There is no question about it, technology has changed the industry of wholesale distribution, and it will continue to do so. If you are not already, you will soon be using these words – drones, IoT (Internet of Things), digitalization, e-commerce, M2M (machine to machine), big data, wearables, robotics, SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) – to discuss your business needs.
It is easy for business owners to get confused and overwhelmed by all the “you must have this now, and if you don’t you will fail” tech hype in the industry. Unfortunately, these feelings lead to bad decisions or no decisions. Some make rash, poorly informed choices – buying hardware/software they do not need, understand or use. Others delay making any choices – they still do not have an internet presence.
Fortunately, it does not have to be that way. Look at the last sentence of the first paragraph again. The two most important words in that sentence are not in the tech section, they are “needs” and “soon.” If you want to keep your operations up to date, while avoiding tech hype, those are the words to focus on.
Needs, not wants – The willingness to identify problems and the ability to fix them is still the gold standard for running a successful business. For example: tech can streamline processes and make your workforce more efficient, but only when coupled with good managers. If the real need is better owner and supervisor management skills technology will not fix the problem, no matter how much you want it to.
Soon, but not immediate – Timing is important, you are looking for the sweet spot of decision making. Unless you are very adept and interested in tech advances stick to the basics – let other, bigger, distributors take the lead. Let them look for new ways to go to market, spend a lot of money and make the mistakes. But, once they work it out, follow right behind.
Here are some questions to help you identify what your tech requirements really are.
What best practices do you need to stay competitive? What are your competitors using? What are your current and potential customers asking for? What does your supply chain expect? Do you have a tech problem or an operational one? Are you expecting a people problem to be solved by hardware or software? How can you use the systems you have more effectively?
Beware tech hype that promises too much and delivers too little. The basics of business success still apply – cut costs, increase productivity and efficiency, decrease waste and avoidable mistakes, grow revenue through existing and new customers and develop effective management skills. Tech is just a tool; it is up to you as to whether it makes your life easier or harder.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: