As market demands evolve, it is inevitable for many businesses to face expanding inventories and feel pressure to explore new markets. While not every company will need to offer new types of services entirely, it is likely that most will experience some kind of transformation in their inventories. As a result, order management can become rather complex as products and variations of every item must be kept in check.
So, what is the value of sophisticated order management technology? For custom T-shirt seller Farm Fresh clothing, it was five times previous revenue. As Internet Retailer associate editor Amy Dusto noted, 80 percent of the revenue increase could be linked directly to the adoption of order management software. Farm Fresh founder Matthew Morgan noted that sophisticated solutions are particularly valuable when it comes to bulk orders. Since his company offers each shirt in 15 styles and seven different sizes, the company's old system was insufficient for larger orders.
However, it is not just more accurate inventory tracking that has made order management software a source of revenue growth. The technology provides critical information through dashboards, which can be easily accessed through tablets and other mobile devices. As a result, sales representatives can show clients exactly how many and which types of products are available whether they're meeting at the office or at a cafe. If a client makes an order, the system also sends notification to warehouse staff so that inventory can be updated in real time.
The data-driven business
Cases like these highlight one of the core aspects of using data effectively in today's business environment. As organizations in all industries collect vast amounts of information, the challenge will be in making it easily accessible. While this does not mean that companies should send every piece of information through the big data pipeline, it does mean that business leaders will need to take a multi-faceted approach to managing critical information.
In Farm Fresh's case, adopting order management software with dashboards paved the way for streamlined data access and greater visibility over the company's inventory. It is this type of consideration that will drive data-driven success moving forward. As Gartner emphasized earlier this year, companies must start treating information as an asset in its own right.
"The bottom line is that not all information requires a big data approach," said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. "The new 'big data way' is not going to replace all other forms of information management. There is more room - and need - for experimentation in the area of 'information of innovation,' for instance with social media data, or by making processes more information-centric."
Treating information more like a business asset has a number of advantages. The first is that it encourages company leaders to treat data like any other investment. This will ultimately translate to a more comprehensive evaluation of solutions as organizations think not only about how much information they can collect but how employees will access it and draw insight.
The second benefit is that it encourages information sharing among partners. As Buytendijk explained, allowing others to access enterprise data encourages a back-and-forth exchange. This could lead to process improvements as companies witness how their partners use the information. It also means that analytics software has a wider range of sources from which to draw on.
Gartner warned that transitioning to an information-driven framework is not always easy. While IT and business processes are often treated separately, this can no longer be the case if companies want to maximize the value of their investments.
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