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Supply Chain Issues Cost UK Tech Firms Dearly

Supply Chain Issues Cost UK Tech Firms Dearly

Although tech giant Apple may have a superb supply chain to thank for much of their continuing success, a recent report by insurance provider Zurich suggests that medium-sized UK tech companies are not so fortunate. In the document, entitled ‘Weakest Link: UK Plc’s Supply Chain’, analysts reported that 88% of the 500 businesses surveyed had experienced at least one significant and costly disruption to their supply chain.

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Posted on August 15, 2012 in Celtrino Platform, Cloud Computing, Supply Chain by
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Celtrino’s Cloud has a Silver Lining

“Celtrino is growing, we need to be more scalable, we need to be in the cloud.”

That was the simple directive I received from our CEO over two years ago. At the time, my initial instinct was to advise him that we were already in the cloud, in “our cloud”, and after 10 years of optimising and fine tuning “our cloud” and our resources and processes we were really firing on all cylinders now, so thank you very much Windows Azure, but maybe we’ll pass for now. But I didn’t, mainly because despite the success of our own private cloud platform, I agreed with his vision.  Cloud computing was like a snowball that had been pushed down a hill, still small at that stage but growing in size and velocity and it was on a crash course for IT services. As Head of IT, the allure of having the ability to scale our IT platform without having to consider the logistics of rack space, or power units, or hardware contingency planning and having on-demand access to IT system resources via state of the art, internationally accredited data centres was simply irresistible.

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Posted on July 11, 2012 in Celtrino Express, Celtrino Platform, Cloud Computing, eBilling, Windows Azure by
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Celtrino Achieves a Microsoft Silver Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Competency

Celtrino earns distinction through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment.

DUBLIN, Ireland — June, 19th, 2012 Celtrino today announced it has achieved a Silver ISV competency, demonstrating its ability to meet Microsoft Corp. customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment. To earn a Microsoft silver competency, partners must successfully demonstrate expertise through rigorous exams, culminating in Microsoft certifications. And to ensure the highest quality of services, Microsoft requires customer references for successful implementation and customer satisfaction.

Microsoft Partner Silver Competency

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Posted on June 19, 2012 in Announcements, Celtrino Express, Cloud Computing, Windows Azure by
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Irish Government Confirms Commitment to Cloud Computing Development with €1.2 Million Research Fund

Irish Government Confirms Commitment to Cloud Computing Development with €1.2 Million Research Fund

The Irish Government has announced details of a €1.2 Million research programme designed to encourage investment into cloud computing. Headed up by Dublin City University, the Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre hopes to increase Ireland’s profile as a home for cutting edge developments in the field of outsourced computing. The fund is part of the wider ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ being implemented as part of Ireland’s economic recovery plan.

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Posted on May 4, 2012 in B2B Platform in the Cloud, Cloud Computing, G-Cloud, Government Cloud, Innovations, Research by
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Supply Chain Efficiency Benefits Ignored According to Survey

Supply Chain Efficiency Benefits IgnoredThe 2011 edition of the annual Engineering & Manufacturing Supply Chain Survey has been published this week based on the responses of 120 UK-based senior supply chain managers and makes for interesting reading.

Over one-fifth (22%) of respondents admitted that their procurement and sourcing procedures and mechanisms required improvement. By improving the inbound purchasing system, this group of supply chain managers believed that their businesses could recognise a number of efficiencies and cost savings not available in their current methodologies.

Perhaps the most surprising finding of the Supply Chain Survey was that only 54% of the managers surveyed were convinced that improving their supply chain would also help improve their business’ balance sheets. For many years supply chain management experts have been advising companies on creating efficiencies for improved return on investment but the message appears to have been ignored by many in-house managers despite many success stories across most industry sectors.

Ian King, business director of engineering and manufacturing at DHL who commissioned the report believes that although most respondents believed their supply chains could be improved, supply chain improvements extend beyond cost reductions. Commenting on the results of the survey King said, “it seems that one area they [those questioned] might be overlooking is the impact that improving supply chain efficiency can have on their supply chain.”

At a time when the costs of raw materials are rising steadily and resources are becoming more scarce, businesses need to focus on the costs that they can control. Although the prices a supplier charges cannot be fully controlled, the way in which products are sourced, inventoried, assembled, catalogued or warehoused can, and any costs reduced through introducing efficiencies equate to a direct positive effect on the balance sheet.

2012 is currently being promoted as the year of the cloud, where hosted supply chain management systems have reached the level of maturity and stability required to become a ‘game changer’. For the 54% of supply chain managers who believe efficiencies improve their business’ profitability, now might be the time to investigate such platforms and recognise those savings.


