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The last few years have been chaotic for the supply chain, to say the least. Simply maintaining stability has been enough of a challenge, but distributors still need to grow and boost their bottom line, too. How can distributors hope to achieve those goals in the face of so much uncertainty—which figures to be here to stay, considering the overall state of the world?
Recent innovations in supply chain technology could provide the answer; but it’s not enough to simply “embrace tech.” Distributors need to focus their attention and efforts on specific technology that will provide the biggest payoffs for their companies. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most promising examples of new tech in the distribution space.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of tech that uses machine learning to continually improve its capabilities. You’ve no doubt heard all about AI in recent months, but it can be hard to separate the parlor tricks from the real deal business investments.
For distributors, AI-powered tools that can sift through massive product catalogs and track customer order behavior to make useful suggestions and remind customers when it’s time to reorder certain products are well worth the time, effort, and money necessary to implement them. For example, the Microsoft Dynamics Power Platform’s Business Intelligence offering includes the ability to integrate with AI-based Power Apps that can help you leverage your data and even automate tedious tasks that keep your team from adding as much value as they can.
Hear how Enavate views AI’s impact for distributors and manufacturers in our webinar with MDM, 3 Ways AI Impacts the Bottom Line for Distributors and Manufacturers.
Augmented reality (AR) may have gained popularity with games like Pokemon Go, but it’s useful for capturing a lot more than imaginary creatures. Distributors can also use it to capture more wallet share. With AR’s reality-enhancing features, distributors can keep up with inventory, track consumer demand, and deliver more robust training scenarios.
Supply chain management hasn’t embraced remote collaboration as quickly as other industries, but that’s not just out of a sense of tradition. It’s a hands-on job, and the kind of technology that would allow for meaningful work to be performed outside the warehouse floor just hasn’t existed. But with AR-equipped cameras, distributors can offer troubleshooting and maintenance services without anyone needing to board an airplane. That’s one way to distinguish yourself in the marketplace while also saving money.
Nearly every tech solution these days is tied to the Cloud, from ERP software to the futuristic-feeling offerings we’ve covered in this blog. When you can access all of your most important supply chain data, at any time, from anywhere in the world, your company can become exponentially more agile and adaptive. You can respond to shortages and holdups in real time and make more informed decisions. And in an age of increasingly crafty cybercriminals, the Cloud offers a level of security that on-premises, self-managed servers simply cannot. Distributors have a lot of data to keep track of and keep safe.
Learn more in this video: Why Do Distributors Migrate to the Cloud?
“Internet of Things” (IoT) is a term that describes the interconnectivity that companies have built into physical products over the last decade or so. Many homes now have internet-connected “smart” thermostats, speakers, and even doorbells.
For distributors, the IoT can lend its smarts to their supply chain management. For example, Amazon uses Wifi-enabled robots to track inventory and share order data with a central database. Distributors can also use IoT tech like facility tracking sensors to give precise delivery updates to their customers. And for distributors that offer mechanical products, they can even use a combination of IoT and machine learning to predict when parts will need to be replaced.
So, what technology should your distribution company invest in for the greatest return? It depends on your technological business case and what your supply chain operations are prepared to handle. We have blogs and guides that can help you dig a little deeper, but if you really want to explore the best ways to invest in tech, reach out to our team of experts today. We’ve helped many distributors embrace the future of supply chain management in the ways that make the most sense for them, and we can serve as your guides for your company’s digital transformation.