Staples wants to grow through stronger customer relationships where the company anticipates needs and is prepared to meet them, says Mark Pickett, senior director for customer analytics. He says the "give the customer what they want" approach is insufficient today.
Acquisitions by distributors these days are usually about safely adding innovation from the outside rather than through internal development processes, said Brent Grover and Steve Samek. Grainger's early e-commerce investments and Arrow Electronics' media buy are two such examples.
There is often an insufficient supply of new products such as the iPhone X, which is scheduled to be released in October, for a variety of reasons including component sourcing, design issues and the difficulty of predicting demand, writes Christopher Mims. A global shortage of NAND memory components, which preserve data when a phone is turned off, is the type of factor that leads to shortages of new devices, he asserts.
It's unlikely that drones and self-driving cars will deliver last-mile packages soon, due in part to the inflexibility of fixed infrastructure. Key solutions to help reduce emissions, a major concern for cities, include urban warehouses, electric vehicles and load sharing, according to a report from McKinsey.
Amazon's logistics expansion is showing no signs of slowing as it continues to fulfill the growing demand for fast delivery of tens of millions of products ordered through its e-commerce website. Amazon now ships 1 billion parcels in the US each year and is using more of its own front-, middle- and back-end logistics network to move products.
Empire Co. posted a strong showing in its most recent quarter through an ongoing cost-reduction effort and the effects of food price inflation. "We still have significant work to do in all facets of our business, and we are obviously working to build more consistency in our sales and earnings improvements," CEO Michael Medline said.
Manufacturers using the internet of things and ever-expanding amounts of data should look at seven core principles, starting with simplicity, write Richard Kelly, Subu Narayanan and Mark Patel of McKinsey. Exploit the data that is already available first, and remember that the organization itself will need to make changes, they recommend.
The idea that data and visibility through digitalization will transform factories shouldn't override the fundamental importance of strong operating principles, Mark Humphlett of Infor asserts in this article. "Start your digital strategy by fine-tuning the operations in front of you and at the foundation of your business," he writes.
Cloud-based electronic access systems are superior to physical keys in three areas including safety, writes Steve Spatig of Southco. Manufacturers who acquire EAS solutions need to have a data-management strategy, he writes.
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