Which IT Solutions for Business ?
Manufacturers or infact every company is struggling with falling demand and increasing pressure to cut cost. Some say that it is right time to invest and build platform for the growth and on the other hand some say just save cash and survive and you will have another day for growth and investment.
This blog is not for board room strategy but for the analyst and archictects who are challenged everyday to come with the solutions to help business address real-life issues. But with the economic downturn, everybody is asking for upfront saving and clear ROI.
So, here I want to attempt to define and start a conversation about broad solution which touches all important links of complete value chain. I know, it is not possible to talk about everything in one blog so a series of blogs makes more sense and that’s what I plan to do.
Now, I want to get more specific so I will take manufacturere here as CPG companies not only because I am more familiar with their value chain but also because they cover a broad range of processes used at manufacturing companies.
Reason to exist
The starting point for any company, startup or $20 billion established firm, giving products or services which its customer needs/requirements. For a CPG company, it means knowledge of what does its consumer wants. I am not suggesting literal brain mapping of thousands of potential consumers but for sure organization needs an efficient and effective ability to gain consumer insight and at the same time needs to be build capabilities to act on those as fast as possible and certainly faster than competition. Organization will also need an affective system to drive innovation, new product development and introuction based on changing customer needs.
Next question is that organization should be able to retain the customer and should be able to sell repeatedly. No matter what products you come with, competition will come with similar products in no time. Look around we have so many look alikes even of break through products such as iPhone and iPods. So organization needs an affective sales and marketing solution where it is able to brand, promote, sell and service.
The final piece of the puzzle is execution i.e. organization should have a reliable supply chain so that it is able to deliver on its promise. So a strong capability to anticipate, plan, execute, and respond is must. Once I was talking one of senior executive of fortune 500 company and he mentioned one thing that still reasonates with me, he said the core of any organization is its ability to execute and that is hard to replicate for any one. I don’t even worry a little about startegy as that can be easily copied or bought.
All the above three points are fundamental business issues and to overcome those as effective system is needed and that’s where IT comes in pictures. In most organizations, some form of working processes and IT solutions will existing and may need just a bit of tweaking for some but in many cases those little bits may not work. Since solutions and processes which have been designed using yesterday’s technological capabilities and limitations will not give you required competitive advantage in chaging market place.
Now moving back to role of IT in all these. Organization will need specific business solutions in those three areas but before that they will also solid foundational solution for building the required the required edge. The foundtion will include:
Strong master data management process and system for integration and collaboration
An ERP backbone for transaction processing
Reporting capability on real data
In the next blog, I want to talk about specific solutions which can help on those three fundamental issues. In the meantime, you can comment on what more should be added in the foundation part and otherwise.