How Digital Transformation and Automation Will Help Against New Disruptions
Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach nearly $5 trillion this year. Needless to say, that growth is having a major impact on supply chains, making efficient operation more important than ever.
Conexiom is a sales automation vendor with a front-row seat to the growth of online sales. In a recent blog, CEO Ray Grady described “four predictions that will redefine manufacturing and distribution in 2021.” We caught up with Grady to learn more about this and get his thoughts on supply chain resilience.
SCBP: What have organizations learned about supply chain resiliency in the past year?
Ray Grady: Organizations learned more than they might have ever thought they would about the importance of their own resilience in the face of a global pandemic. They had to deal with an array of factors outside the normally felt hardships, including increased orders, customer inquiries, shipping delays, government regulations and remote workforce dynamics. This was no easy task — especially for companies with outdated technology and processes.
In the past year, digital transformation and automation were at the forefront of manufacturing leaders’ minds. This type of technology adoption and fundamental change will keep organizations up and running should more disruption come in the future.
SCBP: How can they prepare their supply chain operations to withstand the next big disruption?
Grady: Manufacturers and distributors should prepare their supply chain operations for future disruption with automation that not only takes repetitive work off of customer service reps but also generates continuous ROI.
The automation doesn’t have to be as drastic as removing a human from a process end-to-end. Rather, the automation needs to take redundant work from the human so the human can focus on more value-adding activities for the customer.
SCBP: Have more companies come to see the value of digitalization/automation? What concerns or misunderstandings might be holding them back?
Grady: Some companies certainly still have trouble seeing the value of automation for a variety of reasons. In the past, I’ve heard many customers say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Or, there are concerns about the cost of a solution or who will own the project.
While these objections are important, organizations have to focus on future-proofing their critical business processes and the primary way to do so is through digitization. For example, one of our customers reported seeing full ROI in less than a year.
SCBP: Give us an example of how automation helped a client make improvements to their supply chain operations.
Grady: A perfect example of this is our client, Genpak, a foodservice packaging manufacturer. Before the pandemic hit, Genpak implemented Conexiom to automate its manual order process.
The benefits of sales order automation were apparent right away — particularly for Genpak’s customer service representatives [CSRs]. Through touchless order processing, Genpak’s CSRs reclaimed 75 hours per week that they reallocated to helping customers instead of manually entering sales orders.
Genpak was lucky to automate when it did. As the pandemic proved to not be a simple two-week shut-down, restaurants capitalized on to-go and delivery orders, each requiring Genpak’s foodservice containers and dinnerware. Implementing sales order automation before COVID-19 hit proved to aid Genpak’s resiliency to come out on top through the pandemic.
SCBP: You have blogged about factors that are redefining manufacturing and distribution. Which of them is likely to have the greatest impact on supply chain professionals in 2021?
Grady: Of my four predictions, I think creating an excellent customer experience will have the greatest impact on the supply chain. It’s about being there for customers even when their businesses are interrupted. It’s about being stronger, better, faster and more efficient for them.
The organizations that keep this at the forefront of their digital transformation strategies will come out ahead in 2021 and beyond.