In my last blog, I talked about how technology-driven disruptors, like Amazon, are forcing change in many industries and sectors. Accucode consistently sees this in the behavior of our customers and the markets that we serve.
Historically, industrial mobile computing, barcode scanning, RFID and IP communication are only extended to high-volume processes like supply chain logistics, ordering, inspection, etc. Even in these business applications, market penetration has always been relatively shallow outside of very large corporate entities and the U.S.
However, this has changed in the past 5 years. Disruptors like Amazon have set a new bar for business process automation and electronic customer engagement. The new generation of consumer now expects and prefers a self-service option. We want a button to push.
Retailers, consumer brands and B2B suppliers are all in disruption mode. Visibility and process automation is being pushed out to more and more processes and markets. Multi-tenant, cloud-based business systems combined with reliable networks, automated data collection and IoT technologies allow SMB and mid-market users to acquire, deploy and scale technology in ways that they never could before. The applicable market for these technologies is expanding rapidly and on a global basis. Everyone now needs technology in every aspect of their business, or soon they won’t be able to compete in the push-button economy.
This dynamic is currently most obvious in the retail sector. Many long-time retail operators are failing. Retail real-estate is feeling the impact of store closings across the world. Those that are behind technologically are the first to go. All retailers need to have a plan for 24/7 electronic engagement with their customers, their employees and their trading partners. This requires a new way of thinking about business models and the technology ecosystem that supports them.
The pace of this disruption will continue to increase. New processors combined with artificial intelligence are going to allow for some amazing capabilities when it comes to engagement with customers, employees and training partners. However, as I mentioned in my last blog, in order to be ready to take advantage of this opportunity you must start collecting all the data you can about as many processes as possible. That data will be used to train and build your business process automation systems.
Your network is now just as important as electricity is to your business operations. It needs it to handle BIG volume, reliably and securely. 5G is going to help a lot of mid-market business accomplish this fairly soon. There will still be local area network requirements, but having gigabit speeds available via LTE is going to level the network playing field to some degree.
Lastly, your business needs a healthy technology ecosystem where all of the participants are working together to make technology a strategic advantage. The focus should be on transparency and collaboration. The ecosystem needs to support scale-able, repeatable and sustainable processes for technology selection, integration, acquisition, deployment, service and support. Most companies, especially big global corporations, should not attempt to create this ecosystem entirely in-house. It will take a tribe, and there should be a prime partner who is responsible for stewarding the ecosystem and ensuring it has all the resources and expertise necessary to ensure continued success.
What’s your vision for the future of your company and industry? How does technology play into that vision? Is your ecosystem ready?