MRO Magazine

Why cloud computing offers advantages to the F&B industry

Digital transformation has accelerated significantly over the past two years. Much of this transformation is enabled by cloud computing, which emerged in the early 2000s and is still driving change in the way industries operate, including the food and beverage industry.


Food

May 4, 2022
By Steve Richmond

Industries

Photo KanawatTH / iStock / Getty Images

Although the F&B sector has been slower to adopt cloud technology and digitalization, we are now seeing increased demand from businesses looking to optimize their operations and gain a competitive advantage. Cloud computing technology – or remote data centres – enables productivity, cost, and efficiency improvements.

Due to its decentralized nature, cloud computing allows for data to be uploaded from anywhere, giving business owners insights into their operations across the board. For example, you can use cloud computing infrastructure to gather and analyze food crop data from the field to warehousing, shipping, and the retailer that sells it to the end consumer.

This is more cost-effective and less resource-intensive than previous models. Businesses had to purchase hardware and software and install, maintain, and upgrade it at significant capital and operational costs.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models, where expert providers sell access to software solutions monthly for a fee per user, are driving innovation. Cloud computing provides the backbone, and SaaS provides the specialist software. Companies investing in these solutions can respond faster to changing environments as they are not tied to technology; they can shift what they use as their needs change.

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The increasingly digitized nature of the F&B market globally is compelling industry players to track and manage all data related to their products across the entire lifecycle and supply chain. Take up is proving rapid.

Foundry noted in its recent Cloud Computing Study 2022, that “69 per cent of companies have accelerated their cloud migration over the past 12 months, and the percentage of companies with most or all IT infrastructure in the cloud is expected to leap from 41 per cent today to 63 per cent in the next 18 months.”

As the provider manages SaaS solutions, they are always up to date, and upgrades occur without any intervention from the user. Users can consequently keep updated as industry requirements like standards and regulations change without having to do anything to the systems to keep them current.

Beyond the general business benefits, cloud computing brings several advantages to the F&B sector.

Quality control and consistency
This is particularly relevant for food safety companies that need to comply with strict regulations and keep detailed records of their compliance. Hosting applications in the cloud means these companies have instant access to data as it is updated in the system, so they can access compliance data and documents in real-time. Food safety measures will always be up to date. As a result, maintenance and collaboration are streamlined.

Streamlined reporting
In rapidly changing industries, pulling up-to-the-minute data on the fly to make data-driven decisions is critical. The big data, analytics, and reporting features enabled by cloud computing solutions provide business decision-makers with the data they need when they need it. Everything from product inventory to sales figures is available to help F&B execs make decisions on shelf-life, stock levels, and product quality.

Business agility
Cloud computing and SaaS offerings have a clear advantage over older, on-site solutions, as they are easily and rapidly changeable. Meaning businesses can scale computing requirements up and down as the business needs change, accessing more compute power around month-end and reducing the requirement over quieter weeks.

Cloud infrastructures are accessible from anywhere that a company’s users have an appropriate device and an internet connection, making it effortless to serve one or multiple sites.

Cost benefits
The reduced IT requirement helps lower costs for businesses that adopt cloud computing. Companies can save on the hardware, software, and resources needed to manage and maintain these. This frees up capital expenditures to be allocated to other value-adding activities.

An increasingly wide range of applications is available as a service as SaaS grows and is adopted by more businesses. These are flexible and easy to integrate into existing systems. This means less complexity in business’ IT systems, lower staff overheads, and security benefits, because an expert SaaS provider manages all aspects of the offering, including access, backups, upgrades, and patching.

Cloud also delivers economy of scale advantages, businesses can scale their use up or down as their user base grows or shrinks. Opening new branches, for example, means adding new users, not adding an entirely new infrastructure rollout.

All of this, simply put, enables F&B businesses to focus on core operations and areas of growth, and leave the IT infrastructure to an outsourced expert. F&B
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Article provided by Projetech Inc.
Steve is the founder of Projetech Inc. He was educated at the University of Cincinnati and embarked on a career in the mechanical contracting business. Steve is a published author and accomplished speaker. He is also an active member of the Forbes Technology Council.