Skip to main content Skip to footer


Cloud-based Manufacturing Analytics: 4 Keys to Success


September 8, 2022

In part one of this two-part essay, we discussed how cloud-based analytics solutions can help high tech manufacturers dramatically improve production performance. In our experience, this can include boosting asset utilization by 5% to 15% and yield by 15% to 25%; improving worker productivity by 30% to 40%; and reducing inventory holding costs by 20% to 30% and time to market by 30% to 50%. We also explored some of the barriers that are preventing many manufacturers from using cloud-based analytics more extensively to achieve these benefits.

In part two of the series, we talk about how high tech manufacturers can overcome these barriers and capitalize on these powerful tools. While many factors can influence success, we have found that at a high level, four things are key.

Leadership buy-in

As is the case with any major change effort, the foundation of successfully embracing cloud-based analytics is a commitment from key leaders to see the journey through. Leaders need to understand what is at stake and the ROI the initiative will generate—i.e., they need to be fully behind the business case for change. They also must provide multi-year financial support for it and, crucially, foster cross-organization alignment on how the solution will improve manufacturing performance. The value analytics generates is necessarily limited by how far it can scale, so the entire organization must be “all in.”

Strategy and prioritization

It’s not enough to simply deploy a new analytics solution without a real game plan for using it. Doing so will guarantee the solution will fall far short of the impact a company is hoping to get. That is why setting out a strategy for rollout is so important. Out of the potential hundreds of high tech use cases for the solution, a manufacturer should initially focus on those where analytics can provide the greatest value in terms of financial and strategic impact. At the same time, the company should develop a longer-term road map that also identifies visionary opportunities and potential new business models cloud-based analytics can make possible.

A number of frameworks are available that can help companies evaluate manufacturing use cases on various dimensions to find the highest-value ones that could benefit from moving to the cloud.

Technology blueprint

Most manufacturers have a technology architecture. But in many cases, especially among large high tech enterprises, this architecture is disparate and disconnected and there’s no structured data flow across them. This makes it difficult to access the data necessary for analytics to flourish. Thus, manufacturers need to identify technology support and changes to the current architecture that are necessary to enable data to flow seamlessly and securely to the analytics solution in the cloud from the various systems in which it resides.

As part of this effort, manufacturers have to consider the uses cases for analytics and where the associated workloads need to be—i.e., at the edge or in the cloud. For instance, edge analytics drive real-time actions and are event-driven to catch inefficiency and quality issues close to the site as they occur. Edge analytics are critical to supporting quick responses so quality improvement efforts do not impede performance. On the other hand, cloud analytics identifies higher-level trends (and causality) using data from other systems to predict what is likely to happen (e.g., when a machine might fail) and prescribe the right actions to take.

It’s also key to think about the hardware and connectivity required for both immediate and future use cases to ensure analytics can continue to scale and generate even more value.

And, of course, security is critical, and here the cloud has a big advantage. Research and our client experience confirm that the cloud is inherently more secure that most companies’ in-house data centers, offering far greater protection of data than on-premise solutions. Plus, if a security event does hit, a cloud provider can resolve the issue far more quickly, effectively, and less expensively than a company could do with its own system. In other words, security concerns should no longer be a barrier to the use of cloud-based analytics.

Employee adoption

According to Accenture research, a full two-thirds of transformation efforts which move to cloud-based analytics is sure to fail. And they fail because the new solution either isn’t embraced by the people who need to use it or isn’t used appropriately or effectively by those workers. This is an especially big challenge on the shop floor, which is home to long-tenured workers who are steeped in traditional ways of working and can be reluctant to change.

One of the keys to getting buy-in among this crucial workforce is to engage them in the journey from the very beginning. Communicating with them early and often and enabling them to contribute to the shaping of the solution and the analytics work process, is a great way to build enthusiasm for the new tool and way of working. When paired with traditional change management and training activities, early engagement has been proven to foster faster adoption and, ultimately, higher ROI.

Another critical success factor is ensuring that new technology is backed with applicable process changes and associated training. Workers need to understand not just the technology itself, but how the technology changes the way they work and, subsequently, how they can use the technology to generate new, more powerful, business outcomes.

When paired with traditional change management and training activities, early engagement has been proven to foster faster adoption of analytics and, ultimately, higher ROI.

It's time for high tech manufacturing analytics in the cloud to shine

The advent of big data and cloud-based analytics has enabled organizations to gain actionable insights from a vast amount of information quickly and efficiently. Yet, although we see widespread investment in cloud and cloud-based data and analytics in functional areas such as finance and human resources, manufacturing and operations are a step behind. And, as a result, they’re missing out on significant benefits. Manufacturing leaders need to move beyond their lingering apprehension to invest in the cloud and cloud-based capabilities—so they can more effectively address systemic inefficiencies and preemptively discover and resolve challenges that are preventing stronger operational and financial performance.

The cloud today provides the surest, most powerful, and most cost effective route to building high tech manufacturing operations that can “deliver the goods” for customers and help drive more profitable growth—even, and especially, in times of disruption.


Harmandeep Ahuja

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Technology Strategy & Advisory