Collaborative Manufacturing Technologies Assessed

Dec. 8, 2011
IDC Manufacturing Insights has released a report that looks at the five major subsets of collaborative technologies used by manufacturers to connect across their supply chains and offers advice on how to determine the best fit for your operations.

As collaboration moved from being a technology buzzword for manufacturers to a core facet of global production operations, the focus has shifted from questions about the need for manufacturers to collaborate and into how to do it most effectively.

Automation World focused on this matter in its December 2011 issue though an examination of the common roadblocks to successful collaboration. You can view that article here
Examining this issue from another angle, IDC Manufacturing Insights has issued a report (“Business Strategy: Collaboration in Manufacturing — What Does It All Mean?”) that delineates five subsets of collaboration technologies used by manufacturers and the vendors that provide them. There are multiple vendors examined in the report, with a highlight on those referred to as the  SHOMI (pronounced “show me” — SAP, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM) vendors. 
According to IDC Manufacturing Insights, the five major subsets of collaboration technologies used by manufacturers to connect across their supply chains are: 

>> Team collaborative applications, which provide structured team environments (such as workspaces with documents and task lists) to share data and content. In these applications, communication is typically asynchronous and closed to all but specific team members.

>>  Enterprise social software is focused on social network applications that allow everyone — employees, customers, partners, and suppliers — to use blogs, RSS tags, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools to have an open dialogue.

>> Email applications provide a framework for electronic messaging based on shared directory messaging platforms and access protocols for use by enterprises. Not surprisingly, IDC Manufacturing Insights notes that this is typically one of the largest of the collaborative application markets.

>> Instant communication applications for collaborative manufacturing marks the evolution of stand-alone enterprise instant messaging (IM) and presence capabilities into a more sophisticated environment for messaging and collaboration, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights.

>> Conferencing applications provide a real-time connection for the viewing, exchange, or creation of content and information by two or more users in a scheduled or ad hoc online meeting or event.

IDC Manufacturing Insights says that, though these five subsets cover most of the ways in which a manufacturing organization can address collaboration, the market for these applications is “constantly evolving and there is a definite overlap” across technologies, “particularly as the SHOMI vendors expand offerings to compete more effectively in the overall collaborative applications market.”
To make sense of the overlapping technology offerings and select the best application for your operations, the report says it is key for manufacturers to understand which collaboration tools will help get the job done better and faster by improving the following factors:
  • The capability to view and share information as well as act on data in real time;
  • Handle communication across an increasingly complex supply chain; and 
  • Provide the ability to store, share, and reuse data for a continually changing workforce.
For more information about this report follow this link to: “Business Strategy: Collaboration in Manufacturing — What Does It All Mean?”
About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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