The end of one year brings with it a certain amount of crystal-ball gazing about the one to come. What lessons can be learned from the passing of the old year, and what new waves can be ridden in the one to come?
New technology is a constant theme when it comes to searching for efficiencies and gaining that elusive competitive edge.
According to Lewis Marston, CEO and founder of Rocket Consulting, mobility will be one of the key technologies to watch in 2015.
Hooking intelligent mobile devices up to vehicles can unleash a wealth of information, he claims.
“Data derived from mobile devices and connected businesses provides a feed for predictive analytics. For example, equipment and vehicle breakdowns can be anticipated, or a series of events that needs further investigation flagged. This enables organisations to convert unplanned, expensive maintenance into planned downtime, thereby improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
The importance of mobile for 2015 is echoed by Darshan Shankavaram, Deputy Leader of the Mobile Solutions Global Service Line and Centre of Excellence Lead at Capgemini, who says the broad theme for logistics networks is to be here and now for the customer.
“Mobile solutions can help retailers on two fronts, both delivering the right customer experience in store and out, while also managing their store operations effectively. This includes the logistics networks and ensuring that the right goods are stocked according to the customer demand.”
Shankavaram also has a list of the top themes he predicts will be big in retail logistics next year, which includes”
1) In-Store mobile transformation – will be a key step for retailers and showrooms – context based promotions, assisted checkout, Mobile PoS and Inventory management will play a key role. Location and context aware apps (big data based) will also gain more prominence.
2) Mobile vs. Desktop – The “app gap” will shrink – with a more mobile workforce, a noticeable gap between desktop and mobile has emerged. An increase in new types of efficiency apps for the enterprise – particularly used for intelligent task prioritisation that quickly finds and prioritize the tasks that matter most. This includes built-in intelligence that analyses and predicts user behaviour and preferences in order to personalise an employee’s unique experience.
3) Mobile and Internet of Things convergence will take off as the preferred systems for inventory management and field-force executives. Connected Cars and Building Automation will also see wider adoption.
Connected cars and smart buildings might seem like something from a far off future, if you’re struggling with more mundane headaches, day-in, day-out, though, and Marston takes a more pragmatic stance when it comes to some of the more cutting-edge technology choices in the market.
“There is a lot of discussion about future technologies such as drone deliveries and the Internet of Things,” he says. And while accepting that such developments are intrinsically interesting, and may have commercial applications, he cautions against too much excitement.
“In terms of concrete investments and immediate activity, our focus is on projects that deliver on mobility and connected businesses, collaboration and transportation, as organisations look to increase the efficiency of their supply chain to reduce costs and scale up customer service,” he continues.
“Many organisations will be looking to upgrade other elements of their supply chain such as supply chain planning and warehouse management. The key is that the supply chain is not viewed in isolation.”
One of the likely shake-ups following the 2014 end-of-year peak could be that of searching for alternatives. From different places to drop off deliveries, through to emerging businesses seeking to provide services that were hitherto impossible, change can be a double-edged sword.
Rocket’s Marston sees 2015 as a year of opportunity for smaller players and new market entrants.
“The new breed of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud based systems are levelling the playing field with solutions previously aimed at large enterprise now commercially viable to smaller businesses, thereby providing opportunities that have not previously been available to them.”
Only time will tell.