Category: System Pragmatist

What’s Ahead in Technology?

January 30th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in technology, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, “What’s Ahead in Business?” for details on the key trends impacting business:

  1. Importance of the customer experience
  2. Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  3. Volatility is the new norm
  4. The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

What’s ahead in technology lines up with these same themes. In order to achieve scalable, profitable growth, technology is an important enabler. The most relevant technology trends include:

  1. ERP Upgrades – More and more companies are realizing that their system infrastructure must keep up with business requirements and customer expectations. As tough as an ERP upgrade can be, it is one of the only ways to make the leap from manual, labor-intensive processes to providing a superior customer experience efficiently.
  2. E-commerce/ Customer Portals – Amazon. Alibaba. Customer collaboration. Need we say more?
  3. Business Intelligence & Data Analytics – We are overwhelmed by mountains of data. We are so anxious to gather data yet we don’t seem to have the appropriate information at our fingertips when we need it. That’s where data analytics comes into the picture. Beyond that, predictive analytics is gaining steam.
  4. Artificial Intelligence – Even my Mom counts on Alexa! In addition, who wouldn’t want a car that self corrects? Predicting customer patterns and behaviors is becoming more important. AI is set to transform many industries over the next several years.
  5. IoT– Smart factories. Smart homes. Connected devices and machines. According to NEWGENAPPS, 60% of global manufacturers will use analytics data tracked using connected devices to analyze and and optimize processes.
  6. Robotics & Automation – Robots may not be taking over the universe tomorrow morning, but they are working hand-in-hand with people to achieve many benefits – improve safety, increase speed and consistency, improve customer satisfaction, fill capacity shortfalls and and increase productivity.
  7. Autonomous Vehicles – Beyond self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles are used widely in manufacturing and distribution environments.

Are you thinking about which of these technologies will support your business objectives?  Or which are likely to impact your industry?  Consider technology as a key part of your strategy and plans. If you’d like an expert to evaluate which, if any, of these technologies will be relevant to your business, contact us.

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What’s Ahead for People?

January 23rd, 2019

People make a business thrive. That’s why even the most technical of companies like Google value people.  In our experience, people are the #1 asset of any organization. Hands down, we can help any organization with good people quicker and to a FAR larger degree than an organization with very few good people.

In thinking about what’s ahead for people, there are many transitions and trends to be aware of:

 

  1. Baby Boomers  – As baby boomers retire, they will be harder to replace than what appears at first glance. Typically speaking, they aren’t up-to-speed on the latest technology.  They might have old fashioned ideas but they know “what works”. Don’t be too quick to hurry the process along. Instead, value their knowledge and find a way to transition it for a win-win.
  2. The Skills Gap – It is hard not to have a skills gap when technologies change daily. Jobs are being automated and new jobs are being created with entirely new skill requirements. The world is becoming more complex and global and customers expect more for less. Are you prioritizing the retention of your top talent? Is your company attractive to top talent?
  3. Diversity– We are not believers in mandates and regulations but we have found diversity to propel success. Are you actively attracting people who do NOT think like you? That’s a tough one (after all, don’t we all prefer people who agree with us?), but it is important if you want your team and organization to thrive.
  4. Spark an Innovative Culture – With the high demands of customers, bard members and the like, solid leadership is no longer enough. Sparking innovation has become a “must” for success.
  5. Back to the Leadership Basics – There is no coincidence that every successful client has a strong leader. Whereas long-term struggling clients and contacts (as struggling leaders rarely hire consultants) have weak leaders. Being a strong leader is “hard work” and requires courage. What are you doing to build your leadership bench strength?

The core tenets of successful people do not change. The requirements and challenges we face continue to expand. Yet, the route to success is clear. We choose to see this fact with hope as it does not require rocket science to become a good leader.  We’ve seen plenty of examples of mediocre leaders who transform into exceptional leaders through mentoring, coaching and experience.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic: Profit Through People 

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The Resilient Supply Chain: Top Requests from Clients on Technology

January 11th, 2019

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are sharing a short video on the relevance of ERP and e-commerce systems from the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.

I’m responding to a question on what manufacturers and distributors need when it comes to systems and technology.  Every client in the last few years has requested a project objective that goes back to the overarching goal of scalable, profitable growth.  The trick is how to achieve BOTH a superior customer experience (with increasing pressure from disruptors such as Amazon and Uber) AND profitable growth. Of course, there is no easy answer, and it depends on a multitude of factors. With that said, there is an ever increasing need to scale with technology inclusive of ERP, e-commerce and more.

