You might have heard the rumors over the past couple months that Microsoft was working on something big for manufacturers. Microsoft has kept a keen eye this last year on the hardships manufacturers faced caused by the disruption from the pandemic and has introduced a Cloud for Manufacturing to help manufacturers continually adapt, but what is it?
When I first saw this I had many questions and began reading the articles Microsoft released to help answer them. I'm happy to report that most of the questions I started with were answered, but just like any other time I begin to conduct some research I end up having more questions when I'm finished. For now, I'd like to share with you the answers to the 3 questions I started with and sometime later on in life, I'll most likely create a Part Deux and share the answers to the more recent questions.
What is Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing?
First, I think I need to circle back and remind everyone that the Microsoft Azure Cloud is made up multiple clouds. I sort of look at it like Azure being the parent company to other Microsoft Cloud companies. Once I understood this I was really able to grasp the ideas of industry specific clouds.
According to Microsoft, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing is designed to deliver capabilities that support the core processes and requirements of the industry. What does this mean? This means that Microsoft has taken industry specific requirements and aligned them with the cloud for manufacturing to allow manufacturers a quick and easy starting point. Çağlayan Arkan wrote, "Microsoft Industry Clouds provide an on-ramp to the broader portfolio of Microsoft cloud services because they enable customers to begin with the areas where the need for technology or business transformation is most urgent."
As I'm writing this post I have yet to experience the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing first-hand, but based on what I've read and the faint whispers I've heard, I'm assuming that you'll ultimately have to spend less time and less money working with your Microsoft partner to enable all of these manufacturing specific requirements because they're already configured within the cloud.
Here's a brief overview video of what the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing is.
Does the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing replace Business Central?
No it does not. At first I wasn't sure if Microsoft was introducing an entirely new ERP solution to go along with their new cloud offering but as I dove deeper into the articles it seems as if Dynamics 365 Business Central is one the software that is compatible. Here's a screen shot from the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing webpage which I presume is all the compatible products:
Should you be using the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing?
Unfortunately I am unable to give you a yes or no answer because it really depends on your current setup. That being said, from all things I've read it seems that if you are a "smart" manufacturer and have certain manufacturing industry specific requirements that align with this cloud's offering, I would absolutely talk with a Microsoft partner to find out more information and whether or not your organization will benefit from making the switch.
There you have it. I hope that I was able to answer a couple questions you might have had and I also hope that I did not create more questions that you need answers to.