Listen to the full podcast on Cloud Inventory’s website: https://www.cloudinventory.com/podcasts/bill-branit-podcast-optimize-manufacturing-operations-cloud-inventory
Full Transcription below:
Welcome to Enterprise Radio, the signature show of the Enterprise Podcast Network, featuring some of the most prominent business professionals in the world today. And now your host Eric Dye.
Eric: This is Eric Dye, and once again, welcome to Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network.
Today, we’re visiting with Mr. Mark Nix, Alliances and Strategic Solutions at Cloud Inventory. He’s also an expert in digital inventory management, frequently solving today’s supply chain challenges with Cloud Inventory.
Mr. Nix joins us to deconstruct the many benefits of leveraging the power of the cloud to manage inventory and what companies should do in preparation to go digital. Mr. Nix, thanks for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio.
Mark: Glad to be with you Eric.
Eric: So Mr. Nix, for starters, how have approaches to inventory management changed with the digital transformation currently underway? Let’s start there.
Mark: Eric in two words — velocity and agility. They’re both needed, not only to survive but to compete successfully in today’s marketplace. Historically, inventory management was looked at as something that was ERP concentric only and existed inside the four walls of an enterprise. Today’s world is full of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Organizations have been left with the baggage of fragmented and siloed systems that lack the needed tools that are required to gain a competitive edge.
Digital inventory management focuses on helping organizations gain visibility into the state, location and authenticity of their inventory across the enterprise and the typical legacy silos that may exist. The definition of inventory and where it is located across the enterprise has also evolved. It includes manufacturing materials, warehouse inventory and field inventory. The real key is that field inventory is the area that historically has been the toughest to control in the area where companies are finding their greatest profit leaks. Companies have everything from raw materials, finished goods, tools, equipment and project specific materials that are frequently only being tracked on spreadsheets. Cloud Inventory is designed to provide digital inventory management everywhere an enterprise has inventory.
Another cornerstone is understanding that it’s a broader range of workers that touch inventory across the enterprise. That makes mobile applications an integral part of digital inventory management. The user experience must be highly intuitive for the type of worker and their specific role in the organization.
Cloud Inventory low code platform insures streamline user experience for all parts of the business and the ability to capture high resolution inventory data, empowering better decisions and other information the user needs to collect to support their job. And finally, coming back inventory and agility. Organizations need the ability add inventorying nodes almost on the fly across the business, regardless of where they exist. Traditional systems frequently take weeks or months to accomplish this, and then there’s actually a lack of capabilities to collapse the node where needed.
Eric: Certainly, informative to kick things off here today and thanks for the leadoff. Now, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this push for digital? I’m sure it’s pushed it a little bit, but talk about that to us.
Mark: You know, Eric, it absolutely has. COVID has been a unique time for all of us globally. The pandemic has absolutely highlighted the need for continuous adaptation. This means that the digital transformation from manual to automated processes must be inherently flexible. Historically, the concept of best practice meant the creation of a monolithic process that would be deployed once to eliminate variations and errors. This simply is not good enough based on what we’ve seen the pandemic bring to us.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen business and consumer demand for products and services change almost daily sometimes. Numerous products that may have been in low demand almost immediately then become high demand and then reverse for others. You’ve got to be able to adapt to these changes.
During the pandemic one of our customers used Cloud Inventory to dramatically increase the throughput of their warehouse and shipping process. Today, they can ship within eight hours what historically took them over 24 hours. Similarly, another important concept that we’re all used to that of proof of delivery, that’s had to change dramatically. In the past, we were used to someone knocking on the door and getting a signature captured to prove that a project was delivered. Now, these transactions have to be touchless, but with the same integrity, but doing it in a different way. Now capturing an image of where a package was delivered, maybe in a business or outside of the business and the location attributes of where that image was captured to ensure its authenticity from an overall perspective.
Our approach to providing a low code platform has allowed Cloud Inventory customers to easily make these adaptations as needed to maintain and create new points of competitive advantage as the markets have changed. This is now the new norm that COVID has created for us going forward.
Eric: Yeah, no surprise how COVID has really had an impact on the push for digital. Again, no surprise here. Now, as companies continue to migrate towards digital inventory management, what are some of the key steps in preparation they should consider? I know there’s folks that are afraid get away from what they’re used to, talk to us about that from that aspect?
Mark: Well, you know Eric, I think you’ve highlighted a real key point. What they’re used to — they need to change that thinking. The first thing they need to do is to consider where their inventory exists, both inside the enterprise, but more importantly, outside the enterprise. They can’t allow their thinking to be bound based on the historical limitations of their legacy inventory management systems. Sometimes this is challenging. For example, where are there points of leakage? Where are they losing inventory? What kinds of work arounds have their workers been employing to make up for system inefficiencies?
There’s some crazy examples that happened out there every single day and we see over and over again. One of my favorite are project intensive industries and their related business processes. Workers know how to make up for inefficiencies from a process standpoint and focus on the areas that they have been targeted in increasing. It’s a regular practice that procurement team members will over buy materials to make up for inadequacies that they know take place out in the field. They’re out there trying to gain where they know shortages will take place, where they typically lose inventory in the field. Maybe there’s a particular yard where they regularly have shortages, they’ll purposely over buy, to make sure that they address their number one goal, that they never have idle laborers and that the project is completed on time. Maybe they need that inventory, but maybe they don’t. And if they didn’t need that inventory, it’s frequently not tracked.
