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    November 1, 2023

    How Cloud Technology Can Make Distributors More Productive

    You’ve probably heard the Cloud is safer and faster, but can it make your distribution business more productive?

    A decade ago, we wondered if the Cloud was secure. Now, distribution businesses are more concerned about the risks of failing to modernize with Cloud applications. Many enterprise distributors have already sent their workloads into the Cloud. But are they reaping the benefits of their migration? Can Cloud technology make a distribution business more productive? 

    So many questions. But we also have answers that may surprise you. 

    What Do Distributors Say About the Cloud?

    Right now, distributors are looking for tools that can help them offset a persistent skilled-labor shortage in the industry, as well as meet growing customer expectations for a more efficient B2C-like experience in B2B. The answer to these challenges lies in solutions built for the Cloud. 

    We’ve seen many distributors who still have concerns about the cloud, especially when it comes to questions around pricing structures, how cloud ERP integrates with other applications, and the time and expense of training staff on the new system. Similarly, we’ve also fielded concerns from distributors about the process of moving to the cloud, especially related to data migration, implementation times, and data security during the transition. 

    In Distribution Strategy Group’s latest annual State of Technology in Distribution report, published in 2023, 93% of distributors have deployed an ERP, but only 54% are satisfied with their system.  

    Could their concerns be holding distributors back from reaping the true value of Cloud productivity? After all, across industries, McKinsey reports that 95% of the value of the Cloud comes from functions other than IT; real ROI is coming from automation and streamlined workflows.

    McKinsey says, “We see Cloud technology as being a way to drive agility and velocity—it gives companies the ability to deliver new services into production environments in such a way that customers can interact with new features and functionality on a much more regular basis.” 

    5 Key Ways the Cloud Can Increase Productivity in Distribution

    Embracing Cloud technology can revolutionize productivity for distributors in five critical ways:  

    1. Streamlined inventory management — Moving operations to the Cloud helps distributors maintain real-time visibility and control over their inventory. Cloud-based inventory management systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central enable accurate inventory tracking, allowing distributors to spot customer demand patterns and sales trends.

    The software optimizes inventory levels while minimizing stockouts or overstocking. Automating inventory processes lets distribution centers efficiently manage stock replenishment, improve order fulfillment rates and enhance overall productivity. 

    2. Enhanced collaboration and communication — Cloud-based platforms allow team members to easily share documents, performance reports and real-time data updates from any location. These tools allow for faster decision-making, reduce miscommunication and foster a more productive workforce. Cloud-enabled communication tools let employees stay connected, increasing overall efficiency.

    3. Scalability and flexibility —The Cloud lets distributors adapt quickly to changing market demands. As companies expand their networks or experience seasonal fluctuations, Cloud-based solutions scale up or down to meet evolving requirements. This flexibility eliminates the need for large upfront investments in hardware and infrastructure, enabling distributors to invest more resources into their core competencies and growth strategies.

    4. Data-driven decision making — By harnessing powerful Cloud-based analytics and reporting tools in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, distributors can access valuable insights from their integrated data sources. These analytics provide a deeper understanding of customer behavior, market trends and operational performance.

    Armed with data-driven intelligence, distributors can make informed decisions to optimize routes, streamline processes and allocate resources. This data-centric approach empowers teams to identify bottlenecks, predict demand fluctuations and improve overall productivity.

    5. Automation and workflow optimization — Cloud-based automation significantly boosts productivity. Repetitive tasks, such as order processing, tracking shipments and managing returns, can be automated through Cloud-powered workflows. Automation can also reduce manual errors, freeing valuable human resources to focus on strategic and value-added activities. Optimized workflows help distributors operate more efficiently, accelerate order fulfillment and deliver better customer service. 

    By leveraging these key advantages, distributors can gain a competitive edge, optimize their operations, and achieve higher levels of productivity and customer satisfaction.

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for Cloud Productivity 

    Let’s use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as a case for Cloud adoption. When appropriately applied, this technology is rocket fuel for a distribution business. Instead of simply serving as an IT upgrade, this software has real impact.

    Integrating siloed software systems into a unified whole 

    Using Microsoft to pull all the pieces of your technology infrastructure together has a very practical application:

    Automating manual processes. 

    That means your customer service reps can focus more on customers than entering data. Order entry gets faster. POs are automated for speedier fulfillment and inventory counts grow more accurate. Self-populating technology and automated workflows cut mistakes and speed up production. These are real benefits in real-time.

    Eliminating unnecessary costs (and cybersecurity risks) from on-premises infrastructure

    Distributors face barriers with on-premises applications. Servers crash, causing unexpected operations price spikes. Failing to upgrade software at the correct times increases cybersecurity risks.

    But these obstacles to future growth and scalability disappear within the Microsoft Cloud. Distributors avoid investing operating expenses in hardware or the staff monitoring these tools. It’s a win-win that’s hard to overlook.

    Learn how Enavate customer, Bestway Rentals, takes advantage of the benefits Cloud technology has to offer.


    Get the Full Bottom-Line Benefit of the Cloud with Enavate 

    Productivity is the holy grail of business. Streamlined processes lead to increased margins, a better customer experience and revenue growth.  

    Migrating to the Cloud can be done quickly and requires little input from your team, allowing them to focus on their work with minimal interruption. Enavate will help you understand your company’s current systems and what changes you need to make before moving forward.

    Contact an Enavate expert today to realize more value from your Cloud adoption. 

    Chris Lavelle

    Chris Lavelle serves as the Vice President and Pod Meister™ of Cloud Offerings and Strategy at Enavate. In this role, he is responsible for the Strategic Vision of Enavate’s Subscription and Cloud Offerings and ensures they are successfully brought to market. Prior to Enavate, Chris has spent the last 22 years in the Microsoft channel providing leadership and strategic direction to midsized Consulting Organizations supporting Application Development, BI&A, Collaboration, Security, Infrastructure, ERP, and Cloud Services. Chris has been a member of multiple Microsoft Partner Advisory Councils including the Microsoft Security PAC, and the Microsoft Infrastructure PAC, and has presented at multiple Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conferences.

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