“He who hesitates is lost.”
The origin of this phrase dates back to the Industrial Revolution. As we find ourselves in the midst of a new revolution – a digital revolution – this phrase is just as applicable today as it was in 1760.
Serious revenue opportunities exist today for those who are willing to take decisive action. Those who hesitate to take advantage of new technological developments will find themselves lagging behind their competitors.
A recent column in DC Velocity makes this point explicitly, noting that companies that have quickly embraced technology are among the most successful in operation. The author cites Amazon and Uber as two prominent recent examples, but also brings to mind the deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980: a number of carriers that didn’t exist before the legislative change responded to it quickly to establish and sustain operational advantage.
The point in all of these cases is the correlation between speed and revenue growth. Companies that move quickly are more likely to lead.
The imperative to act fast is magnified by the digital technology transformation in global business, particularly manufacturing. As McKinsey notes in a recent article:
Indeed, the explosion in data and new computing capabilities—along with advances in other areas such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, additive technology, and human-machine interaction—are unleashing innovations that will change the nature of manufacturing itself. Industry and academic leaders agree that digital-manufacturing technologies will transform every link in the manufacturing value chain, from research and development, supply chain, and factory operations to marketing, sales, and service. Digital connectivity among designers, managers, workers, consumers, and physical industrial assets will unlock enormous value and change the manufacturing landscape forever.
What does this mean from a supply chain perspective? Digital supply chains have come of age. According to Accenture, “As every business becomes a digital business, digitization has the potential to transform the supply chain by making services more valuable, accessible, and affordable.” Additionally, by enabling data analytics, mobile, and social media functions, the cloud helps organizations realize benefits from major developments that are redefining traditional supply chain networks. Accenture cites four of these:
- Greater volatility: Supply chains can struggle with accommodating the speed and profusion of today’s volatility, but leveraging the cloud facilitates responsiveness to supply chain disruptions.
- Data proliferation: Because most data technologies have been adopted in a piecemeal fashion, enterprise data is vastly underutilized. To unlock its value, companies must start to treat this data as a supply chain, enabling it across the extended organization; by leveraging this process, cloud-based solutions facilitate actionable insights that make digital supply chains intelligent.
- Industrial-grade performance: The flow of goods can now be managed with digital tools that leverage high volumes of data from multiple sources, connect resources (i.e., human and machine) in real-time, and utilize social media to collaborate beyond traditional organizational boundaries. By moving to the cloud, companies can operate with increased flexibility and mass-customize products and services.
- End-to-end visibility: The connected cloud enables real-time collaboration so companies can realize the goal of turning supply chains into end-to-end business operating strategies.
According to Peter Sondergaard, global head of research at Gartner, “The focus is on how the supply chain can consume and leverage data, integrate sensors and other elements of the Internet of Things (IoT) and software for customer segmentation and marketing automation. This is a linear evolution of the investments under way in many supply chain organizations.”
Multiple studies have shown the real return on investment of moving to the cloud:
- Eighty percent of cloud adopters report the cloud enables them to scale and grow faster.
- Eighty-four percent of CIOs report that they have cut application costs by moving to the cloud.
- Ninety-four percent of SMB cloud adopters report security benefits.
- Fifty percent of cloud users have reduced their IT spend by twenty-five percent.
- Companies that move to the cloud save, on average, twenty-one percent annually.
- Companies that use the cloud spend twenty-five percent less on personnel.
Despite such figures, however, cloud adoption has been relatively slow in key segments of the supply chain. A recent survey of DC Velocity readers found that while 64 percent of the 230 respondents had deployed a WMS, only 8 percent of those deployments were cloud-based.
While well-designed on-premise technology still holds value for supply chains as part of a short-term strategy, it is no longer viable as the basis of an effective, sustainable strategy. For supply chains, investment in change must happen at a fundamental level, and they must be able to adapt and persist through the growing and integration pains that accompany change. Considering how fast technology is advancing—and how that advance is affecting the way supply chains function—companies need to adopt a cloud warehouse management system now.
“By driving the strategy and promoting the positive benefits of cloud, CIOs will reduce risks and maximize investments, rather than simply ignoring cloud and falling behind,” says James Butler, chief technology officer of Trustmarque in a post on CloudTech.
We agree, remembering that age-old adage about the costs of hesitation.
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irms|360 provides real-time visibility and control over your operations to drive efficiencies and reduce costs in your warehouse.
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