By generating business innovation, ABeam Cloud® facilitates global competitiveness
Both technologies and market environments are evolving at an unprecedented pace. Consequently, companies need to continually make high-level strategic decisions in a speedy manner, and repeatedly come up with innovations. ABeam Cloud® is gaining widespread attention as a platform that normalizes such business innovations. In this feature, the two proponents of business transformations driven by ABeam Cloud® discuss strategies to make the most of the service.
Executive Officer, Principal
Head of P&T Digital Business Unit
Head of Project Support Group
IT Management & Services Sector
P&T Digital Business Unit
Providing a one-stop solution for innovation
As global IT giants engage in fierce competition to develop cloud-related services, the world has entered an age in which start-up companies release new applications on a daily basis that leverage AI, IoT, and other technologies that operate on cloud platforms. Indeed, the advance of cloud technologies over the past few years has been astonishing.
The rise of digitization has led to the influence of technologies on market environments and vice-versa. As a result, both have undergone accelerated change. In order to cater to these changes swiftly and flexibly, utilization of the cloud has now become a matter of course.
Akira Akaishi, head of both P&T Digital Business Unit and Project Support Group, says, “Cloud services are continually applying the latest technologies, even when it comes to, say, memory or CPUs. Use of the cloud enables companies to establish environments that take advantage of such cutting-edge technologies. There is no doubt that the cloud is now a key element in the realization of digital transformation”.
In the present day and age, the way in which companies internalize and elicit the greatest benefit from cloud platforms significantly influences their competitiveness.
Through ABeam Cloud® , ABeam Consulting coordinates with domestic and overseas cloud service companies, and selects optimal cloud infrastructures for its customers. It provides a one-stop fully managed service that covers everything from software license management to maintenance and operation of the entire cloud.
Consultants research the latest technologies and applications from across the world, including Silicon Valley and Israel, and incorporate services that benefit users. Since it is difficult for companies to fund such services by themselves, ABeam Consulting’s establishment of up-to-date, optimal environments is encouraging.
Two of the major attractions of ABeam Cloud® are the ability to use ABeam Method®, a compilation of methods cultivated through consultations in a variety of industry types, and to use the template groups for a variety of industry types via the cloud.
Shunichiro Yamamoto, senior expert at P&T Digital Business Unit’s IT Management & Services Sector, explains: “ABeam Cloud® provides customers with access to ERP templates for global production and sales, real estate, and other fields, as well as applications for a variety of business processes such as workforce management, subscription management, and supply and demand management. In addition, it enables customers to make use of digital platforms such as IoT and analytics. These services allow systems to be implemented more quickly, and enable customers to respond to changes in business environments quickly and flexibly”.
Cloud technologies are evolving on a daily basis. Consequently, companies struggle to ensure they have engineers who can keep pace with these technological changes. Furthermore, digitization has not just increased the rate of change; it has also resulted in the fusion of digital technologies with business models. Personnel that are familiar with both digital technologies and business strategies and processes are now indispensable, and the lack of such personnel is a cause of concern for many companies.
Akaishi says with conviction, “At ABeam Consulting, we form teams of strategic consultants, consultants familiar with different industries and business processes, and IT consultants to help resolve the problems facing our customers. In order to extract maximum value from our business innovation platform, ABeam Cloud®, we are strengthening the support provided by our teams”.
Establishing a global management infrastructure in a short time frame
As indicated by the call to “incorporate the growth of emerging markets”, from the start of the new millennium, Japanese companies accelerated overseas expansion to gain access to new markets. Regardless, many companies have not enjoyed the success they anticipated.
One possible cause is that these companies expanded globally before they had sufficiently developed their management infrastructures. In many cases, companies that expanded into multiple countries operated independent systems in each region. This meant they were unable to visualize fundamental management information on production, inventory, sales, or accounting. Even within one country, production, logistics, and sales data between a company’s business sites might be insufficiently coordinated. The company would therefore be unable to develop production and logistics systems optimized for its sales plans. Such examples are commonplace.
Regarding the above issues, Akaishi says, “In order to be able to accelerate local decision making, acquire new markets, and create new businesses, it is critical that companies establish a global management infrastructure”.
