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Tuesday 24th November 2015
by John Casey

John Casey

Why is an effective IT infrastructure vital for FMCGs?

Companies in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry are faced with strong competition, high customer expectations, increasingly restrictive regulations, and process consolidation. In order to succeed, FMCG companies must be at the forefront of modern day technology and have efficient processes.

Many FMCG companies are struggling to keep up with the changes to their multi-channel operations because their infrastructure simply can’t cope. In order to remain competitive organisations must invest in the right IT Infrastructure from a knowledgeable and reliable IT service provider.

How a knowledgeable IT partner can support your future growth

The FMCG industry is a diverse and very competitive market, as a result companies are looking to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Technology is now a key driver in reducing the production costs and transforming how the FMCG industry operates. There are a number of information technology providers and systems out there but do they have experience in this industry? The right IT partner should have a strong understanding of the complex product lifecycle and delivery approaches that typically come with FMCG projects.

It’s paramount that the infrastructure is built so it’s fit for purpose and supports the critical business functions. We’ve listed below a number of key benefits that a well built IT infrastructure can bring.

1. Maintain a competitive edge

A good IT service provider should conduct a 360 audit of the current IT environment that focuses on the connection between the business products and applications that integrate with the infrastructure. This helps both parties to understand how to restructure a future proofed infrastructure that will support the business moving forward.

Due to the very size of a FMCGs IT network, it’s not surprising that a number of companies still operate on legacy systems. There is a growing need for FMCG companies to move from old legacy systems to robust and efficient systems that streamline the manufacturing process. The product life cycles and changing demands from the consumer means that the IT infrastructure needs to be agile to respond quickly to change.

2. Get Your Products to The Market Quicker

FMCG companies require a flexible infrastructure that is able to scale up and down depending on the demands of the business. This scalability allows products to be launched into the market quicker and efficiently ensuring you stay ahead of the competition.

As previously discussed, developing a flexible roadmap that is designed to incorporate new technologies allows you to be responsive to the changes within your market and technology changes.

3. Improve Productivity and Capacity

Keeping ahead of the competition is key for any business, but this becomes a greater challenge when you operate in a fast paced industry. By its very nature, the FMCG industry it is one of the fastest growing segments and so speed and capacity are key.

Powerful infrastructure that supports your supply chain management software helps to improve the efficiency of factories, machinery, warehousing and your entire distribution system. Secondly, a well managed infrastructure will help you enable your workforce and improve business agility.

4. Build Tighter Security

With the rise in mobile technology, this brings an influx of new security threats. FMCG companies hold a vast amount of confidential consumer data, making them very susceptible to cyber attacks. Companies need a managed it provider that understands the challenges associated with protecting large amounts of internal and external data from a variety of sources.

5. Access to Real Time Information

The majority of FMCG companies have reps who work remotely using laptops, tablets and smartphones for taking orders. These orders typically come via Sales Force Automation apps, so accessing account information on demand is vital. The information for these apps can be downloaded overnight or accessed in real time from on-premise / the cloud.  Either way, updates from the SFA apps like sale orders, will be real time. This demands that the underlying IT infrastructure is robust and provides fast access to information.

6. Reduce System Downtime

Reliability and performance are key KPI metrics for many FMCG companies. These companies demand higher availability for their critical applications. System downtime in FMCG must be kept at a minimum to ensure that if there is an incident, recovery must be very fast which demands a very good business continuity / DR strategy and systems.

IT providers must ensure they develop an infrastructure that reduces risk and ensure continuous uptime.

7. Increase End User Satisfaction

The primary goal of the IT infrastructure is to be built to ensure it’s easy for users to access their data and is user friendly. Having a robust and reliable infrastructure that effectively supports all of your applications helps improve end user satisfaction and helps to reduces support calls. Reducing disruption to end users

8. Fast Storage And Data Processing Power

FMCG companies have large volumes of data from a variety of sources such as point of sale data, that require substantial data storage facilities. There’s a big drive in the industry towards business analytics, social media analytics and predictive analytics; all of which drive demand for fast storage and data processing power.

The IT environment should be built so that you have access to a traceable record of data.

9. Full Visibility of Assets

CIOs and business leaders need real time visibility over their assets so they can make informed decisions. Your service provider should give you on demand access to your data to help you drive business growth and respond to changes quicker. Seamless integration of your assets means you have access to a lot of data on your entire environment, meaning you can implement changes before you lose the edge

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