We connected with Diego Tamburini, Principal Industry Lead for Microsoft Azure, for a question and answer session. Diego had some very interesting points and tips for using Azure. Take a look at our conversation below.
Microsoft Azure seems to have so many things to offer. Can you give us a brief summary of their continuous contributions to manufacturing and the digital transformation?
Diego Tamburini: Generally speaking, Azure is a cloud platform that provides the basic building blocks necessary to develop and run software solutions - things like compute, storage, networking, security, messaging, and DevOps. In addition to these basic services, Azure offers services such as IoT, Edge Computing, AI and Machine Learning, Blockchain, and Mixed Reality that are particularly important for Manufacturing. Software developers can leverage these services and concentrate on what they do best – apply their industry expertise on developing manufacturing solutions.
Besides providing the cloud platform on top of which software vendors can develop manufacturing solutions, Microsoft partners closely with software vendors in manufacturing to jointly bring solutions to market and enable our joint customers realize their digital transformation initiatives.
Finally, when software runs on the cloud, customers don’t have to worry about maintaining the IT infrastructure necessary to deploy and run their solutions. This significantly reduces their risk and costs, allowing medium and small companies to access solutions that may not have been available to them in the pre-cloud era.
In your latest blog post, you state; “Intelligent manufacturing transformation can bring great changes, such as connecting the sales organization with field services.” For many emerging and small businesses, the need and benefit of these connections may seem unimportant. Can you help us explain why they are important and how Smart Manufacturing Experience will help them?
Diego Tamburini: The benefits of digital transformation and smart manufacturing are not exclusive to large enterprises. On the contrary, I would argue that the smaller you are the smaller the cushion you have to absorb inefficiencies.
One of the main targets of any digital transformation initiative is to remove siloes of information. Information siloes cause chronic rework, defects, slow-downs, and customer dissatisfaction. And because teams are not talking to each other, these problems don’t get addressed.
Specifically, to your question, connecting the sales organizations with field services is important simply because both sides have information that can help the other side do a better job: field services know how the products are being used by the customers, what they love or hate, what’s causing problems, what the most popular configurations of their product are for various customer segments. This information is invaluable to the salespeople, who can use it to better configure a more competitive offer to their customers. Conversely, salespeople know what’s selling the most, what’s blocking sales, how they are stacking against competitors. This information could be used by field services to optimize their plans to better serve their customers.
Of course, we all know that utilizing Azure will do amazing things for any organization. What happens when companies ignore and neglect their data?
Diego Tamburini: Simply put, when companies ignore or neglect their data, they become increasingly less competitive. A few decades ago they may have gotten away with it, but currently manufacturers are on a race to squeeze as much competitive advantage as they can, and the only way to do that is by collecting, analyzing, and extracting actionable insight from data from their operations, products, and customers. No company is too small, and no product is too simple for data to not be important.