New technology is both useful and disruptive. As companies struggle to adapt to an ever-changing environment of one innovation after another, they should prepare for things that could have a huge impact on how they do business.
Here are five inventions that could radically change the way companies manage their inventory.
The world is going mobile. Instead of expecting an accountant or warehouse manager to sit at a computer and crunch numbers, businesses are starting to free them up to walk through a warehouse and check inventory counts, correct errors, and reorder items with a smartphone or tablet.
If each employee could use their own personal device to do inventory management tasks, that could also save the company money and save the workers time they would otherwise have to spend getting used to new hardware. This may present some data-security issues, but I’m sure they’ll get worked out.
2. 3D Printing
Imagine paying $50 for a prosthetic limb instead of $40,000. Or building an entire house without contracting the job out to a huge team of workers. What if you could manufacture replacement parts for your vehicle rather than going to a shop and waiting for deliveries to come in?
We’re just scratching the surface of what is possible with 3D printing technology. Brand-new organs created from someone’s cells could eliminate the need for donors, and printed food could be quicker and more cost-effective than growing it. How many lives could these save if they ever became practical?
And all of this would seriously change the way companies operate. Doctors, pharmaceutical companies, construction companies, repair shops, and many other businesses would have to rethink their roles in consumers’ affairs. They would likely become more advisers than providers, lending their expertise on implementation rather than production.
3. Google Glass
Google Glass, or something like it, could eventually turn into a hands-free barcode scanner. Imagine verbally asking for inventory counts on products you’re looking at and seeing real-time stats pop up to the side of your vision. Speed and accuracy without worrying about dropping expensive hardware – that sounds like a giant leap forward in warehouse management.
I talked about this extensively in another blog post. If deliveries could be made via drone rather than plane and truck, this could completely change the way companies handle supply chains, warehouses, and other aspects of their business.
Customers would learn to expect packages in hours or even minutes instead of days. This would speed everything up, forcing companies to automate many processes. It would be virtually impossible to keep managing inventory the old-fashioned way if drones became the main way to ship products to customers. Greater efficiency would be the name of the game.
5. Car Sharing
While not technically the invention of a new product, car sharing is a twist on the old concept of car ownership. Rather than purchasing a vehicle and maintaining it, some people prefer the flexibility of simply borrowing a car when and where they need it and then returning it when they’re done.
There are three main types of car sharing: Peer to Peer (individuals rent their cars out), B2C (companies rent their cars out), and Co-op (cities or other local organizations rent cars out). In all of these cases it is quite a logistical challenge to keep track of all of these vehicles and get the right vehicle into each customer’s hands exactly when they need it.
For rent-a-car companies, this is a significant change to how they’ve done business in the past. The idea continues to catch on in many countries, so it looks like companies with fleets of cars to rent out will need to keep upping their game.