Infographic: The Manufacturing & Distribution Technology Landscape
With the wide range of software solutions now available to businesses across industries, the technology landscape in manufacturing and distribution is not as clear-cut as it used to be.
While in the past, a “one-size-fits-all” mentality toward technology investment prevailed, companies today are looking into new best-of-breed technologies––especially low-risk, high-reward Software-as-a-Service solutions. Years ago, most manufacturers and distributors were largely dependent upon only their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Today, those ERP systems are falling short of key sales functions, and a host of other technologies are on the rise.
As a result, the manufacturing & distribution technology landscape of today is looking much more horizontal and varied than it used to, as visualized in this infographic.
This technology landscape can be divided into three major buckets:
The Manufacturing & Distribution Technology Landscape
1. Finance and Accounting
This includes ERP and Accounting solutions, which help businesses manage back office activities like payroll, product planning, materials management, and accounts receivable. These are the solutions that act as a kind of master ledger, allowing businesses to track and process transactions.
Interestingly, investments in these solutions are moving to the cloud, with cloud ERP investments expected to double, and 73% of SMBs having already invested in a cloud accounting solution, according to one survey.
2. Sales & Ordering
Sales and ordering solutions are definitely a newer addition to the manufacturing & distribution technology landscape. These solutions are powering sales on the front lines, both in-person and online.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions allow sales reps to keep track of customer interactions more easily (though interestingly, 43% of companies currently use less than half of the features offered by their CRM) and Mobile Order Writing applications are giving sales reps everything they need to make sales (from product catalogs and customer-specific pricing to customer contact information and order history)––all on a mobile device.
B2B eCommerce solutions are also allowing manufacturers and distributors to give their customers more autonomy in the ordering process, while also engaging those customers on a more constant and regular basis.
3. Supply Chain
Warehouse Management, Inventory Management, and Supply Chain Management systems are now enabling companies to better plan inventory and manage the flow of materials and goods through their supply chains. By 2018, 83% of organizations will pursue increased automation of supply chain processes.
Interestingly, while many of these functions were often handled by legacy ERP systems, that is quickly changing. In fact, 54% of warehouses today plan on investing in best-of-breed solutions.