Tag Archive: IoT

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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Systems Pragmatist

The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology? 

AI, Robots, IoT, Blockchain, Hike!



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.

 



AI, Robots, IoT, Blockchain, Hike!

July 16th, 2018

AI (artificial intelligence), Robots, IoT (internet of things), Blockchain, hike! Doesn’t it sound like a foreign language?  It certainly does to my mother! Yet it is the language of the future.

business intelligence

Which of these technologies should we pay attention to?  Let’s look at some of the more popular ones:

  1.  AIDepending on your industry, AI will most certainly impact it.  Service industries such as accounting are definitely impacted. After all, if a program like Alexa can learn how to put together your taxes, it is bound to disrupt.  Machine learning and artificial intelligence can be powerful – preventative maintenance can be completely redefined in a proactive, predictive way.
  2. Robots – Isn’t everyone talking about robots?  Of course, this is partially because they are fun to talk about.  Is a robot good in all situations? NO! We’ve seen many manufacturers and distributors try robots and end up slowing the process down because they didn’t think about the full impacts.
  3.  IoT  We don’t even think about all the devices that are connected in our everyday lives.  Smoke alarms, security systems, phones, refrigerators, Amazon Alexa, our car, traffic signals, manufacturing machines, RFID tags and much more.  Connecting devices because we can yet for no valuable use just adds to the mountain of data to analyze. Instead, we should think about the strategic use of IoT for our business.
  4.  Blockchain Talk about another buzzword!  Isn’t a phone call, an email, EDI, lot traceability in ERP or a customer portal sufficient?  Many times – yes. Again, the value of blockchain should be evaluated before jumping on board with the latest and greatest trend; however, there will be uses.  When instantly visible, irrefutable and non-changeable (think avoidance of high potential fraud), traceable transactions are required, it might be just the medicine.
  5.  Autonomous vehiclesForklifts, cars, trucks, and more.  Again, let’s think ‘fit’ to our business.  In trucking, it is likely to make all sorts of sense.  Rates continue to rise. There is a shortage of drivers. Baby boomers are retiring. Environmental rules continue to increase. It does seem to fill a potential gap.

The underlying bottom line when it comes to technology remains – let’s not use technology for technology’s sake!
Instead, think smart. How does it fit with your business requirements? Will it provide a superior customer experience?  Purse those with a strong return on investment, ignore the rest and success will follow while your competition chases ‘shiny objects’.



Top Technologies for 2018

January 5th, 2018

vendor managed inventory

 

Technology Creating Business Value
We have never been believers in technology for technology’s sake – or, worse yet, FADS. However, there are some top technologies to keep an eye on in 2018 if you plan to create business value.  Not only are my most successful and progressive clients thinking about these technologies, but they are investing to leapfrog the competition.

What to Watch

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI)- Who can argue with the potential power of this technology?  It is saying something when my mom said her Amazon Alexa was the best gift she ever received (even though she only uses the alarm functionality).  Imagine how AI might transform entire industries (such as accounting) and functions (machinery and equipment maintenance).

  2. Blockchain – Although still in early stages, blockchain has the potential to transform high stakes transactions using a shared, secured, synchronized and immutable ledger.   

  3. IoT (the Internet of Things) – In today’s interconnected world, you cannot get away from connected devices.  We take them for granted.  The ultimate (which seems to be viable by 2020) is self-driving trucks.  Imagine the connections required to turn this concept into a reality. Yet, testing is already underway – and quite successful.  

  4. Predictive Analytics There is immense power in not only sifting through mounds of data rapidly and efficiently to pick out the trends and highlights, but taking that a step forward with predictive analytics is a game-changer.  Are you thinking about how to integrate predictive analytics into your decision-making processes?

  5. ERP and CRM Although tried and true, these “must have” technologies are no longer advantages. If you are interested in profitable, scalable growth, you’ll put these two topics on your strategic priority list.  

Your Edge
Customers expect you to be ahead of them, are you?



Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Success

November 11th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

My APICS Inland Empire chapter hosted our 11th executive panel and networking symposium on Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Success.  We had interesting discussions with top notch panelists spanning the end-to-end supply chain from Disney to OceanX.  The panel covered diverse supply chain topics such as autonomous vehicles and machine learning – thanks to  Terrie Dean, Craig Young, Stephen Richie, Thomas Jelenic and Matt Weinberg .  The event was a complete success thanks in large part to our Board of Directors (pictured below) – Valerie Ladd, Kevin Manning, Lisa Anderson, Parizad Sethna, Phil Elhai, Pamela Scrivner , Tony Martinez, Kate Loin-Barron, and Helen Arambulo.    

The Impact Technology is Having on our Economy
It is compelling to think about the BIG impact technology is having on manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and more.  Robots are taking over several aspects of manufacturing and distribution to speed up the process and reduce costs, so that we can be more competitive and successful in Southern California.  Have you thought about what this could mean to our economy?  Machine learning and artificial intelligence is also prevalent.  What could we accomplish by having the “right” data at the “right” time in the “right” place?  The down-the-line impacts of the strategic use of data are staggering.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Leveraging technology for supply chain success is a vast topic. So, it makes sense to start by absorbing the relevance and importance of the topic.  Our most successful clients are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to not only deliver products and services more quickly (think the Amazon effect) but also to remain viable from a cost perspective.  Have you thought about the value that can be gained by IoT?  The internet of things can capture data so that repair folks can be ahead of the game, parts can be available much more quickly, items can talk to one another (such as cars to traffic lights) and much more.  

The least we should do is be aware of the dramatic impacts technology could have on our businesses and to our customer experience.  Have you considered how to utilize technology to stand out from the crowd and deliver exceptional service so that your customers don’t even think of buying from anyone other than you?  Can you utilize data to better understand their needs?  Can you use technology to provide additional value?  What else could you do?  Gather your team and brainstorm.  Involve your customers in the conversation as well.  

Let me know how it goes.