Manufacturers looking to efficiently upgrade their IT capabilities and gain access to new business application functionality have 2 basic options:
- Subscribe to a SaaS model (fast, easy to assimilate and implement, and very cost-effective).
- 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:
- 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.
- Better Data Visualization. This can improve decision making, reduce product costs, better identify bottlenecks, help to anticipate shortages and improving lean manufacturing procedures.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...