We are currently working with several retail and distribution clients that are being severely disrupted by technology innovators and industry behemoths. Companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Apple are forcing them to rethink their business models, supply chains, customer experience and other key components of their businesses.

For example, Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods, Walmart acquired e-commerce retailer Bonobos, and Apple announced yet another makeover of their iconic iPhone which has and will continue to change how we all interact with technology. These moves demonstrate that the lines between brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, the physical world, and technological worlds are all converging. This is a big reason why so many retail and distribution firms are hiring Panorama to help facilitate their digital transformation efforts to keep up.

Even for companies outside of retail, these three companies are examples of how external competitive pressures are putting your business behind the eight ball. Individuals using Amazon to purchase products for same-day delivery may be potential customers looking to purchase your organization’s products or services. In other words, individuals don’t have different expectations for how they interface with companies in their personal and professional lives.

If this sounds like bad news to your organization’s state of enterprise technology, there is a silver lining: it’s never too late to start transforming your business. Here are a few lessons to take away from these industry disruptors:

No Matter What Industry You’re in, the Rate of Technological Change is Accelerating

We recently worked with a business-to-business distributor of lawn care products. Although this industry niche may sound old school and unaffected by leading-edge technology, they are being as severely disrupted as many retailers. Their customers are demanding quicker and more transparent service. Their suppliers expect a more streamlined experience, and employees struggle to get comfortable with handheld technology and learning mainframe systems. If you don’t yet feel the pressures of these technology companies, you will.

Customer and Employee Expectations for Technology Interactions are Higher Than Ever

No matter who your customers are, they are not unaffected by technological advances in their personal lives. They use their smart phones to find information and make things easier in their personal lives, so why wouldn’t they expect the same when interfacing with your company? Same goes for employees. Millennials don’t know what life without technology feels like, so how could they possibly work at a company without streamlined and intuitive systems? Technology and e-commerce leaders are directly impacting your customers’ expectations for your business.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Customer Service, Supply Chains, Production Processes are More Streamlined Than Ever

Even if you think your industry is remaining pretty much the same, technology is raising the bar for how your internal and customer-facing processes should look. For example, we are working with a large, Fortune 500 steel manufacturing company to help define and implement a digital strategy to help them interface with their customers more effectively. They are in an industry about as far from technological innovation as you can get, so if their business is being impacted by companies such as Amazon, then chances are that yours is as well.

Data is Dead, but Business Intelligence and Predictive Analytics are Alive and Kicking

One of our current clients is a mid-size international retail chain. They have an extremely successful business model, but they haven’t cracked the code on how to integrate and make sense of all the customer data they collect. Many companies are in the same boat, with plenty of data to sift through, but little in the way of understanding, predicting, and making informed decisions to better their businesses. However, companies such as Amazon have underscored the importance and value of business intelligence and predictive analytics.

Digital Transformation = A Need for Organizational Change Management

Assuming you see the potential to engage in a digital transformation initiative to bolster your competitiveness, you will need to be prepared for change. A well-oiled organizational change management strategy, plan, and team will make the difference between success and failure. The technology part usually works out just fine, but employee adoption and changing business processes will be the bigger challenge.

You may not consider your organization in the same league as Amazon, Walmart, or Apple, but you can be certain that those businesses are impacting yours. What will you do to address those impacts?

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