COVID-19 is doing full justice to the definition of a catalyst we all learned in high school. It has contributed to exponential growth and acceleration in manufacturing along with increased demand in the last 12 months. As of now, the need of the hour is that manufacturers should keep their production and supply chains moving in a digital world, putting a spotlight on efficiency and agility. But what is the need to change? Moreover, it is important to understand how this change is related to intelligent manufacturing and how one can achieve the same. And why the cloud is such a crucial factor in this process—what role does it play? In a digital world, you will come across two types of manufacturers: disruptors and followers. Manufacturers put a lot of focus and energy on cementing their position as a market disruptor. While on the other hand, the rest of them find themselves struggling to navigate the transformation required to truly embrace Industry 4.0. Cloud is the key enabler for this type of disruption. Here’s how you can harness its power to achieve intelligent manufacturing: • By Taking a Data-Centric Approach To realize the true digital potential of the cloud, manufacturers need to stop relying on legacy IT. Instead, they should start placing cloud-scale data management at the heart of their business. The reason for this is that a cloud-first approach helps you lay a strong foundation and form the bedrock of AI, ML, automation, and smart factories while enabling your business to improve its agility and increase its competitive advantage. o If you do it the right way, you can harness the power of AI to provide real-time insight into critical areas across your business. o These areas could be supply chain agility, asset performance, stock control, etc. o It will allow you to make fast decisions based on live data and feed innovation while helping you unlock the true potential of the data that exists within the business. But you need to keep in mind that this type of intelligent manufacturing demands speed, agility, security, and the right culture. The latter often has the least focus, yet it sits at the centre of transformation. Automation and ML help you remove the painstaking amounts of time required for monotonous tasks, but you have to go all creative to fuel the fire for innovation. • By Becoming Cloud Native First of all, you need to understand that digital transformation isn’t solely an IT project since it also requires a cultural shift within the business. It is something that is as important as adopting the technology itself because IT leaders always find themselves surrounded by experts who are highly skilled at using legacy IT systems—the systems that work (as per them). It helps you create a reluctance to change, making it a challenge to be addressed. To tackle this: o You (manufacturers) need to get onboard your people from the very start. o Not only this, but you also need to instil a company-wide cultural shift in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. However, when it comes to technical transformation, you should follow a cloud-native approach since it gives disruptors their competitive edge. You need to keep in mind that in order to be an innovative disrupter, you have to be able to deploy new innovations—innovations that are scalable, secure, reliable, and portable. All of this should be done at a rapid pace. Legacy systems can’t do this: they stunt innovation due to a lack of the capability to keep up with the pace required and prevent manufacturers from becoming flexible adaptors. Hence, the cloud is the future of manufacturing, and transitioning networks to the cloud is an ideal way to embrace intelligent manufacturing. How to Get There? Look for an external vendor with years of experience and expertise in supporting manufacturing organizations with cloud modernization. It should cover everything, i.e., from basic connectivity to complex, autonomous systems. But if you are planning to do things on your own, remember that the core starting point sits within a cloud strategy. Also, keep these things in mind: • It often is the case that the pace of cloud adoption is slowed because you have not defined the business case. It omits a clear plan for organizational transformation and can lead to an incapability to accurately highlight risks. • You can prevent this through a strong cloud strategy provision that helps you develop a clear roadmap aligning directly with your business objectives. • Before starting your cloud journey, consider the overall vision, value case, culture shift, and transformation. • Oversee the change during all phases, i.e., right from assessing real workloads and migrating them to the cloud to implementing software-as-a-service. It will help you increase your business agility and improve performance while helping you quickly adapt to the ever-evolving digital world. And when all of this is combined with technical innovation, it will make embracing intelligent manufacturing seamless for you.