A modern enterprise network compares to a swiftly moving shoal of fish, turning fast and at the same time. In today’s rapidly changing world, a slowly turning whale always loses to a shoal behaving flexibly.
It isn’t easy to manage a shoal of fish. The shoal must turn at the same time even if one fish thinks the new direction or the moment of turning isn’t ideal. The whole network must work toward a common goal like one company, although the entity has no single commander, or the different units may have differing interests. A simultaneous turn can only be motivated by creating a joint image of the living environment.
Traditional ERP is not enough
Traditional ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems use terms like order rows or forecast rows, which, however, are unable to see far into the future. When dealing with the customer interface that is common to the entire network and needing to react to a multitude of signals, you also need free-form information. Formalised data is not enough to envision a common future.
Free-form data means speech, email messages, notes scribbled in the margins of a document, a yellow sticky note or a snapshot of a flip board made with a mobile phone. Even this information must be made simultaneously available to multiple companies. It is not enough that part of such important information only cumulates in the email inboxes of its recipients.
Information in a networked company has to be common
Information on the network’s common customer interface and events on it must be made to transform into the network’s development. Changes concerning joint customers must quickly be transformed into an understanding of what the change will mean to one individual company or business unit in the network.
Networks also challenge the flexibility of information systems by their adaptability. In a shoal, fish come and go, and the shoal will not disintegrate if some of its members change. Companies must be able to quickly enter and exit the network, while one company may simultaneously be a member of several networks. What does the company’s internal world look like then? IT systems cannot have different branches for different networks. These issues have to be dealt with between the networked companies, not inside one company.
Look into the future of manufacturing operations
Roima’s solution has featured several ways of including and distributing free-form information. In networks, managed use of company information is a crucial issue. It is also easier to run the operation through the common system than using email.
When talking about operational development, the biggest benefit is achieved most quickly when change management can be improved. The focus of collaboration must be moved farther into the future, and common tools be built that help identify what is sensible and profitable to do in the long term.
Common information management systems for future networks
Today’s ERP systems cannot entirely meet the needs of planning in networks. To complement ERP, an application common to the whole network is needed that is used at least by the companies at the core of the network. Our vision extends that far, that is, to common systems for future networks.
Flexibility of the manufacturing network is key to future success
Networked operation will in future be vitally important to manufacturing companies. The competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in many cases hinges on flexibility, which is used to hunt suitable prey from the outskirts of volume markets. That is why we need to work like a fast-moving shoal of fish, develop new operational models and flexible services to support them.