Global volatility demands modern, flexible IT for greater agility

Profile picture for user Massimo Capoccia By Massimo Capoccia January 8, 2019
To cope with change and global volatility, enterprises need modern, flexible IT that helps them achieve greater agility, writes Infor's Massimo Capoccia

Technology change, double exposure of male face and circuit board © Zapp2Photo - shutterstock
Market changes are coming at a lightning-fast rate of change. And, it’s not just at an industry or national level. Global volatility is adding to the pressures enterprises face today. From uncertainty about the impact of US-China tariffs to speculation about which country may leave the EU next, political events around the globe are contributing to disruption. Like most challenges, this can either be a major stumbling point for businesses — or an opportunity. Agile organizations with highly flexible processes in place will be well-suited to react intelligently to evolving market conditions — bypassing competitors that are mired in indecision. Modern technology makes agility possible.

Where does it hurt?

Change isn’t always a bad thing. Market conditions, customer expectations, and pricing models naturally evolve. Addressing cyclical patterns is a normal part of business planning. But, today’s speed of change and global volatility are happening at such a phenomenal rate that coping has become difficult for some organizations — especially if they are struggling with outdated technology. The impact can be felt in many areas, including:

  • Drops in product pricing and increased risks of commoditization from global threats.
  • Changes in access to raw resources, as new trade agreements go into effect.
  • Fluctuation in global markets over the uncertain health of the European Union.
  • Reluctance to invest, as some economists forecast downward economic trends.
  • Supply chain complications, as global suppliers are influenced by trade tariffs.

Each of these global conditions influences companies — large and small. It can be argued that all companies are global in nature today. Modern ease of travel, speed of shipping, and access to data through the internet and smart phones have brought every corner of the globe within reach.

How does technology help?

The ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions is more important than ever. Fortunately, modern technology helps companies increase their agility and ability to cope with evolving conditions in a decisive way. Highly flexible solutions, deployed in the cloud, give companies the functionality they need to keep pace with IT innovation, incorporate digital thinking, deploy new types of data-centric business models, and communicate effectively with customers.

Technology solves complex world-market issues

Supply chain visibility – Trade agreements and tariffs have been making headlines for months, and likely will continue to do so. Access to raw resources is important to manufacturers making products. Access to consumers is important to distributors selling products. Supply chain visibility helps both groups. Modern solutions, which provide real-time views into location of shipments, help predict arrivals, re-route goods if needed, and analyze financial impact of delays. Managers can make well-informed decisions about purchases of goods, suppliers, routes, quantities, and costs.

Predictive analytics – Modern cloud-based analytics and business intelligence tools use advanced algorithms and data science to project likely outcomes based on patterns and Machine Learning. This ability to accurately forecast market trends and project demands gives companies insight into quickly evolving opportunities. When speed is essential, confidence in projections is important. Business users must have access to analytics, so they can make better decisions faster, without having to rely on IT.  Analytics don’t provide a crystal ball, but they help spot opportunities, which may have gone unnoticed.

Automation – Increasing productivity and efficiency are necessary to all industries competing in a global market where price can be an influencer. Automation is the key. This can be as simple as streamlining administrative tasks or as complex as incorporating robotics in a factory shop floor. Companies that fall behind in automation risk higher operational costs and thinner margins. Besides the financial risk, lack of automation can also slow response time — highly dangerous in today’s marketplace.

Artificial intelligence – One of the most talked-about technologies today, AI has many practical use-cases now — and additional potential that is still being defined. Today, AI is being used in voice assistants, predictive analytics, and prescriptive Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems, which help keep assets running. AI spots patterns, identifies anomalies in large volumes of data, and predicts likely outcomes. Now is the time to explore proof-of-concept projects, take advantage of early wins, and exploit opportunities as an early adopter. Work with a solution consultant or solution provider that has proven experiences and can provide coaching on deployment methodology.

Workforce productivity – Skilled talent is at a premium, in nearly every industry. Companies often struggle to recruit and retain the workers they need, forcing the existing workforce to perform tasks as efficiently as possible. Workforce productivity is improved with easy-to-use IT tools which help define best practices, provide knowledgebase resources, push contextual information to the user, and support collaboration and training.

Time for action

The current volatility of global markets is likely to continue as ecommerce continues to expand and companies further embrace AI and robotics. Price, speed, and value will continue to be critical drivers in business — all issues that can be improved through technology. But, even more importantly, modern cloud-based technology provides the view and insights to make well-informed, bold decisions — the kind needed to remain a key player in a global market.