Posted on March 5, 2012 in Cloud Computing, eProcurement, Supply Chain Management, Survey by
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e-Invoicing Up 20% Globally According to New Report

A new study commissioned by e-Invoicing provider Basware in conjunction with consultancy Billentis has found that the use of electronic invoices for B2B transactions rose by 20% during 2011. The report found that although many businesses elected to implement e-Invoicing for their own benefit, legislative changes in several countries also had a large part to play in the increased rates of adoption.

e-Invoicing Up 20% Globally

Mexico led the way with legislative changes, mandating that any business trading over a certain threshold must exchange electronic invoices – an approach set to be adopted by Greece, Spain, Norway and Kazakhstan during 2012. The Scandinavian countries, the Benelux union and German also introduced legislation designed to encourage the uptake of e-Invoicing, although most adoption throughout these states was as a result of businesses identifying their own economic benefits for doing so. Finland went one step further by insisting businesses submit invoices to state bodies electronically.

The study also found that the legal status of electronic invoices still varies between countries. In Japan and China, although electronic invoices can be exchanged, they are regarded legally as a copy requiring a paper invoice to be raised for regulatory purposes. Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia however grant electronic invoices the same legal status as a paper version.

Commenting on the results of the report, Karri Lehtonen, Vice President of Basware said, ‘Legislation regarding financial records varies between regions. Paper based invoicing requires a business to understand these legal variants to trade globally. e-Invoicing technology removes this headache as it automates compliance with countries’ different legal requirements.’

Further to Lehtonen’s observations, the use of an outsourced global platform for electronic invoicing has the potential to transcend diverse national legislation allowing businesses to focus on their customer’s requirements, without constructing complex EDI systems to cross borders. As more countries make e-Invoicing mandatory, the process will become more complex for businesses operating in multiple markets; a cloud-based platform such as Celtrino’s Smart Admin reduces the technical and regulatory burden on a business whilst allowing them to trade anywhere and everywhere.


Posted on February 24, 2012 in Cloud Computing, e-Invoicing, EDI, Report, Smart Admin by
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Two Supply Chain Management Predictions for 2012

As seems to have been the case every year for the past half decade, 2012 is predicted to be the year that cloud computing finally takes off.  Analysts believe that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has finally reached the requisite level of maturity to ensure that manufacturers will finally be able to outsource many of their ERP functions.

Supply Chain Management Predictions for 2012

SaaS providers have managed to extend the functionality of their systems to mimic and replace those available in onsite equivalent ERP platforms immediately negating many of the concerns of business decision makers. Attention to improving platform and data security has also led to increased customer confidence further helping to boost uptake.

Ray Wang, principal analyst for the Constellation Research Group reckons SaaS for manufacturers will also need to demonstrate a high degree of interoperability to facilitate integration with existing on-premise systems. By hooking directly into the existing computer systems, manufacturers can extend and expand their systems without the usual costs associated with an in-house deployment or upgrade. As a result Wang believes that SaaS will reach a natural tipping point this year leading to an explosion in uptake.

James Leibel of technical consultants Cap Gemini is also expecting to see an explosion in embedded wireless tracking throughout the supply chain. These tracking devices, such as RFID and Near Field Communications (NFC) smart tags will help manufacturers keep an accurate inventory at every point of contact with minimal manual intervention, thereby reducing the potential for human error creating stock level issues. NFC and RFID tracking does however require additional investment in hardware for tracking the tags but Ray Wang reckons “Manufacturers will be applying sensor data to anything from predictive maintenance to improved demand forecasting.”

Finally all of the analysts appear to agree that manufacturers will make “healthy” investments in technology to underpin their operations and provide future-proof capacity. Analysts have been wrong in the past, but this year their claims seem highly credible.


Posted on February 17, 2012 in Cloud Computing, ERP, SaaS, Supply Chain Management by
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Beating the Bullwhip

The Bullwhip Effect describes the problems of trying to cope with fluctuating customer demand and the need for holding an inventory to cover the changes. J Forrester observed that the further up the supply chain one goes, the greater the inventory contingency required, and the greater the costs associated.

Bullwhip

Source: Wikipedia

Theoretically beating the bullwhip is simple – all that is required is to ensure that orders match demand precisely in any given operating period. Clearly this almost impossible in reality, so instead the accurate management of safety stock levels and precise forecast calculations are essential to reduce the impact up the supply stream.

Experts suggest that moving from forecast-driven to demand-driven supply chain methodology will be more successful than statistical analysis, as goods are manufactured to order based on up-to-the-minute data directly from the retailer. Known as ‘Kanban’ within manufacturing industries, demand-driven supply chains gather sales data from the Point of Sale (POS) terminals in an organisation’ stores, allowing collection of highly accurate customer demand data which can then, according to business policies, be made available for use by any partner within the supply chain.

