As we think about the new workforce, and the new blurring of lines between private and professional lives, there are two things we can be sure of:
- There is a lack of patience in this community when things are not exactly as they’d expect
- Their expectation that the apps and technology they’ll use will have a ‘cool factor’
Consequently, there is a need for companies to have amazing user experience as well as giving workers (instant) access to data or material that will help them work faster.
In taking a look at the new Dynamics AX, I’m struck by a couple of things that are going to help retailers in these areas. Desktop applications very quickly become dated today as tastes evolve, but having this cool work environment, coupled with task guides (no one reads instructions anymore) that show the steps and progress through a process, mean that our millennial workers will be zipping through processes faster than we can blink.
Couple this with the work we’ve done to incorporate Power BI visualizations into the workflow means that there’s no ‘alt tabbing’ to get to the data that help with the decisions, the data is right there. I can only imagine the speed at which users will get through their work. The extra terrific thing around this is the devices now being leveraged—with full HTML5 support, with a variety of form factors, users will be doing their work in all kinds of ways, whether logging in from desk, investigating data from the road, and even processing some work on their phone in between tweets!
The other area of empowerment I mentioned is ‘patience’. Retail has so many complex tasks, and there are some large amounts of time and money spent in retail for areas that have screamed for simplification. One area is the building (or rebuilding!) of new stores and point of service devices.
The installation, configuration, and deployment of these devices has ALWAYS been painful and the Dynamics AX R & D team has done a fantastic job addressing this. There are undoubtedly lots of things occurring beneath the surface o, but being able to create a new store or register, and then that triggering the files needed to build the device and automatically distributing it? If only I had this when I managed a team that had to do this daily, the savings in time would have been huge! This is a great example of transforming business faster.
There’s a lot more that has been done in areas like this to improve the flow of process, and give lots of flexibility to retailers and even the individual users in some respects, to tailor the process. Linked to this is the growing need for ‘retail execution’. This refers to the retailers’ need to structure the way that store visits, audits and follow-up occur. This may be brand owners visiting franchisees, or a retailer simply needing their area managers, auditors, and visual merchandisers to have a structured way of recording their visit, triggering actions based upon items in the visit, and using the data to drive the next interaction due to some form of non-compliance or the need for some ‘closer management’. CRM (used in its non- B2C way) is now being leveraged for exactly this. Of course it has the capabilities for managing a B2B sales process, but by being leveraged in this way, retailers are seeing HUGE advantages in response to visits, knowledge of mobile workers’ schedule. The follow up and actions based upon a visit spawning processes to remediate or improve a business is now automated. This is REALLY driving empowerment, as the human part of the visit can now be focused on the driving of business and less on the recording of actions.