Your CIO Can Help You Navigate Through The Fog Of War

suresh

The tension was palpable in the war-room. The ground troops had captured 3 of the 5 strategic posts. Unless the remaining 2 posts were also captured all the victories could easily get reversed. The jets were all fueled up and armed to the teeth. Ready to clear the way for the ground troops to capture the 2 remaining posts.  But the Generals had no idea what to expect from the enemy those posts. How many troops do they have? Could the enemy call in reinforcements? What kind of fire-power do they possess? Time was running out.

Just then the Chief of Intelligence walked in. He was remarkably cool. The briefing started. “The enemy has 60 troops, short range assault rifles and 2 mid-range self-propelled artillery guns. No landmines but there are wire traps. A wireless link is the only mode of communication for these posts. Our jammers will be in action by 0500 hrs. And here’s the map with geo locations. Good luck gentlemen!

The story is apocryphal, but it represents a very real situation most enterprises face. The toughest challenge for today’s Business Executives is to deal with the very poor “visibility” across the supply chain especially in the “last mile”, where millions of retailers and thousands of distributors take the products to over a billion customers.

So, Mr. CXO, “Would you like to dramatically change the way your sales personnel and their “Generals” combat their daily battles in a tough marketplace?”  Your CIO can help.

The CIO’s landscape ….

Large enterprises have automated nearly all their internal functional areas, a process that started with the Y2K scare and spread across to other internal applications e.g. ERPs & CRMs dominating the IT landscape for enterprises.

But have all these investments given the enterprise the desired ‘real-time’ visibility to their markets and thereby a decisive advantage over its competition? Except for a few mega-companies like Walmart or GE, the answer is very likely to be an emphatic “NO!”

What does ‘real-time’ visibility mean?

1. Do you know what the share of your product in the retailer’s shelf is right NOW, across your market? How much stock lies in the retailer’s godown and in his delivery pipeline NOW? How long before there is a stock out? Did you lose any sales due to stock-outs?

2. What is the retailer’s customer footfall? His velocity of sales? Your share of the category? In what lots do customers buy your products?

3. What are the trends and insights about markets and products that you can provide to your marketing team in ‘real-time’?

The Path Ahead

Achieving visibility across the distribution chain is the innate need of every company regardless of its size. However, achieving this visibility in India has additional challenges that are unique to India –

- Over 95% of the sector is still unorganized

- These SME retailers have little or no technology in their shops

- Most supply chains tend to be run by distribution systems which are non-exclusive, hence a Principal at the top of the supply chain cannot drive change across his supply chain.

The coming to age of cloud computing and mobile technologies have given rise to B2B Platforms. These platforms consolidate and connect the entire retail supply chain - retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Everyone in the chain get actionable ‘Real-time’ business intelligence.

Imagine this, would you rather build a huge and expensive supply chain system and force your thousands of distributors and lakhs of retailers to use it? How would you like the option of just plugging into an ecosystem which has already aggregated your retailers and distributors? These kinds of platforms have just started coming into the market. Almost all of these are driven by niche startups.

CIOs can now connect their enterprises to these B2B platforms and solve their problems of visibility.  These platforms bring the entire supply chain on to a single platform, thereby provide real-time visibility and an ability to transact & collaborate with each other.

The problem of visibility has ended. Now an enterprise has a real-time view of its entire market across every shop. The fog of the “business” war has been cleared!