Cloud computing is dominating the tech news, and is also cropping up in the manufacturing sector news. It is the concept of hosting services via the internet. The cloud is essentially the internet, a metaphor. Cloud computing allows companies to maintain fast, efficient systems without the infrastructure costs needed to house the servers, and staff that goes along with it. In manufacturing, there may another benefit of cloud computing—bridging the gap between customer care and engineering.
Links in the Cloud
Sharing information is made much easier with the cloud. In addition to secure information storage, the companies can also share information at real-time speeds. Documents can be edited, formatted and collaborations worked without being in the same room as the other users. This virtual link can make the engineering experts within the company available to the customer care specialist as needed.
Consider this, a customer calls into manufacturer about a product complication that has not been observed in testing. None of the materials prepared by the engineers and researchers covers the problem and the customer care specialist cannot find a tech support specialist that can help. What do you do? If the product is under warranty, the company will likely spring for postage to have the product shipped to the factory. There, it can be examined and fixed, then shipped back to the customer. Such a lengthy process may be interrupted if the customer care specialist could speak with the engineering department directly.
In the cloud, the customer care specialist on the phone with the customer could have the engineer online with a couple of clicks, without placing the customer on hold. Together they could solve the problem in sort of a three-way call that gives the customer a much superior service than before. The product may still need a trip to the repair shop, but problem is known before it reaches the factory, further cutting the time that the customer is inconvenienced.
One concern about cloud computing is the security for the information stored by each user. The service used can be private, accessed only by the people authorized to do so. It is like a town of businesses. Some of them are public, like the library, but others are private like the restaurants that you must pay to use. Each business carves out its own space in the cloud without worrying about security.
Manufacturing companies do not need to be afraid of the cloud. Actually, many businesses in the manufacturing sector already benefit from accessing the cloud for not only their customer based services, but also their in-house operations. Before that next software and tech upgrade, explore the possibilities that cloud computing presents.