Should you upgrade to the cloud and why?

Many of our customers have been hearing the buzz around going to the cloud with their ERP and other systems.  At first, many CFO’s and CIO’s were leary about moving any of their systems off their premises and felt it was more secure to have their data stored onsite where they can keep an eye on it and protect it.

We have seen a shift happening with our customers.  Many are moving their enterprise applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office to a cloud-based application and the IT team is asking to move off of old aging servers to the cloud to reduce their cost of maintenance and capital outlays every few years.

With Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013, many customers had to evaluate their systems and upgrade to newer versions of SQL and Operating Systems.  This requires new hardware or servers to be in place before upgrading their software.  This is a considerable decision to make along with cost of upgrading.   Talk about being kicked when you are already down!

We are seeing clients consider the option of moving GP to a hosted provider or Azure.  Makes sense, right?  Why not move your ERP system to a cloud based solution along with your other applications.  The cloud is then where your software resides, but you can still own the software licenses and data, it’s just hosted and you get to relax about all the server maintenance and let the hosting provider do all the dirty work to support the servers and keep them up and running.

TOP REASONS TO UPGRADE GP TO THE CLOUD:

1) Capital outlay versus Operating Expense – When considering a purchase of hardware there are some fixed costs and this potentially can be capitalized.  However, moving to Azure or hosting provider is a monthly hosting fee which is operating expense.   This might be beneficial depending on financial arrangements  like bank debt requirements or tax benefits of being able to expense the hosting fees.

2) Aging Servers and server migrations – With aging servers and support ending on some operating systems, customers need to make a decision whether to buy new servers or to go to the cloud.  Azure and other hosting options are available and there are monthly hosting fees. When you are migrating to a new server or Azure, it’s a great time to do the upgrade as you will have less costs overall to do both at the same time.

3) System Requirements for GP 2013 and higher versions –  The system requirements to upgrade must be considered when planning your upgrade.   With Microsoft ending main stream support for GP 2013 in April 2018.  That means that there will be no more  year end updates available after April 2018, and there is limited support from Microsoft for this version.  If this applies to you, this is a good time plan to upgrade your GP software and servers.

4) Ransomware or system attacks – Some customers believe that their systems are more secure keeping them on their premise.  However, we are still seeing customers with system downtime due to ransomware or other cyber attacks.  Recently, one customer had a ransomware infect their environment and were unable to get their GP data. They did not have a good backup, so they re-implemented GP and had to start from scratch which can cost a lot of money and inconvenience.  It’s difficult for most smaller IT teams to keep on top of security and prevent these attacks.

5) Disaster recovery planning – Imagine a natural disaster and your business systems are down due to flooding, fires or other disaster situations.  Another client in Houston, Texas recently had us help them move their GP system to Azure when the Hurricane Harvey storm was bearing down on the city.   We were able to move their entire GP System and on Monday morning they were able to work remotely, even though their plant and offices were under threat of flooding.  Their Azure install kept them running their business even when their on premise servers were unable to stay up with power and internet outages.  What are your disaster recovery plans if your system was down and unable to keep running?

6) Backup data to the cloud – You would think most modern companies have a good backup system to an offsite location.  However, we are seeing more and more that companies think they have a backup somewhere in house, only to find out that they do not have a recent backup.   Having services to backup your data to Azure or offsite is critical when you need that backup.

7) Web Client available in GP – Some customers want to take advantage of the web client in GP for full users and for employee self-service users.  The web client can be another way to keep your users able to access the system with just a web browser.  Occasional users or employees that need to access their payroll information can use the self-service features.   There is also Purchase Requisitions and workflow to enable users to interact without having to install GP on their computer or laptop.

8) Outsourcing your IT –  Many clients are challenged with keeping up with these system changes and don’t have a large IT team or dedicated resources to manage systems.  While moving to a cloud environment, you can add additional services to manage the systems and provide additional value so that your IT team can be focused on other strategic initiatives.

What is the current version and when is next major release?

GP 2016 R2 is the current release and will enjoy main stream support until 2021.  GP 2018 will be available in December 2017 and does require SQL 2014 or SQL 2016, so check the system requirements when planning your upgrade.

