Previously, we looked at Mark Burstein’s first two responses to just-style’s Apparel Software Trends Management Briefing. The briefings focused on four topics that affect apparel and fashion producers: Tools to Tackle the Issues, Where to Focus Future Spend, What Else to Watch and Key Supply Chain Challenges.
In this second installment of a two-part blog series, Mark shares his thoughts on the final two topics from just-style.
JS: What else is likely to be topping the apparel industry’s technology agenda this year?
MB: Self-service Business Intelligence – “actionable intelligence” – can help companies react quickly to data and analytics. As Gartner notes in its Feb. 2016 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics, the balance of power has shifted from IT to the business, and that is empowering apparel companies with a new generation of easy-to-use tools for insight and action. Rather than look at KPIs and weekly trends, apparel executives can gain real-time understanding and take immediate action. Given the speed at which the fashion industry moves today, these new tools can help companies take advantage of immediate opportunities and react quickly to problems and challenges.
Mobility continues to see new and innovative applications, too. Designers can snap photos of the latest fashions in a Paris window display and immediately share them via the PLM system with their design team in New York or LA, bringing fresh inspiration to collections in real-time. Companies are now using mobile devices for scanning and packing, quality inspection, factory inspections and a growing number of supply chain functions. There’s a tremendous amount of innovation in mobile technology, and it should be a part of every brand and retailer’s technology agenda.
JS: What are the biggest challenges facing the global apparel supply chain in 2016?
MB: Business silos in the apparel supply chain are a big barrier to operational performance and profitability. It’s an omnichannel world, yet retailers and brands have made surprisingly little progress in connecting the silos of information in their organization. A recent study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that only 18 percent of the world’s leading companies have removed operational silos in their organization. Not surprisingly, those companies are significantly more profitable and competitive than the rest.
As the report noted, “companies that want to successfully compete with these leaders…must not only remove the business silos that prevent seamless operations, but also rapidly increase their investments in omnichannel capabilities before they fall further behind the omnichannel leaders. These actions will define retail winners and losers going forward.”
Real-time visibility across apparel supply chains is a big part of this. By removing the silos in their organizations, retailers and brands can help ensure that development and production deadlines are met and products arrive on time – ensuring they have the right products to meet customer demand in every channel. They can also ensure that products comply with all governmental and social regulations, are produced under safe working conditions, and meet or exceed quality standards. You can’t do this with siloed operations.