While companies recognize the veracity of this advice, since it is difficult for them to predict accurately how quickly their businesses will expand in new overseas markets, they are unable to make significant system investments. In addition, since human resources are limited at overseas subsidiaries, companies are frequently unable to dedicate sufficient personnel to their systems departments.
ABeam Cloud® provides an answer for such issues: it requires minimal initial investment, caters flexibly to business expansion, and, because maintenance and operations are included, ABeam Cloud® enables companies to maintain and operate their systems even with limited personnel.
“Global management infrastructure can also be described as infrastructure that enables PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycles to be implemented on a global level”, says Yamamoto. “In addition to establishing shared global KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each employee class, business processes are executed according to rules and codes that have been standardized in line with these KPIs. These executed processes are then stored as business process results information, whereupon they can be visualized via business intelligence tools or linked to the ‘check’ and ‘act’ phases of the PDCA cycle. With ABeam Cloud®, customers can implement such global management infrastructure in a short time frame”.
For example, ABeam Cloud® templates contain business processes formulated via best practices taken from vast numbers of ABeam Consulting projects, standardized documents such as business process requirement definition documents and operation manuals, and add-on programs. By using these templates, ERP implementation projects that typically take between 12 and 18 months can be completed in just 4 to 7 months.
ABeam Cloud® templates also incorporate add-on programs that cater to the specific requirements of various countries, such as tax systems and accounting systems. This is reassuring for companies aiming to expand globally.
Making businesses event-driven through the use of ABeam Cloud® Portal
Many companies are apprehensive of transferring domestic, large-scale mission-critical business systems to the cloud, even if they permit such moves for overseas business sites.
Akaishi advises: “Such concerns can be resolved through the establishment of a two-tier management infrastructure system.
Domestic mission-critical business systems can remain on-premise or on private clouds, and still be linked to ABeam Cloud® services used by overseas business sites”.
Nevertheless, a fully integrated global management infrastructure is undoubtedly more ideal. Yamamoto predicts that “In the near future, extreme standardization and optimization—including automation and the use of AI—will come to dominate the field of enterprise systems. Companies will also increasingly seek to differentiate themselves by raising investments in the so-called Systems of Insight and Systems of Innovation. These are fields that use deep insight and analysis—such as digital marketing and analytics—in order to directly expand sales”.
“When Japanese companies move mission-critical business systems to the cloud”, says Akaishi, “the use of multiple, independently developed add-on systems often creates a bottle-neck. We can use ABeam Cloud® to cater to such cases by linking their mission-critical business systems and add-on systems over the cloud”.
Cloud-based ERP software is typically updated once a year. Vast resources can be required to verify whether add-on systems are able to operate problem-free within this updated software environment. Akaishi notes: “With regard to the various templates and add-on programs that are already incorporated into ABeam Cloud®, we guarantee they will work without issue on the latest versions”. Software updates are only released to ABeam Cloud® customers after ABeam Consulting’s dedicated operational guarantee team has been able to verify that its templates and add-on programs operate problem-free on the latest versions.
In order to increase the value of using ABeam Cloud® still further, ABeam Cloud® Portal continues to be developed. ABeam Cloud® Portal is a strategic portal site aimed at strengthening customer engagement, and comprises news media, service catalogues, and integrated application portals.
“We want our customers to use ABeam Cloud® Portal as an entrance to their daily business processes”, says Akaishi. “Let us take the example of an employee who logs in via mobile devices on his commute. He is alerted to the fact that there is likely to be a shortage of some product so, when he arrives at work, he can then check the status of the relevant orders. If necessary, he can also immediately place an order. This is the sort of scenario we have in mind”.
Systems that instantly react to events such as orders, product stocking, and new customer registrations are called event-driven systems. ABeam Cloud® Portal enables not only systems but also business processes to be event-driven. This has the potential to minimize both loss of business opportunities and wasted work.
ABeam Cloud® Portal allows customers to sample services and to sign up for additional services. In the future, there are plans to introduce case studies of companies that use ABeam Cloud®, to report the latest industry trends, and to transmit other forms of information.
Going forward, ABeam Consulting will continue to adopt various technologies and applications, and further evolve ABeam Cloud® as a management infrastructure that supports corporate business activities and the creation of innovation.