ERP has become much more of a strategic topic. It isn’t about blocking and tackling and using ERP to achieve tactics.  Instead, it is about whether a business has the technology and systems to scale in a scalable, profitable way.

Do your systems support your customers’ needs?  If not, you had better jump into the fray or the next disruptor will eat your lunch.  If your answer was, ‘yes but I have to do x, y and z to make it work,’ our next question is will this process be repeatable, reliable and profitable?  If not, perhaps you better think twice. It is likely your competitor will answer yes.  Lastly, have you thought about your customers’ needs a year into the future?  If you aren’t prepared to handle them currently, you are getting behind.

Our most successful clients don’t wait so long that they lag behind. Is it time for an upgrade?  You are most welcome to our free resources to determine whether it is  the ‘right’ time. As you debate the benefits vs. costs, keep in mind that as hard as it is to take the leap, the most successful executives are willing to take on prudent risk to make leaps forward.  Are you?

If you would like an expert to assess your situation to determine whether you should further leverage your current software, put the effort into upgrading or simply focus on people and process improvement opportunities, contact us.

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology

December 7th, 2018

In today’s Amazon-impacted, Uberian environment, technology opportunities abound!  Beyond ERP and related subsystems, there is IoT, blockchain, robotics, autonomous vehicles, predictive analytics and much more.  Should we invest or not?

Clearly, if we invest in every one of these opportunities, we could “go broke”. How do we decide? And, will it help us create a resilient supply chain?

 

The answer:  It depends!
Our best clients follow a similar process and answer the following questions:

  1.  What is the state of the industry?  What disruptors are likely to impact the industry?  What trends are occurring? Where do we see it going?
  2.  How do we stand in the industry?  How are we positioned?  What is our unique value proposition?  What differentiates us from the competition?
  3.  What is our technology/ IT infrastructure?  Does our ERP system support our current needs?  Does it support our growth? Is our ERP partner aligned with technology partners that can help in expanding our future technology capabilities?  The bottom line – where are we starting?
  4.  What is our vision?  Understanding where we want to go is relevant.  What will it take to achieve our vision? Do we know what people, processes, systems/ technologies and culture change will be required to attain our vision?
  5.  Is the technology required to achieve the vision? (given our competitive differentiators and changes occurring in the industry)  Adding technology that doesn’t support our vision might be exciting but doesn’t support the future whereas not investing in technology required to support our vision is also problematic.
  6.  What are the priorities?  If there are several technologies required to support progress, which are required first in terms of sequence (if relevant), which have the greatest impact, and which are urgent to meet a customer need or avoid a negative consequence?

The Bottom Line:
Don’t invest because everyone is investing.  Invest because it supports scalable, profitable growth.

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Are You the Disrupted or the Disruptor?

November 1st, 2018

At the Association for Supply Chain Management’s (ASCM/APICS) International Conference, almost every presenter mentioned disruption.  It is prevalent in today’s Amazonian, technology-ridden environment.  

Similarly, after attending APICS, I flew to lead the annual meeting for the Society for the Advancement of Consulting. During the first lunch, my colleagues spent the entire time discussing disruption.  One (a former Apple executive) lives it daily and coaches executives on disruption.  Another is a leadership expert who sees the significance and is writing a book on disruptors.  Interesting!

In the interim, we have dealt with a few client challenges – guess what?  You got it. They relate to disruption! And last but not least, the next leg of my trip was entirely about disruption.  Technology has the potential to vastly impact manufacturing and distribution jobs, so it makes a lot of sense to find a proactive approach instead of playing the victim.  

According to a proactive CPA partner, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to transform the industry.  According to a healthcare expert, it has vast potential to disrupt the healthcare industry. Gartner thinks 33% of all occupations will be performed by smart robots by 2025.  Forrester Research says AI will take over up to 16% of jobs in the U.S. And, if that wasn’t shocking enough, Google thinks                                                                     robots will achieve human intelligence levels by 2029.  

So, do you want to be the disrupted or the disruptor? We choose disruptor!

Since I had lunch with two disruption experts, I asked the critical question:  Can we learn to become a disruptor? The great news is that it is possible! Start paying attention to disruptors.  What do they do differently? What would you like to emulate? You don’t have to do exactly what they do. Find your own path but look for commonalities.  One of our colleagues is writing a book on this exact subject. When it comes out, we’ll pass it along.

In the interim, start asking a few questions….