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Technology and Growth: Which Is the Chicken and Which Is the Egg?

Supply Chain Management
May 10, 2013

American manufacturing is definitely bouncing back. This year’s growth is expected to exceed both 2012 rates and GDP increases.

There’s no question that things are looking up. There’s also no doubt that manufacturers are exploring new tools to manage growth, including advanced technologies.

What’s not as clear to many, though, is the role that technology is playing in creating growth. Is technology an engine that drives increased manufacturing demand or a solution that helps manufacturers meet that demand? If you ask users of manufacturing cloud solutions, they’ll tell you it’s both.

The Manufacturing Cloud and Culture Change

Often, the decision to move from paper-based, on-premise, disparate systems to a single, integrated cloud solution is made at the moment a manufacturing company feels it is time to move into a new market or appeal to larger customers.

Company leaders simply realize that they must have a more reliable, robust system in place in order to expand or attract those new customers.

Many businesses implement manufacturing cloud technologies at the same time they’re making the cultural shifts needed to prepare for business growth. In these cases, the technology becomes a change agent. It drives the transition to a more streamlined, efficient and productive organization — one that prospects want to do business with.

Technology Advantages and Reshoring

There’s also a lot of buzz about American manufacturers winning back business they’d previously lost to other regions of the world. In the long run, that may be the best form of business growth. Many of these reshoring success stories come from manufacturing cloud users.

Leading cloud technologies give American manufacturers the edge they need. Most concluded long ago that they can’t compete with other regions of the world on labor costs.

With cloud solutions that are designed from the manufacturing floor up, they are having success gaining new business by emphasizing other advantages, such as:

  • Better shop floor controls
  • Production visibility
  • Speed to market
  • Ease of reporting
  • Flexibility

Manufacturing cloud users are proud to bring prospective customers into their facilities to show off robust, reliable technology. For OEMs and tier one suppliers that could be completely hamstrung if suppliers can’t deliver, confidence is critical.

The manufacturing cloud inspires the confidence needed to seal the deal.

So, as we all know from the age-old chicken-and-egg debate, there’s no clear-cut answer to the question of ‘which came first?’ In the case of manufacturing growth and cloud technology, there shouldn’t be. They feed each other and work together to transform cultures and define modern manufacturing.

Has new technology helped you land new business? How?

About the Author

Jim Shepherd GVP of Corporate Strategy, Plex Systems

Jim Shepherd serves as group Vice President of Corporate Strategy, responsible for defining our strategic direction across multiple industries and global markets. Jim previously served as vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner Inc., the world’s leading information technology research company. Among his many accomplishments, Jim was named the first AMR research fellow. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Wesleyan University.