Also known as ‘third platform’, is an acronym for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud. It refers to how these facets of computing work in conjunction to become greater than the sum of their parts, gaining a competitive advantage through a better understanding of the customer. Although not part of the acronym, some technology commentators include ‘internet of things’ as part of SMAC.
Gartner define social technology as “Any technology that facilitates social interactions and is enabled by a communications capability, such as the Internet or a mobile device.” Social doesn’t stop at social media, it extents to any technology that enables social interaction. Social is set to revolutionise enterprise software as user interfaces gain a “social media” make over. The idea is to allow for seamless, point to point, communication between users within the application as opposed to using e-mail and also to gain a more natural and intuitive user experience. Artificial intelligence “bots” will be embedded into instant messaging services such as Skype and will be able execute requests as if you’re interacting with a human. For example; you could ask the bot, through Skype, for a price or stock code of an item.
Mobile represents instant access to send and receive data whenever and wherever it may be needed. This could be used in a warehouse to update and amend an order midway through the pick or in a factory to alert an engineer to a fault with a machine.
Enterprise solutions have masses of data which is rarely used for more than business intelligence. If the business intelligence is taken and analytics such as statistics and neutral networks added you can predict future trends. Analytics can successfully predict sales forecasts, market trends and machine failures.
Through cloud hosted services available on a pay per usage model, companies have access to hardware and software without having to pay for installation. Cloud services have made running enterprise applications cheaper and faster and often automatic upgrades. This responsive approach makes companies much more adaptive to today’s changing business needs.
Although each piece of the SMAC stack can be used in isolation, it’s when they’re used in conjunction that the real value can be extracted. Each element compliments the other creating a successful eco-system. Manufacturers are now faced with increasing levels of data which, when pushed into the cloud, can be processed quickly. Combining this data with business intelligence and analysis leads to better and more assured decision making. This data can then be accessed from any device, anywhere (with internet access) -including mobile devices – leading to real time action. The action to be taken could be discussed by multiple people within the business from multiple locations through a social platform integrated with the ERP, all working from the same data downloaded from the cloud. It collects, stores and analyses huge volumes of data from across the supply chain.
What Does SMAC Mean for Manufacturing?
SMAC can be a real catalyst for growth within manufacturing, particularly within SMEs, to whom moving physical infrastructure to the cloud can be a huge cost saver. The cloud and IoT enables smaller manufacturers to compete with larger manufacturers on data volume without having to make a hefty investment. By hosting data centres in the cloud rather than locally, businesses are moving an expensive capex to a more manageable opex – levelling the playing field between SMEs and big corporates. SMAC also presents new opportunities for manufacturing. The connectivity between the user, the product and the wider market place speeds up the innovation process. It gives manufacturers almost real time insight into market trends and customer preferences. Market research and research and development become a continuous loop of improvement; driving innovation and subsequently growth.