The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Taking Distribution Into the Future with Technology

The technology options available today are nothing compared to what's coming.
Steve-Epner-84x84

What do Computer Insights, DDI, Distribution One, DMSi, Epicor, I.B.I.S., Infor, Microsoft, Mincron, SAP, Unilog and VAI all have in common with distributors? They want you to succeed. They want to be your partner. They want to provide your technology.

And they are all trying to figure out what is next.

On June 12, all of these companies are attending a Distribution Solutions Counsel meeting together with teams from Modern Distribution Management and Brown Smith Wallace to look into our crystal balls and discuss the future. We will look at the trends in distribution. We will look at the projections for business in the future. We will discuss the hot topics and try to predict what is coming around the corner.

This group of industry leaders is focused on your tomorrow. No one could run a business without automation today. It would be impossible. So we all need computers. The big question is what will we need them to do next?

There is so much technology on the test bench. I have seen automated warehouses that are capable of doing a full physical inventory count every night. Think about the possibilities.

What if you could check a truck before it left the shipping dock to verify it had completely loaded the inventory assigned to it? Imagine being warned if a wrong pallet was accidently loaded and being able to correct the situation before the truck pulled away.

There are new ways to transact business with less friction between trading partners. There are opportunities to predict future trends by integrating internal data and external databases. We are starting to “in-shore” assembly (the reverse of “off-shoring”). All of these possibilities will require your automation systems to be up to date.

Readers know I am in favor of minimizing modifications to software so that you can take advantage of new enhancements. Here is another reason to stay vanilla. As the changes start to flow, those who cannot upgrade their software will be left behind.

As distribution learns to compete with Amazon and three kids in a garage, they will need new tools. They will need to recognize what is coming. They will want to deal with vendors who are on top of the game.

Watch for a few blogs after the meeting. I will tell you what we learned, what is being predicted and give you some ideas of what to expect. Then you need to talk to your current vendor. Find out what they are doing. See how it will affect you. Take responsibility for your future and ask for the tools you will need and make sure they will be available when you need them.

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