As many manufacturers dont have large IT departments, employing each of SMACs four components is a good way to propel production toward growth and increased efficiency. The four components are: Social, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud.

What is SMAC stack?

Len Calderone for | ManufacturingTomorrow

SMAC stack is the concept that makes use of social interactions, mobility, analytics driven by big data and cloud technology to simplify the customer experience while boosting productivity.

As many manufacturers don’t have large IT departments, employing each of SMAC’s four components is a good way to propel production toward growth and increased efficiency. The four components are: Social, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud.

Properly making use of these innovations not only improves company operations, but also prepares the manufacturing team for future manufacturing trends that have yet to come into realization.

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Social media has opened the door for manufacturers to connect with each other around the world. Social media is providing manufacturers with new ways to reach and interact with customers, while mobile technologies have changed the way people communicate, shop and work. SMAC isn’t about checking in with friends on Facebook; it’s about the exchange of information to improve a manufacturer's products and services. These information resources are the starting point where shared ideas can turn into improvements that can be applied to practical applications.

Contacting customers is no longer about writing letters, sending emails or using print media. It is now about posting content to the company’s Facebook wall, website, blog, tweeting, texting and instant messaging. Physical meetings are being replaced by virtual communication.

A manufacturer may consider using social media platforms to gather feedback from its customers. This allows the manufacturer to enhance the quality of its products to better satisfy the consumer's needs or to create new products. It's important to connect with a manufacturer’s customers where they are — online.

The mobility aspect of SMAC is even now a craze where more employees are syncing their tablets and smartphones to their workplace’s network. This gives the individual more responsibility while increasing productivity and limiting the need for IT involvement. The use of mobile technology on the plant floor to communicate production flow and other issues can save time and maybe even solve problems in a more timely manner.  

The mainspring behind the entire SMAC concept is analytics. Analytics provide data about how products are made to how they’re received by customers. Analytics will tell a manufacturer which online resources their customers are attracted to. This data is useful and having a data tool that crunches numbers is crucial to stimulating growth and being able to pinpoint which areas need improvement.

Analytics have completely changed how customers determine whom to connect with on what topics, which products they buy or where they find the best deal. The broad net cast by marketing and advertising based upon the demographics of readers or viewers is quickly being finely tuned. Learning how to understand customers and to communicate with them as individuals is often referred to as marketing and sales.

The proliferation of information has and will continue to shift the balance of power from the seller to the buyer. If a manufacturer does not already have a customer experience program in place, it is time to start thinking about one. If there is one in place, it should be enhanced and leveraged for competitive differentiation.

If operational information is restricted to a data warehouse in a manufacturer’s facility or remotely, cloud technology has reduced worry about the security of its physical location. Manufacturers can now store important data wirelessly for easy retrieval for employees in an office setting or for staff members who are traveling and using their mobile devices.

The cloud element of SMAC refers to the capability that a manufacturer has to store large amounts of capacity that are paid for by the minute or hour. Businesses do not need to spend millions of dollars building additional data warehouses. They simply rent it from a cloud provider, do their work and turn it off. When the business environment changes, they simply spin up another cluster in the cloud, pay another few hundred dollars and continue.

The power of disruptive business models, such as those pioneered by Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Google, etc., originates from managing SMAC technologies as an integrated stack. Just look at Amazon. When selecting a book on Amazon, buyers are presented with recommendations, based on analytics and very sophisticated algorithms. Once chosen, the book is served up from the cloud to a mobile reader of choice for instant enjoyment.

Customers love being offered personalized service. And a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. SMAC technology is spreading faster than any other strategy in the recent past. Some experts in the field have predicted that by 2020 SMAC will account for $5 trillion of the total spending by customers

The cloud is growing ever stronger. There has never been a time when a manufacturer could acquire fast computing at mere pennies per hour. A company can scale up and down its capacity and computing power as needed, and even the heaviest workloads can benefit from running on someone else’s millions of servers.

In the SMAC era, IT departments will need to provide an information infrastructure layer capable of not only processing vast amounts of data streaming into the enterprise in real-time, but also capable of learning from this information and making intelligent decisions.

A key component of SMAC is cybersecurity, which needs to be implanted and extensive. As part of the new SMAC architecture, addressing the major disruptive trends, manufacturers will need a new cybersecurity framework, as the existing one will dissipate into the virtualized environment.

Business models can be easily changed, as there is no longer a large capital expenditure. Instead costs are rolled into an operation which means any failing new model can be cut quickly reducing the risk. 

The progression of technology has moved from closed systems of communication to open or social platforms. We have moved from physical ground-based systems (LAN) to disconnected mobile systems. We have moved from general deductions to the understood and inferred meaning (analytics) of the company’s message, and from specific data centers to practical (cloud) enabled forms of communication and interaction.

A manufacturer has a lot to gain with the integration of a SMAC strategy. With this leaner, smarter way of using technology to the company’s advantage, a manufacturer can gain a deeper understanding of what’s needed for a sustainable, long term data collection strategy.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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