Recently, many of our clients have been curious about improving their processes in order to create a more efficient and secure business. We’ve covered some ways you can do this previously, but for this post, we asked Andre Preoteasa, a leader in IT for beverage alcohol, to share some of his insight concerning technology in the three-tier system. We hope you find this post interesting and helpful!
Suppliers are the beginning of the three-tier system. It is, after all, where the brands come from in their identifiable image, sold to the distributor, who then resells it to the retailer, finally reaching the consumer. The supplier’s technology is responsible for facilitating the business of creating brands and ultimately selling these brands. To that end, standard office productivity software and communication tools mostly cover all of the supplier’s needs.
Technology plays an everyday role within suppliers, and is often overlooked and underappreciated. Where would we be without email? Or safe web browsers? Or files stored electronically? Or free video calls to anywhere in the world? Tomorrow’s technologies will be even more transformative as cloud services redefine how technology is delivered and our user experiences. Introducing these new and fast evolving technologies can be challenging for the IT professionals within a company and frustrating for the rest of the company if not done properly.
Businesses need value from what they spend, and money and technology are no different. Before spending a penny on technology, the IT leader should ask if it adds value. Does it make the sales team more productive? The marketing team more collaborative? The operations team in better control of their supply chain? Assuming the answer is yes, only then should it be introduced to the company.
Introduction requires forethought for new technologies to be successfully used. Generally speaking, technology falls into two categories: very easy or completely difficult! An inventory tracking system that looks and feels like Excel is easy, while a shipment reporting system that looks like Microsoft Project is completely difficult. Both will add value to the business, but to get to that point requires training.
Training’s importance in successfully bringing in new technology is understated. Trained users become productive users. Untrained users become easily frustrated. It’s that simple. When compassionate IT departments work directly to train employees, they will strive to eliminate frustrations and make the user experience as best as possible.
Training is then followed by providing support, sometimes in the form of a knowledge base (such as an internal Wikipedia) or vendor support reachable by phone. Whatever it may be, the IT department should be ready to assist questions and problems. This important aspect is how new technologies are truly absorbed into a company.
It is also important to replace technologies to reduce redundancies. For example, upgrading Microsoft Office requires phasing out the previous version. Otherwise, many employees simply do not use the new version and unfortunately at some point the older version must go and an even newer version comes in.
Thinking holistically when implementing new technologies aligns them with the business. Does the new office productivity software conflict with what your customers, in this case distributors, use? Does saving money with cheaper laptops (read: slower and heavier) dissuade potential employees from joining your company? The IT leader that introduces a Linux-based operating system that no one can use doesn’t last long, even if it saved a small supplier $20,000 in Windows licensing.
New technologies are fun. Some of the best ones not only add value to the company, but also keep things fresh. We are currently in a transitional period with technology affecting every aspect of life, often so quickly that it is hard to keep up. Effectively introducing new technologies should be a pillar of good IT policy in any company.
Andre Preoteasa is an IT Leader in Beverage Alcohol on the spirits side, currently with Castle Brands. Applying new technologies to a highly regulated industry, Andre is very aware of the challenges beverage alcohol companies face with staying on top of technology and finding value therein. You can read more of his content on his blog, or follow him on Twitter.