Driven by the pandemic, cloud technology has become increasingly attractive to manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers. Its quick deployment times, low upfront costs, easy access, ability to scale and seamless updates benefited companies when operations were disrupted by shifts in supply chain models.

Josh Roffman, Loftware senior vice president of of product management and marketing.

During this disruption, the vital role of labelling in supply chains became increasingly apparent. As a result, cloud-based labelling solutions were put firmly on the radar of organisations that needed to shift production, accommodate a remote workforce, and extend labelling to new partners and suppliers to ensure the continuous movement of parts and products – upstream and downstream – without delays. As noted in our recent report, ‘Top 5 Trends in Labelling and Packaging Artwork’, 42% of business leaders have already embraced a cloud-first strategy for enterprise applications and a further 73% of US$1bn+ companies believe the cloud will be the preferred method for labelling applications in the next three years.

Businesses are now recognising the need for a modern cloud-based approach to enterprise labelling and artwork management. What are the core benefits of moving labelling operations to the cloud? Will companies that successfully exploit the cloud be better positioned for the future? And does the cloud allow for a competitive edge?

Seven business-boosting benefits of moving to the cloud

1. Connection 

One key learning from the pandemic is that organisations need the right tools to stay connected. Companies using on-premise, siloed business systems were hit hard when they needed to offer remote team members “anywhere anytime” connectivity.

The cloud not only facilitates shifts in production and labelling, it accommodates remote workforces, providing device and location independence. It also extends services to new partners and suppliers.

As a trend that was already gaining steam pre-pandemic, we all know remote work is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future. This means that easy and flexible access to essential business systems is only going to become more critical.

2. Agility

It’s hard to keep pace with today’s business environment. Organisations cannot afford to slow production and risk competitors beating them to market, but the current landscape is complex and changeable. Organisations must be agile in the face of changing market demands, not least the various customer, regulatory, and brand requirements that come into play across sectors and geographies.

When handled incorrectly, labelling can cause big delays and even bigger problems when you can’t get the right data on the right label. Without the best technology solutions, companies cannot adapt and adjust fast enough. This inflexibility means businesses lose out on money, productivity, and market share. 

Moving to the cloud not only improves accuracy and consistency, thereby reducing the risk of mislabelling, it makes it easier to draw from sources of truth for label data and dynamically address labelling variability.

With the cloud, companies can leverage data and configure rules that dynamically change label content based on that data. This facilitates quicker label template updates; streamlines label changes and approval processes; and enables compliance. 

3. Availability

A reliable cloud-based labelling solution ensures continuous uptime and availability. Labelling activities can be shifted from one site to another at a moment’s notice. No matter what the circumstance, whether it be an outage or workforce shortage, companies can be confident they can keep operations running. The high availability, speedy disaster recovery, and high level of data security afforded by the cloud is a compelling draw for businesses of all sizes.

4. IT demand

Unlike other applications, the cloud does not require a large IT team or limitless budget. Since there are automatic software updates and minimal upkeep requirements, business users can easily make changes and updates without requiring assistance from IT. Companies greatly value the reduced hassle and increased ability to allocate resources elsewhere.

5. Costs

Patchwork labelling systems increase the likelihood of delays, data errors, lost business, and high maintenance costs. The cloud, by contrast, offers cost-saving opportunities, putting world-class enterprise systems in the hands of companies of all sizes – even those that are resource constrained and historically could not afford such software. Now companies of all sizes are reaping the benefits of moving their labelling applications to the cloud.

The cloud eliminates the need for upfront investments. Simply put, you only pay for what you use and when you use it. The cloud also reduces staff costs and overall manpower hours, while also addressing expenses involved in scaling and updating hardware and software. 

Other, less obvious cost advantages of cloud labelling include its smaller environmental footprint (there are no big servers to maintain on site) and a dramatic reduction in errors. This, in turn, leads to less waste and fewer scrapped supplies, both of which can positively contribute to a company’s carbon footprint.

6. Scalability

Business leaders need to adopt an appropriate labelling solution, one that is automated, centralised, agile and can scale if their business is to grow and expand into new regions. Whether a company is looking to add more locations, increase print volumes, manufacture new products, or comply with ever-changing regulations, the cloud is the answer.

In today’s business environment, manual processes represent barriers to growth and scale. However, once digitised in a cloud-based labelling solution, these manual processes give way to the seamless exchange of data and allow companies to maintain existing systems and user interactions to improve efficiencies and scale labelling across their entire business ecosystem. 

Additionally, the cloud gives users more flexibility when re-provisioning, adding, or expanding technological infrastructure resources. Businesses can also quickly onboard new sites, provide standardised training and extend labelling to suppliers and partners without disruption. This increases control and eliminates costly and time-consuming errors.

In an increasingly global world, businesses are keen to expand into new regions. The cloud helps all locations solve their unique labelling needs while also ensuring the use of a common set of labels, applications, and data sources across the supply chain. This centralised approach helps companies ensure business continuity and achieve consistency and accuracy while empowering them to enable mass label changes to meet complex, global and high-volume labelling demands.

7. Security and confidence 

Cyber risk has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Companies understand the urgency of keeping data safe online, whether it’s hosted on their servers or through a provider.

Fortunately, with the cloud, security is often better than with other traditional systems. Primarily because service providers devote a vast amount of resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford to tackle or which they lack the technical skills to address. With this trusted team of certified security professionals, companies can implement security measures that protect their data in the cloud. 

The ideal cloud-based solution will be built on AWS or Microsoft Azure, which are architected to be the most flexible and secure cloud computing environments available today. Remember that at the end of the day, the partner behind the technology is just as important — if not more critical — than the technology itself. Organisations should look for partners who provide deployment options that put security and stability front and centre, that ensures entrusted data is protected, and can verify security measures to protect data in the cloud.