There are many reasons to upgrade your system to the cloud and our experienced team is waiting to help you plan your upgrade to the cloud. Contact us today to find out about your upgrade path!

How IoT can build additional revenue streams for discrete manufacturers

If you speak to any discrete manufacturer, they will tell you that it’s getting even tougher to stand out to prospects and even their own customers with traditional product/service offerings.

While there are many ways to differentiate – with innovation sitting firmly at the heart – it’s a challenge with the pace that many manufacturers are working at just to keep up with their orders.

As one innovation leads to another, we find ourselves in a time of the Internet of Things, machine learning and advanced analytics where opportunities for continued innovation and development are better than ever.

IoT for discrete manufacturing

The advancement in sensors, devices, connectivity, machines and data insights have created a powerful combination that can unlock business value, drive innovation and take discrete manufacturing business to greater heights than ever before.

With the Internet of Things, discrete manufacturers have the ability to innovate in all areas of business, from the factory floor, through the supply and demand chain to product development and after sale service.

Manufacturers capitalizing on IoT benefits

Kuka Systems Group is a great example of a manufacturer who took advantage of the Internet of Things, creating a highly automated plant that connects as many as 60,000 devices and robots to a central data-management system.

With a streamlined management environment, the system is able to adapt quickly to changes in production requirements, and powerful new access to data allows KUKA to drive actionable insights into factory operations.

“We ship our customer a complete car body every 77 seconds,” explained Jake Ladouceur, managing director, KUKA Systems Group Toledo facility. “We don’t have time to adjust source code, and we can’t introduce something that isn’t trusted and proven. Our intelligent system built with Microsoft technology enables us to react very quickly.”

Opportunities for revenue growth

In addition to the key areas mentioned above where IoT can unlock value, it also has the ability to transform business models, providing new opportunities for revenue growth.

Today, selling a product to a customer is just the beginning of an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship when a robust after-sale subscription based service program – using the Internet of Things – is established.

By harnessing the capabilities of IoT, you are differentiating, and delivering greater value to your customers by using data that helps you to understand maintenance requirements, new product opportunities and product improvement needs.

Becoming a consulting manufacturer

As a discrete manufacturer, you’re not typically seen as a consultant, but when you understand your customers patterns and needs, and you have access to data, you can help them to improve their processes and operations.

Using a software-licensing model, you can easily offer product enhancements through software updates and charge for the enhanced functionality based on a software maintenance and updates.

There are opportunities to charge for new levels of software support while simultaneously delivering a better customer experience too. As software allows for flexible product configurations, you can quickly, easily, and inexpensively package and price their devices to uniquely address new, emerging, or niche markets that would previously have been impractical or prohibitive due to costs.

The benefits of IoT

The benefits of using the Internet of Things in discrete manufacturing doesn’t just stop at building additional or alternative revenue streams. Further benefits of IoT include:

  • Reducing manufacturing and distribution costs
  • Product life extension
  • Maximizing the use of manufacturing assets
  • Increased customer loyalty and satisfaction
  • Improving time-to-market

The discrete manufacturing series

Our series focuses on five common problems discrete manufacturers are currently facing, and how to solve them, including case study examples of where discrete manufacturers have implemented our solutions and seen success. The full series includes tip sheets – available for download – on:

Convergence 2013

The first day back in the office after an exciting week in New Orleans for Microsoft’s Convergence 2013, was a long one. Tridea’s Sales and Marketing team took the 1,800 mile trip from Solana Beach to the Big Easy to participate in Microsoft’s largest Convergence conference yet. The experience was filled with client meetings, Microsoft Dynamics product sessions, a large expo hall, and lots of networking. New Orleans did a great job hosting the 11,500 attendees; even lending Convergence its Audubon Aquarium for the closing ceremony. From the New Orleans renowned seafood gumbo to closing keynote speaker Kofi Annan, Convergence proved to be nothing less than spectacular.

Convergence 2013
Andy Collins, Emily Norausky, Brent Garduno