7 ways digital transformation adds value to F&B companies
By Mike Edgett, Director of Industry Marketing for Process Manufacturing, Infor
Tuesday, 27 February, 2018
In today’s marketplace, technology shouldn’t be an afterthought but instead it must be an integral part of a company’s overall strategy.
With system-wide modernisation in place, organisations can embark on building new ideas for products, packaging and reaching consumers. Companies can embrace digital tactics or be left on the sidelines as the competition rushes past.
Digital technology and disruptive innovations like the Internet of Things are transforming the way we do business. Organisations embracing these innovative technologies are using them to optimise their daily operations and hone their profit margins.
Here are seven ways to use digital transformation technologies to add value to your F&B company based in-part on a recent Constellation Research report, “Nine Entry Points to Digital Transformation in Manufacturing,” by R “Ray” Wang.
1. Embrace value-added services
‘Service’ means so much more than what we typically think of good customer service. It may be eliminating an onerous task, anticipating customers’ needs, managing a process for them from beginning to end, or streamlining your interactions with customers. Software solutions will help manage processes and streamline activities.
Online portals can be used to interact with consumers, distributors and channel partners. With modernised systems, these added customer-centric features can be relatively simple to provide, yet yield high returns in customer loyalty.
2. Improve the customer experience
It’s becoming increasingly important to build a distinct brand and stand out in your customer’s recognition.
Customers are looking for more information than can fit on a typical label including origin of each ingredient, GMO and more. Modern technology supports this flexibility. Customer experience suites, e-commerce and product lifecycle management solutions to manage development and labels, and tools for online portals are just some of the ways modern solutions can transform the customer experience into a point of differentiation.
3. Fine-tune supply and demand forecasting
Effectively managing inventory levels is one of the ways companies can optimise cash flow — without risking customer satisfaction. Accurately understanding customer needs, predicting seasonal demand and projecting logistical needs will help procurement managers with necessary resources to fulfil orders.
Companies which have invested in a modern, integrated ERP system with advanced analytics capabilities, as well as sophisticated supply, demand and inventory tools, will be best positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.
4. Leverage sensors to protect equipment value
Smart sensors can be used to monitor machine performance and identify anomalies, which may predict impending failure or maintenance needs. Acting as an early warning system, sensors can help keep machines running and extend the lifecycle of critical equipment. Sensors can also be used to monitor conditions throughout the supply chain — especially important for fresh ingredients in F&B — which require refrigeration or humidity control.
5. Optimise the marketing and sales processes
In the F&B industry, digital marketing is critical as companies need to align with consumers early and often. Understanding consumers’ taste preferences and desires for clean labels, healthy, non-GMO or organic offerings will shape the R&D process, as well as development of new products. Marketing tailored to niche markets will help build demand for specialised offerings.
6. Support suppliers and vertically integrated divisions with advanced tools
Organisations can benefit from new technologies, which make the technician more productive and well-informed, helping him or her to resolve maintenance and service orders in less time and with fewer trips back to the service centre. With a current shortage of skilled technicians, enhancing the ability of each technician is increasingly important.
7. Anytime, anywhere business
Connectivity helps workers who are always on the move, from purchasing managers to sales staff. Companies can make it easy for personnel to do business remotely, whenever the need arises. Whether it’s a sales rep who needs to update invoices in real time, a customer who wants to learn about calories in a product or a procurement specialist who needs to modify a purchase order on the fly, integrating mobile devices with core software helps organisations work more efficiently.
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