The Development Of Cloud Technology: Past, Present and Future
By: Aimee Claire
CEOs and other corporate executives have long been aware, that the amount of money their companies spend on IT systems and software licenses is phenomenal and that costs are set to grow. As a result many companies have now started to use the Cloud and are finding that there are considerable cost savings to be made, particularly in respect of Enterprise Resource Planning.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was originally introduced in 1990 and rapidly gained popularity as numerous companies realized the gains that could be made in terms of increased efficiency by synchronizing all departmental processes across a single database. The benefits of ERP include the ability for an executive to be able to analyze departmental productivity and it also provides managers with the tools to make accurate projections based on this information. The drawback is that ERP requires extensive IT investment and many smaller companies came to the conclusion that the cost of installing and maintaining the system was too high.
With the growing realization of the importance of ERP many companies have started to look at alternative (cheaper) methods of accessing the software. Cloud technology is one solution that is of great interest to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially as many of their traditional in-house functions may already have been migrated to this solution. One of the major benefits behind this change is flat fee subscription; in addition, the ERP software is much faster to set up, which substantially reduces corporate IT costs. Instead of a company having to purchase multiple items of hardware and software, all the necessary technology can be accessed through the cloud.
Computer analyst, Nigel Rayner, of Gartner, the company that first coined the expression ERP, recently said: “The cloud will completely disrupt the ERP market… the world is moving to the cloud and it will be the most important factor in the development of ERP over the next 10 years or more.” Online ERP isn’t going to happen overnight, however. It is more likely that companies will incorporate a hybrid system, with some functions being retained in-house while others will be migrated to the cloud. While this will immediately reduce the costs associated with employing a large IT department, companies should understand that they may well need to employ IT specialists with a different skill set. A further benefit of cloud technology is that it allows greater flexibility; a company will be able to choose which elements of ERP are most suitable for its purposes. The idea of a flat fee subscription is also appealing to many businesses; the licenses have the added benefit of allowing multi-user access.
Any company that is thinking of implementing cloud based ERP technology is advised to carry out as much research as possible before deciding whether in-house ERP, software as a service (SaaS) or a cloud application is most suitable for their specific requirements. The cost of maintaining a site-based system can be enormous, but if a company’s Internet access is unreliable moving to the cloud might prove impossible. Too many companies already experience Internet problems at 9am on a Monday morning when the rest of the corporate world logs on to the net.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.