As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 global health crisis, businesses of all types are attempting to adapt to a new set of challenges. Food Distribution operations, which had to adapt quickly to changing rules, regulations, and other circumstances during the worst of the pandemic are finding themselves stretched between continuing to operate in those new methods, while still trying to return to some semblance of normalcy.
Embracing technology, such as a modern ERP system, can help alleviate many of these challenges, but for various reasons many distributors are not prioritizing this facet of their business.
A recent IFDA poll asked companies to rate how their business approaches adopting new technology. 29.9 percent of respondents rated their adoption speed as “lagging”- a startling admission. Even more startling is the fact that although one third of respondents considered themselves ‘leaders’ in technology adoption none of the polled companies listed technology as a post-pandemic priority. This is especially surprising because upgrading technology can help deal with the vast majority of challenges these same companies are reporting, such as driver and labor shortages (34 percent of respondents), product shortages (18%), and non-traditional distribution (13%).
By not having a forward-thinking mindset many companies are missing a key point- modern technology can be a solution for the myriad difficulties food distributors face.
With tools to manage labor, inventory, and other costs a modern ERP solution touches every element of a businesses, especially the ones presenting challenges. A modern solution can also add value to companies in unexpected ways, including disaster mitigation.
“I am currently fully capable from my home office computer. The visibility and reporting at my fingertips are a lifesaver. I am homeschooling (the kids schools are closed for three weeks, maybe more) and running a multi-million-dollar company from home,” said Liza Palmer-Gipson, VP of Sales and Marketing for Palmer FoodService. “I have never been more thankful that we are on “the Cloud”. I have spoken to many fellow food service companies that are not as fortunate as we are simply due to the capabilities that Acumatica has given us. We would not be doing what we are doing right now without it,” she added.
Simply choosing to enact a new technology does not magically make a businesses problems go away. Businesses must be careful to implement the new technology thoughtfully, keeping a few key points in mind-
- Focus on flexibility, agility, and resilience, not efficiency: Rigidity within a company can cause headaches for everyone from executives to entry-level employees. Focus on adaptability and resilience, not hard numbers.
- Digital transformation must be fast-tracked: infrastructure upgrades to support the new, digital platform must be made a priority, even when spending in IT is usually down. Creating a detailed implementation plan for new and emerging technologies is vital- systems don’t succeed when implemented without a greater vision.
With continued growth expected in the areas of emerging technologies as COVID recovery continues, planning for and starting to implement those technologies is more important than ever. Training employees to be prepared for a hyper-connected, digital based future is vital. Creating a culture within the business that is pro-technology and pro-learning facilitates a positive, energetic workplace for employees at all levels.
While implementing new, forward thinking technologies can be costly, they should be viewed as an investment. While many companies are spread thin in the wake of the global health crisis, the advantages of a digital, modern business solution simply cannot be overlooked.