Roche details two major trends in supply-chain technology: the growing deployment of mobile devices, and the embrace of "big data." The first development "allows companies to go where they couldn't go before" - all the way back to key suppliers. The second means having access to huge amounts of data from multiple sources, aiding companies in their strategic decision-making.
Major applications can now be accessed on mobile devices, and used "wherever they're needed." At the same time, the small size of the devices presents users with a limited number of options, preventing them from becoming distracted by too much information.
That's not necessarily a contradiction, Roche says. "The mobile devices component allows for the collection of a lot of information that can be used in a big-data scenario."
Organization inertia continues to slow full adoption of the technology, however. Roche says many companies tend to be rigid about sticking to the ways in which they deployed systems in the past. The pain of implementing large applications has made them unwilling to go in new directions, he says. What they're missing is the opportunity to access social media that is geared entirely toward mobile applications. "There's a cultural clash between the old and new ways," he says.
At the same time, the price of systems has come down, making companies more willing to spend money on new technology. They are able to try out applications to see if they work, then expand their use quickly if the test proves a success.
The consumer, of course, has embraced mobile apps in a big way. In a reversal of tradition, they're leading the business sector in the adoption of new technology. Company employees, too, are eager to use the latest mobile devices. "The hurdle now is more at the executive level," says Roche.
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