Every enterprise today has this gaming taking place where employees are hedging inventory and over buying. The more people, the more locations you have, it increases the points for employee hedging.
So another point to consider is who are the users that are touching that inventory? And what type of user experience do they need from an interaction standpoint to properly complete a transaction. It’s something that’s complex for a worker in the role, the probability is frankly they won’t do it and the adoption level of new business processes will be lower. So this is an area where the value of a mobile low code platform can come into play to help ensure that new processes will be adapted.
And finally, you really want to look across the boundaries of all parts of your enterprise and realize that there are artificial walls that you’ve been dealing with in the past and you need to be willing to look past these silos. This is something that digital inventory management by its nature is designed to address and to help really remove those historical limitations.
Eric: Certainly do appreciate your feedback on that per your expertise, and folks you definitely need to get moving towards digital ASAP. You just heard it from the source today, We’re speaking with Mark Nix, Senior Vice President of Alliances and Strategic Solutions at Cloud Inventory and an expert in digital inventory management. He’s joined us here today on Enterprise Radio, part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network.
Now, Mr. Nix, how does digital inventory management help meet customer demands? Let’s talk about that side of the coin.
Mark: That’s a great question. Customer demands are changing dramatically when they extend out past the four walls of the enterprise. They’re by nature different. Digital inventory management is designed to address these differences. We use the phrase “inventory in the wild” to describe the fact there are less controls. For example, you need to be able to support disconnected activity when mobile devices out in the field don’t have connectivity.
And as I previously mentioned, adoption is really important to ensure that you get quick ROI, and therefore the solutions have to be easy to use. So Cloud Inventory focuses on four pillars to ensure the delivery of high value, their productivity compliance, inventory optimization, revenue generation.
So let’s step through each of those quickly. We developed Cloud Inventory specifically to manage inventory in the digital economy. The low code platform in our library of applications allow businesses to be able to use the applications either directly out of the box or develop applications that will provide them a competitive differentiation as business requirements change.
Inventory optimization means that all of your supply chain gets digitized and automated and is entered into our cloud inventory system of record, ensuring accuracy, accessibility to the information quickly at all times. Productivity occurs as the result of the optimization of inventory so that workers are less burdened with manually entering data or wasting time tracking down supplies in the warehouse, or more importantly in the field. Compliance is critical because it refers to meeting certain standards of any given industry, whether it be for medical devices or precise construction parameters for building supplies, etc.
Finally, revenue generation means making your supply chain so efficient that you’re enabled to generate the process very quickly. So, for example, as I pointed out, taking a process that may have taken 24 hours to ship and optimizing that to be under eight hours.
Eric: Mr. Nix, really appreciate all the information and insight shared here today on behalf of Cloud Inventory. Lastly, I’m hearing a continual theme of inventory outside of the four walls. What’s different about that? Let’s wrap things up with that.
Mark: Well, today’s inventory is always on the move in a greater way than it ever has been in the past. So you need the ability to control your inventory without the boundaries of your warehouse walls every day. A higher and higher percentage of an enterprise’s inventory is in the field. It could be van stock for with forward stocking locations, job sites, consignment locations. Digital inventory management ensures that you have the same kinds of controls that you would inside the four walls out into the field where device connectivity can be lacking at any moment.
For example, take into account the situation of tracking medical supplies from production, all the way to the storage of a hospital. That can make a difference in a life or death scenario. And cloud inventory tracks that inventory from the warehouse, to the sales representative trunk stock to the hospital’s inventory consignment locations. Cloud Inventory also ensures inventory accuracy offline by scanning images of inventory, chewing up and tracking the work that takes place and updating and synchronizing that supply information.
Because the reality is, that wifi and cell phone reception frequently isn’t available. There’s a certain amount of a fallacy that 5G will save the world and it will always be connected. That’s simply not the case from a business perspective. 5G doesn’t address the fact that I might be in a steel freight container or in a rural part of the country or in the basement of the building where connectivity simply doesn’t exist. One of the companies that we’ve provided a solution for is Marek, an interior construction company based in Houston, Texas.
Their workers use tools of any given size across a variety of work sites. Previously, they used a manual system to check out their tools, they were not able to track the location of their tools real time. What Cloud Inventory has allowed Marek workers to do is to have the capability to check out the tools for themselves, rather than get the tools assigned to them. This ensures self sufficiency out in the field and improved productivity. Cloud Inventory has also allowed them to track where any given tool is at any point in time, hence better control of inventory in the wild.
Eric: Mr. Nix really appreciate your time spent with us here today and all the information and insight shared. Once again, thank you so much and for what you do on behalf of Cloud Inventory. Where can listeners tap into Cloud Inventory and also be in touch accordingly?
Mark: Well, Eric, thanks for asking. So if your listeners would like to get more information on Cloud Inventory, they can visit www.cloudinventory.com and they can click on the request a demo button and receive a live solution demonstration.
Eric: And of course you certainly can’t beat that and we’ll leave that link within the shout out to this broadcast to further aid the audience as well. Again, Mr. Nix, all the best and thanks for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio, certainly appreciated your time today.
Mark: I appreciate so much Eric, you have a great what I hope will be for you ultimately a long weekend.
Eric: And thank you sir, we appreciate that. We’ve been speaking with Mr. Martin Nix, Senior Vice President of Alliances and Strategic Solutions at Cloud Inventory. And once again for all the details, visit cloudinventory.com.
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