest. Huffington Post reports that early adopters who have at least partially implemented smart manufacturing initiatives have documented measurable results such as – 82 per cent reported increased efficiency, 49 per cent reported fewer product defects, 45 per cent reported customer satisfaction gains. These are indicative of progress in the right direction. There seems to be a consensus that a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude is highly risky, exposing companies to the danger of losing market share to an existing competitor or a start-up with a low-cost alternative product. Time and technological innovations are ripe to make the Factory of the Future a reality now.

Is there any change in the manufacturers’ mindset post ‘Make in India’?
Implemented with the aim of making India the world’s manufacturing hub, the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the current government has been widely accepted in the manufacturing industry. However, I would say that its impact currently remains more as a mindset shift and will take time (7 – 10 years) to translate into concrete efforts on ground, especially with technology investments. This is more so with age-old sectors such as automotive, which have been established since the 1940’s and already have in place legacy technology infrastructure. Whether it involves implementation of applications or merely upgrading existing systems, companies tend to be apprehensive about investing time, money and more importantly, efforts into people skilling. For change to be reflected on ground, enterprises will have to wait until the next capital cycle. On the other end of the spectrum are the relatively newer industries such as solar power, for example, which would be ripe for adoption of technology. Either way, it is speculated that, with various government initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’, India aims to set an ambitious target of increasing the contribution of manufacturing output to 25 per cent of GDP by 2025 (from 16 per cent currently). In addition to catering to the strong consumerism in the domestic market, we should also consider an export-oriented approach for manufacturing across sectors. This would provide the edge to emerge as world’s top three growth economies and amongst the top three manufacturing destinations by 2020.

Do we have the right kind of infrastructure to get in to “Factory of the Future”?
The main aim of ‘Factory of the Future’ is to effectively and seamlessly bring about integration between man and machine. Disruptive technologies like robotics or IoT, essentially facilitate this integration and are in the consideration set of manufacturers to augur benefits such as profitability and longevity. However, in this context, we need to take a step back and go back to basics. While it is great to talk of disruption, there is a basic infrastructure that is to be in place for any kind of technology implementation. Among others, Internet connectivity is one of the biggest enablers in realising the Industry 4.0 dream.

Having said that, I think we are making great progress in this direction. In my experience of meeting customers across cities like Tirupur, Ludhiana and Chandigarh, I can say that the scenario has improved significantly; these Tier-2 cities are embracing digital. The government has launched several initiatives under the Digital India program to boost Internet connectivity in rural areas. With this and other infrastructure investments in the country, manufacturers are set to adopt a digital modernisation strategy for the continuous evaluation of changing demands and new opportunities. The ultimate goal, however, would be for manufacturers to spur job creation and contribute to creation of a sustainable economy.

How companies like Infor can play a pivotal role in transforming the manufacturing process?
Companies like Infor can directly address the concerns of the manufacturing industry which include pressures to improve performance owing to increasing competition, through technology intervention. To be more specific, at Infor, we have been specialising in industry-specific applications on the Cloud and the digital space for over a decade. Infor has had tremendous global success in this area and replicating this in India will strongly help all our customers in the region.

Infor offers comprehensive, purpose-built solutions, especially in the manufacturing space. With the implementation of the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the government, the country is looking towards industry specialists who have the experience in global mature markets to replicate that in India. Infor has industry-specific products which look beautiful, with consumer-inspired user experience, come with the Cloud deployment, which are very cost effective. Our solutions help get visibility across the company’s global supply chain and system-wide transparency for all key stakeholders. One of our key pillars to success is innovation. We strive to aid in differentiation of brand and build customer loyalty with continually evolving technology that helps turn trends like the Internet of Things and mass customisation into a competitive advantage.

Tell us about your roadmap for the Indian market.
The Indian market is at a point where the future of manufacturing depends not only on the efficiencies in manufacturing but how fast they can reach the consumer. The stage of technology adoption has surpassed deployment and is moving on to utilising business applications for complete automation and Cloud-enablement for catering to global supply chains. With the first level of application consumption complete, enterprises are gradually traversing to the next phase which includes leveraging this technology to their competitive advantage. In this context, we work with our customers to make our application user experience more superior, intuitive and user-friendly such that it has two key touch points. The first is of course, the workforce that uses the applications. We see that retaining employees, especially millennials is a challenge in the manufacturing sector. Infor builds beautiful business applications which are similar to the user experience of applications in our personal lives. This encourages employees to collaborate more and solve problems together, having a direct impact on retention.

In addition, Infor has Data Science Labs which converts data into actionable insights, helping businesses make informed decisions, solve sector-specific business problems, and usher optimisation. Being one of the largest players in the Cloud applications space globally, our plan is to further leverage our expertise for customers in India and bring the country to the forefront of industrial manufacturing world-over.

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