The genius of Kanban-based supply is that information sharing allows every link in the supply chain access to the customer demand data which can then be used to inform their internal inventory buffers. This open data dispensation actually benefits business up and down the supply chain, adding an additional layer of financial protection to each by avoiding the costs associated with an oversized safety buffer of stock.

Implementation of such a demand-driven system can be fraught with difficulties, both technical and political, but the use of externally hosted cloud services such as Celtrino’s Smart Admin platform can help address many of these. Smart Admin allows businesses to retain their own in-house systems whilst providing a data sharing interface for accessing the relevant data from their supply chain partners.


Posted on February 8, 2012 in B2B Platform in the Cloud, B2G e-invoicing, Business Process Outsourcing, Celtrino Platform, Cloud Computing, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance by
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Boeing Prove Direct Integration Is Not Everything

During late 2011, Boeing finally began shipment of their latest aircraft, the 787 ‘Dreamliner’. Three years late and massively over budget, the Dreamliner has had a troubled route to market but Boeing executives are convinced that the changes the technological and manufacturing advances made during the project, coupled with their new approach to supply chain management will reap major benefits in the future.

Prior to the Dreamliner, Boeing bought parts from suppliers before assembling the finished aircraft themselves. The 787 project however required suppliers to design and build major sections of the aircraft before delivering them to Boeing. The ultimate goal was to reduce the final assembly time by Boeing to just three days.Supply Chain Management in Boeing

To make this ambitious plan a reality, Boeing implemented a collaboration hub which would bring together all 34,000 suppliers involved with producing parts for the Dreamliner. The system allows suppliers access to real time data to ensure that every single part is assembled in the correct order and delivered on time; with a three day assembly window, timing of deliveries is critical so that everything is in place at the right time.

The centralised data system means that every member of the supply chain is immediately aware of any potential delays and can adjust their assembly and delivery schedules accordingly. As the primary buyer, Boeing are able to gain an instant overview of the entire supply chain, so that parts are only ordered as requested and helping to speed payment of invoices between suppliers.

One of the most notable aspects of Boeing’s new supply chain management platform is that it is not reliant on every supplier having the same ERP systems in place in their businesses. Instead of using a proprietary EDI format to join inventory and accounts systems, the new Boeing platform collects and retains information in the online hub.

Although Boeing’s new cloud-based supply chain management system has revolutionised the way that the business operates in terms of efficiencies and future cost savings, there remains room for improvement. Using a platform which allows for transparent data transfer between ERP systems would further reduce complexity and potential data duplication between onsite systems and Boeing’s portal. Time will tell whether Boeing’s supply chain management system undergoes such an evolution.

 


Posted on January 17, 2012 in Cloud Computing, ERP, Integrated Supply Chain Management Platform, Supply Chain Integration, Supply Chain Management by
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How flexible is your supply chain management system?

Recent events have caused many companies conducting business internationally to carefully consider and reconsider their supply chains. The extensive flooding in parts of Thailand has had a well-documented effect on the supply of hard disk drives, leading to a worldwide shortage of several devices.

Fire alarmMajor computer component manufacturer Seagate has run into problems with building new disk drives because not only was the plant responsible for assembling them flooded, so too was another supplier who built the motors for each drive. Even when the Seagate assembly plant was reopened, the motor manufacturer’s was still underwater. This dual layer of failure has encouraged other businesses to look carefully at their own risk management procedures, going two or three layers down their component suppliers to identify the potential for a similar problem in their own companies.

For those organisations which successfully complete their risk awareness surveys, identification of potential points of failure is only the start of the remedial process. Backup component suppliers need to be sourced for failover in the event of a supply chain disaster, as does the capacity for a change to the business process system which underpins it.

And herein lies another potential pitfall. An in-house maintained system could lack the flexibility required for an emergency transition or workflow alteration leading to additional delays and costs on top of those incurred by the original failure. Again the option of business process outsourcing and hosted supply chain management systems tend to offer a significant benefit over their in-house counterparts.

The cloud-based supply chain management system allows for a ‘pay-as-you-go’ approach, with subscribers paying for exactly what they need, when they need it. Additional functions or capacity can be added or removed centrally as requirements change, allowing for a highly flexible approach to potentially crippling disasters. The promise of flexibility could mean the difference between organisational survival and destruction. Can your current system meet the challenge?


Posted on January 13, 2012 in Business Process Outsourcing, Cloud Computing, Supply Chain Management by
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