We live in a world where the line is blurring between the digital and the physical, and instantaneous service delivery is becoming ubiquitous. In an age of hyper personalization, convenience and information, customers expect what they want exactly when, where, and how they want it. Immediate gratification is the new norm. This on-demand economy continues to push what it means for enterprises to be “customer-driven,” and they must digitize operations to remain relevant and compete. Early attempts to address these needs sparked innovation at the core of the enterprise, but today innovation is exploding at “the edge” of business.
The edge is where we create seamless and frictionless customer experiences. From sales associates who delight shoppers with the items they want without leaving their side, warehouse workers who pick inventory so that the right things get to the right customers at the right time, and truck drivers who take the most direct and efficient route to get packages to recipients sooner.
Where we used to centralize operations, forward-thinking companies are now pushing resources and intelligence to the edge. For example, instead of sending all information to the cloud, now some of it can be transmitted nearby where it’s created. Think about how traditionally, inventory has been stored in warehouses, but as retailers gain better visibility into stock, ecommerce inventory can now be pulled from the local retail stores. Rather than waiting for a package to arrive, shoppers now have the option to pick up a purchase at a local brick-and-mortar location when and where it’s convenient.
In these demonstrations of smart environments at the edge, the employees making real-time decisions and interacting with the products and people they serve become even more critical to enhancing the customer experience. In today’s customer-centric business environment, front-line workers must be armed with the tools and data-driven insights to drive successful outcomes.
Within the supply chain, empowering employees with the latest technology and real-time insights helps companies gain a critical performance edge. Nearly all supply chain professionals we recently surveyed said that by 2020, they will use handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners to attain omnichannel logistics capabilities to meet customer expectations for speed, quality and performance.
In an era in which 78 percent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery, finding ways to digitally transform operations and empower employees with intelligence at the edge has never been more important.
Innovation is happening in front of our eyes, but forward-thinking companies are looking ahead to what’s next in the on-demand economy and creating flawless customer experiences at the edge. Those who don’t will be left behind.