Becoming Modern: Manufacturing to SaaS and IoT

Many companies are transitioning from one brand to another, or, in some cases, adding an additional layer to their traditional tried-and-true product. After MySpace lost traction to Facebook in the mid-2000s, it transformed into a social network for musicians and bands. Lego went from building toy blocks to being an entertainment monster of toys, video games, TV shows, and movies. Blackberry, after falling behind in the constant battle of mobile devices, is dipping its toes into the waters of IoT. Sony has become a movie production studio. And Amazon has added a branch that’s devoted to cloud computing services (Amazon Web Services).  The list goes on.

Failure sometimes necessitates the need for change. Other times, it’s just the smart thing to do.

From software boxes to SaaS

Remember CD-Rom? Seems like forever ago that you’d go to Best Buy or Circuit City to get the latest software product: Pick up the box at the store, then take it home and load it on your computer. Oh the memories!

But things have obviously changed. Now, software is typically cloud-based: You buy it online, paying smaller monthly or yearly subscription fees, download it, and get updates whenever they’re available. You always have the latest version and you can cancel the subscription if it’s no longer necessary.

The same is true for computing, data analytics, and real-time information. Technology has advanced, and is now cheap enough for companies to deploy massive device strategies to receive real-time data on their products and services.

Because of cloud computing, you can monitor anything using an array of devices. You can get data, and lots of it, to better understand anything about anything. Cloud computing and device technology have opened new revenue streams, creating a new industry, and tempting companies to step in a new direction.

The transformation of NCR

Enter NCR, a services and manufacturing B2B company that specializes in retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, gaming and public sector organizations (i.e. POS systems, ATMs, etc.).  NCR has moved from focusing on manufacturing to SaaS, as a recent Forbes article discusses. That is a major shift.

The reason, according to their CIO Bill VanCuren? “Software is enabling the next generation of productivity gains for consumers and business alike. Software and Hardware combined creates a solution that requires a robust services organization in order to obtain the maximum value and availability.” In other words, they almost need to make this shift, if they don’t want to lose out. NCR is smart – very smart – because if you look around, SaaS (software-as-a-service) is everywhere. Salesforce and AWS are two giants paving the way and making it necessary: It’s profitable and customers love it.

NCR is also positioning itself as a leader in the Internet of Things. The IoT is invading their space, so they’re making the appropriate transitions in order to benefit along with it. VanCuren says, “We have been using software as a service (SaaS) for some time—we have used public clouds for over five years. The SaaS applications are running in someone else’s data center, which has afforded me the learning opportunity of procuring, invoicing, and engaging teams at both the traditional shared services and leadership levels of the company. We are now focusing on hybrid cloud integration and security, which are becoming increasingly bigger issues in SaaS.”

For many companies, the winds are blowing in a new direction because of the possibilities provided by cloud computing, smart devices, embedded technology, and real-time analytics. Wise companies are making appropriate transitions. We’ll see what happens to those who don’t.

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