Digital inventory management is all about leveraging innovative technology to help your business gain visibility into the state, location, and authenticity of its inventory across the enterprise. It spans legacy silos created by changes in business and disparate systems. While manual approaches to inventory management are prone to costly delays and human error, digital inventory management strategies use automation and cloud-based technology to optimize accuracy, efficiency, and responsiveness.
The definition of inventory and where it is located across the enterprise has evolved. It includes Manufacturing Materials™, Warehouse Inventory™, and Field Inventory™. Cloud Inventory® digital inventory management solutions can increase productivity and revenue generation in all these areas by providing real-time inventory visibility and control with an agile approach.
Extending Your Capabilities with Digital Inventory Management
Inventory management is transforming. The increasing adoption of digital inventory management approaches has led to a need for businesses to gain inventory velocity and agility to compete successfully in today’s marketplace.
Historically, inventory management strategies have been ERP-centric. Today’s world is full of mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, leaving businesses with the baggage of fragmented and siloed systems that lack the tools to provide a competitive edge.
These legacy systems tend to focus only on inventory within the four walls of an enterprise. Although, with the evolution of digital inventory management capabilities, organizations can now extend their inventory management approach to field environments. Inventory in the field has historically been the most difficult to control and has been a source of profit leaks for many companies. Companies end up using spreadsheets to track everything from raw materials, finished goods, tools, equipment, and project-specific materials in the field. These spreadsheets are not updated in real-time. Digital inventory management technology enables organizations to utilize a more mobile, accurate, and adaptable approach to managing this inventory.
Cloud Inventory is designed to provide digital inventory management everywhere an enterprise has inventory.
Demands change when managing Inventory in the Wild™, environments with low connectivity which are traditionally hard to control. Cloud Inventory’s mobile-first, cloud-based technology supports activity even when a mobile device does not have connectivity. It ensures inventory accuracy even when offline, by providing the convenience of mobile-first applications like warehouse workers have come to expect as the status quo. Managing inventory at the point of activity, rather than after-the-fact on paper, reduces material handling costs and optimizes inventory. Even though users can be off-the-grid, their transactions queue up. Those transactions are updated and synchronized when Wi-Fi or cell phone reception is available again. This allows businesses to maintain continuous visibility and control of inventory even in low-connectivity environments, avoiding costly delays and downtimes.
Digital inventory management strategies also enable businesses to account for a broader range of workers who touch the inventory across the enterprise. Mobile applications are an integral part of digital inventory management for field and warehouse environments. Mobile devices allow personnel to immediately capture and communicate data across the supply chain. To optimize user adoption, Cloud Inventory’s mobile applications can be personalized for the type of worker and their specific role in the organization. This technology, which emphasizes a streamlined user experience for all parts of the business and the ability to capture high-resolution inventory data, empowers better decision-making based on accuracy and efficient communication.
Finally, digital inventory management provides organizations with the ability to add inventory nodes as needed regardless of where they exist. By contrast, traditional systems frequently take weeks or months to accomplish this, then lack the capability to collapse the node when needed.
The Need for Agile Digital Inventory Management
In an ever-evolving digital marketplace, there is a need for continuous adaptation across the supply chain. Transitioning from manual to automated inventory management processes must be an inherently flexible process. In today’s challenging and unpredictable times, it is not good enough to deploy monolithic processes once to eliminate variation and error.
Demand for products and services may change quickly in a single market, as businesses and consumers adjust to new technologies and global events. To stay competitive, it is imperative that your business recognizes these shifts in demand early on, and that you possess the inventory management capabilities to efficiently adjust in response.
Digital inventory management can dramatically increase the throughput capabilities of warehouse and shipping processes. For example, one Cloud Inventory customer was able to quickly increase throughput to accommodate a sudden increase in customer demand. Today their customer fulfillment takes one-third the time it did previously.
Today, they can ship in 8 hours what was previously taking them more than 24 hours.
Cloud Inventory’s low-code digital inventory management solutions allow customers to easily make these kinds of adaptations as needed to maintain and create new points of competitive advantage as markets adapt to new challenges.
Preparing to Transition to Digital Inventory Management
To realize the benefits of a transition to a digital inventory management approach, it is crucial to first critically examine where your inventory exists, where the leakage is taking place, and what kinds of workarounds your workers are employing to make up for the system inefficacies.
These workarounds are prevalent in project-intensive industries. Procurement team members will often overbuy raw materials to make up for potential shortages that they know take place due to lost inventory on a project site. The goal is to reduce the number of idol laborers and ensure that the project is completed on time. However, hedging inventory in this way introduces unnecessary costs that could be eliminated by implementing digital inventory management strategies for a real-time accurate assessment of inventory levels and the control to prevent lost inventory.
It is also important to consider who the users that are touching your inventory are. What type of user experience do they need with their interaction in completing transactions? If something is complex for a worker in their role, the probability is that the adoption level will be lower. This is an area where the value of a mobile-first, low-code digital inventory management platform can come into play, as users can intuitively implement applications on a mobile device and quickly adapt as needed.
Digital inventory management solutions are designed to address historical limitations and provide your business with both increased inventory visibility and control. After assessing your particular supply chain needs, you can implement digital inventory management solutions that are tailored to your business to maintain a competitive edge in today’s evolving marketplace.