Global manufacturing companies say they have realized good results by adopting cloud applications, and they plan to accelerate cloud use dramatically by 2017 — especially in their manufacturing, engineering and operations groups. Some of the biggest benefits have come from lower IT costs, higher employee productivity, better data visibility, and gains in process automation. These are just a few of the findings of a recent survey conducted in conjunction with the Manufacturing ISV Cloud Summit, held this spring.

Perhaps the study's most intriguing implication is that as these companies move their operations, engineering and manufacturing to the cloud, platforms originally developed for sales and marketing-such as Salesforce-may become the backbone of all enterprise software.

During the Manufacturing ISV Cloud Summit-sponsored by Salesforce, Propel, Rootstock, ICIX and Tavant Technologies-manufacturing professionals were asked how enterprise cloud apps like Salesforce, Workday and NetSuite were being used in their manufacturing businesses.

"While sales and marketing teams have been using the cloud for years, the survey indicates that engineers now feel that it's their time to start enjoying what the cloud can do for them," says Miguel Tam, VP of Marketing at Propel. "With world-class cloud platforms like Salesforce, manufacturing companies don't have to worry about data security or reliability. Enterprise engineering solutions like Propel, which is built 100% on the Salesforce platform, make it possible for manufacturers to collaborate much more closely with customers, partners and employees, so they can deliver great products."

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Manufacturing companies have reaped big rewards and lower costs from their early internal cloud adoption: Over 60% of respondents said cloud apps have helped them realize internally focused benefits. Higher employee productivity, process automation, data visibility and lower IT costs ranked as the top cloud benefits.
  • The shift to cloud solutions will accelerate quickly: Eighty percent of operations departments, 70% of engineering groups and 59% of manufacturing departments expect to grow their use of enterprise cloud apps dramatically by 2017.
  • Surprisingly, IT decision-makers in manufacturing, operations and engineering have been more cautious than their marketing and sales counterparts in adopting cloud platforms: Only 19% of manufacturing, 20% of operations and 25% of engineering departments are currently using enterprise cloud apps.

"Adopting cloud technologies across departments makes it much easier to realize the full benefits of the cloud," says Rajendran Nair, VP of Marketing at Rootstock Software. "Just as Marketing needs to know what happened to the leads it passed, Sales needs to know what happened after they closed deals and Operations needs to know what's coming down the pipeline. Companies need a unified cloud platform that spans the spectrum of their internal and external operations and allows data and processes to span multiple solutions that are on this platform. We believe Salesforce and its large network of partners such as Rootstock, Propel and ICIX provide an unmatched ecosystem that will deliver on the true potential of the cloud."

To view the "Manufacturing: On the Cloud Frontier" infographic summary, visit the website.