Technological innovation in the supply chain is happening by leaps and bounds. Shane Snyder, president of Barcoding Inc., discusses how good a job companies are doing in adapting to this never-ending change.
SCB: Where has supply-chain technology modernization been going in the last couple of years?
Snyder: It's a constantly evolving industry. It's driven by technology changes as well as end-user expectations. Every time one provider raises the bar a bit, the next provider's got to raise it that much more. And the technology is usually one step ahead. End users are looking for different ways to leverage technology to meet these ever-evolving changes.
SCB: How will it all look over the next couple of years?
Snyder: Probably the biggest evolution we're going to see is in the last-mile piece of the supply chain. It’s a reaction to more and more demand. I don't think you can drive through a neighborhood in the United States today without running into some sort of delivery vehicle. It’s kind of an Uber economy out there. We’re seeing people evolving toward a zero-carbon footprint in the last-mile delivery piece, with providers committed to changes such as electric vehicles. At the same time, there's still demand for, "I've got to have my bar of soap tomorrow no matter what." So it's a convergence of those two thoughts.
SCB: How long does it take organizations to adapt to new technology? It's not an easy task for them, is it?
Snyder: It's certainly not. There’s a lot of investment in research and development, with a “voice of the customer” focus. Companies can adapt rather quickly, though, and there’s no shortage of new technologies.
SCB: What are the barriers to modernization?
Snyder: They come in a couple of pieces. Capital is always an issue. How much can I invest and still meet my numbers for bottom-line profitability or earnings per share? Another big component of adopting new technology is how do I effectively train people on it?
SCB: What role does the shift to Android as the mobile-platform standard take? How is that going to affect operations?
Snyder: It’s a tidal shift. We've moved from a character-based approach under the traditional Microsoft environment, to one that’s much more dynamic. We’re all using smart technology. Android allows you to add a lot more functionality for the end user. Instead of being able to deliver just two or three applications in a traditional OS environment, with Android I have unlimited ability to deliver new and different applications out there. And we’re finding that Android OS is a much more secure environment than some of the more traditional options.
SCB: What about the role of artificial intelligence and analytics in making sense of all that data?
Snyder: It's very sexy, and artificial intelligence is going to be the doer of all things. AI will allow users to have a better experience in terms of not just gathering and processing data, but actually acting on it. It gets rid of the drudgery of data capture and manipulation. The data can be used to impact the employee and customer experience.
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