Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rich Internet Apps - 5 Benefits for Manufacturing Companies (Part 1)

Manufacturers looking to efficiently upgrade their IT capabilities and gain access to new business application functionality have 2 basic options:

  1. Subscribe to a SaaS model (fast, easy to assimilate and implement, and very cost-effective).
  2. Use custom software development (more expensive, not easily adaptable to new business demands, and not very applicable to organizations with a mobile workforce).

By custom creating a Rich Internet Application (RIA) you can actually solve most of the problems raised in point 2, providing manufacturers, and indeed any organization, with a viable and cost-effective alternative if they have come to the conclusion that they need something more than SaaS.

Manufacturers who have implemented custom RIA systems report a number of benefits. Here are 5 of the most important:

  1. Mobile Access to Information. A number of manufacturing systems can potentially benefit from mobile access including CRM systems for sales teams, shop floor and inventory systems. Plant managers and supervisors are can access mission-critical information without being anchored to a static workstation.
  2. Better Data Visualization. This can improve decision making, reduce product costs, better identify bottlenecks, help to anticipate shortages and improving lean manufacturing procedures.
  3. Batch and Item Level Tracking. With RFID, barcode and other tracking systems, RIAs can provide instant visualization of work-in-process (WIP) and inventory information that's important in managing manufacturing processes.
  4. Integration across Multiple Systems. RIAs can pull data from multiple data warehouses and systems, and present information on a single screen or reduced number of screens with visualization capabilities, as well as drill-down capability to view more detailed information.
  5. Master Item Synchronization. Custom designed RIA applications accessing local data warehouses can be optimized for master item synchronization, potentially saving organizations millions.

All in all then, the benefits of custom-writing Rich Internet Applications present some excellent benefits for manufacturers. That is, until you start writing. Then you realize that a web app that combines the power and functionality of a desktop app comes at a price - system complexity.

In our next post, we'll discuss how developing and deploying Rich Internet Applications using a metadata-driven application platform can help you get around that complexity and achieve RIA faster and cost-effectively...