Last week I had a great opportunity to participate in a video interview with Manufacturing Business Technology. The publication asked me to answer a question that’s on a lot of small manufacturers’ minds: “How can I better embrace technology to make my life easier?” The reality is technology is playing an increasingly important role in manufacturing success because it leads to one thing that is more crucial than anything else: information.
It’s no secret that technology allows companies to better collect data and access information to help them to run their businesses more effectively. However, a lot of smaller companies – like you perhaps – view technology as something only available for big companies. From what I’ve seen, many small businesses are not truly embracing technology because they either: 1) are unaware of what technology is available for them or 2) think that it is too costly.
The good news is that the cloud has enabled technology companies to deliver significant functionality to help small companies benefit from technology in the same way as big companies do, but at an affordable price. This technology helps small businesses collect data or information to help them manage many of the areas that businesses find challenging which can be categorized into three areas including:
Financial – growing revenue, managing cash flow and improving margins
Operational – creating more efficient business processes including production, inventory, sales efficiency and employee productivity
Market/Business – competing more effectively and attracting new customers
Does any of this sound familiar?
With cloud technology on the market today, you can integrate your financial and business processes, providing you an aggregated view of your business information. Access to this holistic view of your business allows you to make timelier and better informed business decisions and because it’s in the cloud, the data is in real-time and can be accessed from anywhere and from any device, allowing you to collaborate with your employees, accountant or other business advisors using the same set of data. I know what you are thinking: give me an example!
Imagine you own a small business manufacturing company (many of you don’t have to imagine; this is reality) and have the right technology in place. As a result, you have a historical view of who has bought what, at what time and at what price. You can see what your margin was. At the same time, you can see the capacity on your shop floor to determine whether you are able to satisfy the order in a time frame that makes sense for you and your customer, and at the right price point. Sounds pretty great, right?
What if you could now look at your customer history? You notice that company X has ordered 50 gaskets every February for the last five years and you realize they have not placed an order this year. You can now be proactive in reaching out to company X with the comfort of knowing you have the raw materials to fulfill the order and the capacity to produce the product.
And imagine if, because of technology, you were able to free up much more of your time with the confidence of knowing you can check in on your business from anywhere. Perhaps you could attend more of your children’s events, take a vacation or spend time doing a hobby. It’s safe to say that technology has the ability to improve quality of life for many small business owners just like yourself.
These are just a few examples of how technology can play a big role in small business manufacturing. The bottom line is that it’s all about information and data and what you do with it that will make you successful. Technology is just the delivery mechanism that brings it all together.
Are you a small business manufacturer? What are the biggest challenges you face? What’s stopping you from adopting technology? While I am a small business evangelist, I will admit, I’m not a small business owner, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.
For those interested in viewing my video interview on Manufacturing Business Technology, visit http://www.mbtmag.com/videos/2014/02/face-face-technology%E2%80%99s-role-manufacturing-0.
Steve Leavitt, GM of U.S. Cloud Solutions for Exact