The cloud is driving an Australian manufacturing revolution – by Greg O’Loan


The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated many Australian manufacturers’ plans to digitise, writes Greg O’Loan. Here he discusses where our predominantly SME manufacturers should focus.

Last month, we saw significant cybersecurity breaches across both the Australian Government and Channel 9. But manufacturers are also at risk, in fact globally the number of publicly recorded ransomware attacks against manufacturing has tripled in the last year alone according to cybersecurity company Dragos.

Only this month, Assistant Defense Minister Andrew Hastie warned Australian businesses were now at high risk of having their operations disrupted and data stolen amid a wave of malicious state-sponsored and criminal cyberattacks targeting hospitals, parliaments, and companies.

A big concern for the manufacturers we speak with is ensuring the security of their IP, which has involved years of blood sweat and tears to bring to market.

Cloud gives businesses both security and reliability

Speeding up recovery

But security is just one perk of the cloud. COVID-19 has of course significantly disrupted the manufacturing and supply chain industry, deeply challenging our local Australian landscape. In today’s new now, government and manufacturing industry bodies are all pointing out the importance of the manufacturing industry in Australia’s economic recovery.

A key pillar of this is leaning on smart technology to modernising business. The challenge for many manufacturers is to move beyond talk and to turn that rhetoric into action by taking full advantage of things like Industry 4.0; prioritising investments in technologies like automation, connected sensors and IoT; as well Artificial Intelligence and other data-driven technologies to tap into this massive opportunity.

COVID-19 has no doubt played a big part in a recent acceleration of interest in the cloud, with the need for connected premises and a mobile workforce never more evident than throughout 2020. But I feel there are more factors at play.

I do find that the myth that the cloud is less secure than on-premise is still rampant and that’s a real concern if we are to modernise the sector and move forward.

One solution to that problem is that we need to get better about celebrating Australian modern manufacturing wins like Ellume who are collaborating with Bosh at their facility in Brisbane to bring their rapid-flu test to market.

Such collaboration would be impossible without Industry 4.0 and we need more manufacturers committing to this investment to help drive our country’s economic recovery.

Future-proofing your business for years to come

Many companies rushed to digitise as a result of COVID-19 and fast-tracked digital projects that initially were planned to be delivered over several months or years.

2021 will be the year of consolidation, and identification of digital gaps or weaknesses that need to be filled to ensure that businesses are future-proofed for the years to come.

With so many technologies available, and so many different digital challenges to answer, it is important organisations prioritise their investments.

Areas such as mobility and cloud are of course of utmost importance as they will be key in sustaining that flexibility and scalability-based model.

Cloud-based technology sets manufacturers up for growth by creating architecture that is more accessible and data that is more widely available to distribute information quickly.

Speed will enable manufacturers to respond efficiently to customer requirements and to bring their products to market faster or even geographical expansion.

Everything is on the table when manufacturers take the time to focus on their future plans. The first step is to evaluate your business and update your vision and mission for the future.

Greg O’Loan is an experienced executive in information technology specialising in software as a service and the cloud. He is Regional Vice President, ANZ for Epicor Software.

Picture: Greg O’Loan

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