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Over the past decade, businesses have accumulated a sea of data on their operations, customers and business practices. Businesses have attempted to consume this data to drive effective business solutions with limited success. We are at the precipice where solutions seamlessly consume traditional data and merge it with unstructured data to cohesively drive business planning and execution. -M. Scott Moon, Principal, Tompkins International
I predict over the next five years that information will finally be holistically consumed to drive business decision-making and operational effectiveness. Companies will unleash the power of social media, expanding its traditional use in marketing goods and services to better gauge customer preferences. The era where businesses relied on the consumption of internal performance as the primary modeling framework is over.
Traditional retail continues to experience brick-and-mortar store closures, as it copes with the pressures being placed on them by the “New Retail.” The new go-to-market approaches provide flexible, cost-effective offerings that leverage historic retailers’ infrastructure as their foundation. Competing in the future will require instant insight from the dynamic marketplace rather than from one’s own business’s performance to sense the market and respond to customer demands.
Competing in tomorrow’s market will require data to integrate more effectively with planning tools.
Evolution of Unstructured Data. Twitter (288 million users) and Facebook (1.23 billion users) provide valuable and candid insight that is unstructured into customer preferences and product shortcomings. Unleashing the power of this information will help businesses better position their offering and their business image. With over 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies relying on social media for their marketing strategy, they will expand its use to drive supply chain initiatives.
With the competitiveness of e-commerce (over $2.3tr globally), understanding the underlying market direction helps you drive operational responses, instead of waiting before responding.
Topside Business Planning Tools. The development of integrated information platforms will lead to increased asset solutions that will leverage the current infrastructure availabilities as a service. This will require businesses to model their requirements using newly developed topside planning tools, requiring minimal set-up that in turn provides sound business direction and guidance.
The retail industry alone invests over $3.2tr in inventory annually and realizes a staggering $45bn (1.44 percent) in annual shrink. With no signs of this trend changing, reducing inventory by 1 percent equates to over $30bn in additional working capital that can be used to invest in operational evolution.
Autonomous Operations. Integrated information will enable the evolution of autonomous robots and vehicles to execute operational needs with limited human intervention. This will come in the form of autonomous trucks (which will take a general market acceptance) as well as flexible distribution robots that will enable scaling/compression based on business needs. Businesses will invest less in fixed infrastructure and more in flexible infrastructure that shares/scales as needed to support the business.
As an example, t-Sort is an innovative material handling system and has applications for both unit and parcel sortation. Anheuser-Busch is testing driverless vehicles to deliver their products. Tangible solutions are beginning to be presented on the market that makes this a reality.
The solutions built to date will provide the foundational road map for the developments of the future. They will, however, become more tightly integrated and the data shared will integrate legacy internally focused information with unstructured externally garnered data, helping surviving players compete in a margin-lean marketplace. Customer expectations of cost and service will get tougher, requiring providers to be efficient in their decision-making and their execution.
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