As my boys are glued to the TV this month, I cannot escape the incessant talk about March Madness! Outside of the times that I am being ignored when the games are on, our dinner conversations have involved the following topics of conversation: “Hey mom, did you see Hunter fall off his chair when Georgia State won with a buzzer beater?” or “Wow, I can’t believe Maryland lost… it was because they lost Trimble!” Heck, I’ve even learned what fadeaway is from one of the games last week.
Now as we enter into the excitement of the Final Four, I can say that our world of retail and supply chain is in our own madness – Mobile Madness, that is!
Mobility. We can’t escape it. It is everywhere… just like basketball is right now. As consumers, we are addicted to our smart phones. Whether we use it to check work email, keep up with friends and family through social media, researching or making purchases, or checking in for a flight, mobile options are a necessity in today’s demanding world.
As supply chain and retail practioners, there is no distinction in the expectation of mobility separating our personal lives from our work lives. Mobile offerings are enhancing, and in some cases replacing, historical enterprise software solutions that would require users to be at a desk.
So, in honor of March Madness, here is my final four picks in the world of enterprise mobility.
- Workforce Management – probably one of the easiest to identify, retail managers and associates are the perfect roles to be mobile. If store managers are not out on the floor, they are not helping sales. Whether it is the store manager reviewing schedules and tasks, the district manager reviewing store performance for prioritizing store visits, or the store employees accessing their schedules, time sheets and floor tasks, all store operations benefit from a higher level of efficiency, information and visibility at their mobile fingertips!
- Warehouse Management – a warehouse is a location of constant movement! Inventory receiving, dock and yard management, picking/packing and shipping, warehouse employees are in continuous movement to make sure the entire flow is smooth and optimized. Key personnel including the receiving clerk and shipping clerk need to be on the floor interacting with the team while coordinating these activities and ensuring accuracy. Having key visibility to information such as arriving trailers, planned shipments and expected volumes per shipment on a mobile device, these warehouse employees can see huge efficiency improvements!
- Buyer’s Assistant – if you can’t have a real-life assistant, a mobile device is a second best choice for a buyer! In the world of fashion, it is critical to capture ideas for future assortments as they occur. This doesn’t happen in the office – it happens on-stage at fashion shows, off-stage at the hotel or a café when reviewing notes, or in meetings with potential vendors. Having a mechanism to take photos of new fashion styles while occurring, and quickly capture key notes or add tags to the details, can help the buyer create appropriate placeholders for their future assortments, ensuring no details are forgotten along the way.
- Supply Chain Executives– keeping a pulse on the entire end-to-end supply chain, from forecasting and replenishment through warehousing and transportation, is no easy job! And that is exactly the challenge that today’s supply chain executives face. Today’s supply chain executives are out and about, and need access to key KPIs across the entire supply chain in a format that is easily accessible, without having to stitch together multiple reports.
Just like in the consumer world, mobility for supply chain and retail professionals is on the rise! In addition to my Final Four, there are countless opportunities to improve visibility, insights and efficiency by leveraging mobile capabilities within the enterprise. Knowing that all of these mobile apps have a specific usage for the role that the user plays within the retail or supply chain environment, I’m not going to pick my champion…. But I will say that badgers have always intrigued me. ENJOY THE MADNESS!!