We should always understand one thing -
Change is the only thing that is Permanent. Change is the Rule of Nature
A wise leader is one who chooses to build an enterprise that is flexible to this permanent phenomenon called Change. With Change being permanent, the onus is now on the leader to make sure that this Change always happens for the good (a positive change) and with minimal incremental cost.
In the context of Information Technology, IT Leaders are often presented with such situations of having to make a choice between multiple solutions. This is when a leader needs to look through the telescope and see the solution from a long term perspective. An IT architecture that will scale up faster with minimal change with high utilization of existing investment and legacy systems is the basic need.
The manufacturing space is flooded with a lot of industry standards, and the IT infrastructure has to be able to support all of these industry standards. The standards defined by ISA, like the SP95 and SP88 models are the core of any manufacturing industry. It is very important that an IT infrastructure supports the ISA SP95/88 models at the least.
With the advancements made in the technology space, the IT infrastructure should be able to support the latest concepts of social networking, blogging, wikis, instant messaging, etc. Also, this new infrastructure has to be able to support newer hardware technologies like newer readers, sensors, mobile devices, embedded devices, etc.
Also, with the generation-Y people coming into the manufacturing workforce, it becomes an even more challenging task for the IT Leaders to create an IT infrastructure that will attract more of this new generation engineers to the manufacturing industry.
With so many factors to be considered, a flexible and agile IT infrastructure is the key. AMR Research precisely defines an SOA-based approach to manufacturing in its article titled Manufacturing 2.0: Defining Next-Generation Manufacturing. IBM has been a leading player in this space, with a structured approach to Manufacturing 2.0. IBM has partnered with several key players in this space to provide its customers with the Industry Frameworks approach. These frameworks helps the IT Leaders look beyond just MES or ERP systems...into creating an integrated manufacturing enterprise.