Advancements in logistics, infrastructure, communications and IT have led to significant improvements in supply chain management. Economic uncertainty has tested many key industries as of late, but they have demonstrated impressive resilience and adaptability. However, digital transformation presents a new challenge that requires a very specific response.
What is digital transformation, exactly? In short, it’s the implementation of new technologies to accelerate business functions such as operations, sales and customer service, and distribution. Digital transformation has the potential to impact your business growth in a positive way and, like anything to do with technology, it’s advancing fast.
In today’s digital age, customers within the supply chain are more educated and empowered than ever before. Suppliers, channel partners, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and end-consumers do their own research long before they even engage with you. They make their minds up fast and expect you to match them in their speed and digital skills at every step.
There’s no denying or ignoring digital transformation. If you haven’t already, you need to get your business ready for it. Fortunately, there are many benefits in doing so. With enhanced day-to-day insights and productivity, you can take advantage of new sales opportunities and grow your business significantly. Of course, change in any form can be overwhelming without a little help.
In this blog, we take you through the three trends key to achieving successful digital transformation.
1. Big data
Experience and gut instinct will get you only so far and no further. When it comes to making important business decisions, you also need to add big data analytics to the mix. With all three factors in play and working together, you’ll be able to make better decisions far faster than before.
Data analytics and reporting capabilities are typically built into CRM and BI systems. They are powerful tools that can generate a number of predictive insights using the data at hand. For example, they can track customer buying behaviour and alert you to any up- or cross-selling opportunities. Or, let you know if there’s been an unexpected drop in spending so that you can check-in with the customer immediately.
Your sales, marketing and customer service teams no longer need to rely on guesswork or cold-calls. Nor do they have to become data scientists. Data analytics programmes are much simpler than they used to be. Instead of causing them headaches, your teams will benefit from user-friendly software that helps them process and interpret information clearly and easily.
Our research shows that 17% of salespeople struggle with manual data entry, 9.5% use outdated spreadsheets for reporting and analysis, and 6% feel inadequately prepared for sales meetings. Time is always a factor – the challenge being that there is too little of it.
Allocating valuable time and people-power to important – yet repetitive administrative – tasks is a waste of valuable resources. Automation-powered technologies offer a fast and efficient solution. In fact, many software applications in the modern business environment already use task bots to automate data entry, reporting, and the collation of information for meetings.
And this is just the beginning. In the workplace of the future, employees won’t have to worry about administration at all. This means they can focus their time on more business-critical work such as strategy, customer relationships, brand promotions and product development.
As shown by our research, 70% of manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers see e-commerce as a business opportunity. The big question is: will digital sales channels encourage these companies to sell directly to the end consumer? And thus, eliminate the need for any intermediaries in the supply chain?
At this point, anything is possible. However, the supply chain as a whole does need to prepare for an impact. And those who could be affected need to adapt to this new model of selling, and find new ways to add value and stay relevant.
Embracing digital transformation
You might be up-to-speed on these three trends already – but have you implemented them in your business?
And by that, we don’t just mean adding it to your IT department’s to-do list. Data governance for example, is the responsibility of every department and needs to involve anyone who has contact with customers in any way.
The main barrier to digital transformation is a lack of communication and awareness. Company-wide awareness campaigns and training programmes can teach teams to use technology to improve their productivity. Once people see how they can benefit from new ways of working, they are much more enthusiastic, and much less apprehensive.
All companies in the supply chain have something to gain from digital transformation. The trick to doing it successfully is to meet it head-on. So, start preparing your business now.