Data in the Cloud Expands Distribution Capabilities
Every industry has multiple reasons for using cloud, from reining in out-of-control technology spending to developing new kinds of functionality. Here are some of the use cases that make cloud the right infrastructure choice for the distribution industry (spoiler alert: it’s not about the infrastructure, it’s about the data).
Real-time data access.
With cloud, data and applications are available from anywhere. There’s no need to be in the office at your desk to access data for smart decision-making. With real-time access to inventory data, you can make better decisions and react to changes in demand more effectively. Analytics and AI help you find the insights you need to improve your processes and your customer service.
Better communication with partners.
Cloud-based access to warehouse and transportation management systems let your employees and partners communicate more effectively and select more cost-effective options. Real-time data sharing lets everyone know exactly where shipments are, when they’ll be delivered, and synchronize activities easily. Cloud based systems support integration with the services you depend on, including insurance, customs, finance, and carriers.
Improved equipment management.
Collect data about inventory, equipment, shipping, orders, and more; then use big data analytics programs in the cloud to manipulate and make sense of the mass of metrics.
How do you get started?
Choose the right cloud provider.
All of the top cloud providers offer reliable cloud service, so finding reasons to choose one instead of another requires really understanding your business and your needs. You can compare basic infrastructure offerings (compute services and storage) based on capacity and cost. If you know the kinds of applications you want to develop and deploy in the cloud, you can also distinguish the cloud providers by their frameworks and platform services. Cloud providers have offerings to help you develop analytics, mobile, artificial intelligence, database, internet of things, and other specific kinds of software, and these differentiate the providers far more than the basic infrastructure offerings. If you aren’t in a rush to get to cloud, take advantage of free trial offers to see which provider’s services meet your needs best.
Shifting to cloud is a big transition that shouldn’t be rushed. Take time to think through all the cloud migration steps. Don’t forget to allot time to test the cloud deployment or to define the exact cutover mechanism. Also don’t forget to invest in training your IT team to support the cloud. If there’s any impact on end users, even if it’s as small as changing the URL they go to in order to login to an application, allot time to train them as well.
Explore the possibilities.
Once you’ve got your core functionality running in the cloud, it’s time to consider how to leverage the new features of cloud. The use cases discussed above all require some level of digital transformation, making data and IT a more central part of your business processes and decision-making. This can be as big a cultural change as a technological change and requires thinking broadly about nontraditional ways of performing your function.
Get help making the transition to cloud from Prescient Solutions. As a Microsoft Partner, we provide expert support and managed services for Azure cloud. Our distribution industry experience leverages the full scope of technology to solve distribution’s IT challenges. Contact us to learn more about how to use the cloud to support your distribution business.