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By Sean Barbera • November 20, 2020

Are You Needs-Blind?

There are many reasons why humans rule over the earth and haven’t yet extinguished the species: We’re highly adaptable. When there’s a problem, we fix it. Or we adapt.
 
This adaptation often is a positive trait, but it also can be a problem. While adapting to a chronic illness or a harsh environment helps us move forward, it also enables us to live with things that really aren’t working. Look at an abusive marriage, for instance. Or your current inventory software.
 
Often businesses suffer through systems and processes that seem acceptable but really are not. One reason for this is our inherent adaptability; there’s a clear need, but we’ve gotten so used the problems that we barely even notice there is a better way that exists. So we suffer through these issues and leave them unresolved. We’re blind to what a fresh pair of eyes would clearly consider an unmet need with an easy solution.
 
With that in mind, here are four common needs that businesses face but often leave unaddressed. There’s a good solution out there, but we’ve grown so accustomed to the dysfunction that it hardly looks like a problem anymore. But it is.
 
1. Poor Mobile Capabilities
 
This is 2020. During a time of pandemic. Yet strangely, many businesses still put up with backend systems that aren’t easily accessible from mobile devices.
 
The worst offenders are systems that basically cannot be accessed outside the office, but the most pernicious are systems that can be accessed via a browser but barely function from mobile device.
 
Workers are more mobile than ever, and they rely on their smartphones. This is also the age of the cloud, when all software solutions (ERP included) are available from anywhere and absolutely should be easy to use and access from mobile devices.
 
Businesses that still have poor access to their data and processes via mobile devices have learned to live with something that shouldn’t be happening in 2020.
 
2. Manual Data Entry
 
There was a time when typing in data, be it sales or financial transactions, was a core part of business. Many offices were basically built around it, and it gave every worker the sense they were “doing something” at work.
 
Manual data entry mostly died with the smartphone revolution, however, and the signs that its days were numbered began with the internet revolution when connecting systems became substantially easier.
 
Employees shouldn’t be manually entering data any longer, not with QR codes, an interconnected weave of cloud-based computer systems, AI-powered image and optical character recognition, and other modern technologies.
 
Businesses that still are entering data by hand have gotten used to something that doesn’t need to happen any longer. That drudgery and opportunity for data entry errors is largely a task that no longer needs to exist.
 
3. Data Silos
 
Nobody likes a data silo and systems that fail to talk with each other. But many businesses put up with it, the legacy of a previous generation of software that came of age before the Internet and open standards that allow for easy data sharing.
 
Siloed, inaccessible corporate and operational data has been a problem for so long, many of us have gotten used to it. Especially if we’re not a Millennial. We expect everything to connect in our personal computing life, with easy sharing buttons and cloud apps that all talk to each other in some way. But on the corporate side, we still put up with siloed data in many cases.
 
We shouldn’t. Cloud-based ERP solutions can serve as a central repository for all business data, and where a patchwork of systems are needed there now are integrations and APIs that still connect all of a company’s data. Putting up with data silos is us having gotten used to something when there is now a better way.
 
4. Limited Operational Visibility
 
Until recently, a certain measure of operational opacity made sense. Sales teams couldn’t fully report sales until they got back to the office. Stores updated inventory and sales data periodically. Warehouses and manufacturing facilities tracked production and inventory, but reporting accurately on it took time. Work was done, then reports were generated.
 
Real-time visibility is much more accurate and actionable than historical data, however, and again businesses now have the tools for this level of operational visibility. With cloud-based systems and both mobile and Internet-enabled devices, instantaneous data with real-time reporting is possible.
 
Some businesses have this real-time visibility already, especially in the cloud services industry and among startups. But the vast majority of businesses still rely on historical data for planning and decision-making. We’ve gotten used to it, so it seems normal even while our competitors are making decisions faster and more reliably with real-time data.
 
These are just a few of the many places where businesses today have gotten used to problems that have clear solutions right now.
 
Where is your business needs-blind? Can you spot the needs of your business that only exist today because you and your company have gotten used to them?
 
If you’d like help uncovering some of those, contact one of our ERP consultants at (801) 642-0123 or info@nbs-us.com.