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INFOCUS 2014: 5 Tech Takeaways That Should Drive Your Strategy

Posted by on December 10, 2014 3:25 pm

Although the show is geared toward Oracle JD Edwards users, several topics were discussed that are applicable to any enterprise. To help you focus (no pun intended) your tech priorities for 2015 and beyond, here are 5 key takeaways that need to be on your radar.

The Time to Mobile-Optimize Is Now

With mobile device adoption at an all-time high (and continually climbing), mobility almost seems to be a no-brainer. Yet there are a surprising number of companies that haven’t yet harnessed the power of a comprehensive mobile implementation to enable business process optimization, increased efficiency, increased engagement and a continued competitive advantage.

Our CTO, Gordon Van Huizen, introduced the INFOCUS audience to the mobile supply chain during a conference keynote. As the Mobile Supply Chain Company™, we’ve built our business on helping customers mobile-optimize their supply chains, and we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to consider mobility solutions if you don’t already have them implemented.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself (and your colleagues) this key question: What does mobile allow me to do that I couldn’t do before? From there, you’ll have a place to not only build an implementation strategy, but also assemble the tools and solutions you need to make that implementation a reality.

Think of how integral your mobile device has become to your day-to-day work. Don’t you want to leverage that power in a way that will benefit your entire company?

internet of things valueThe Industrial Internet of Things Is Here—And It Can Change the Way You Work

You can’t have a forward-looking tech discussion without including the Internet of Things (IoT), so it’s no surprise that IoT was another hot topic throughout this year’s INFOCUS. The conversation, however, is shifting away from a focus on consumer applications to encompass business implementation, which some refer to as the Industrial Internet of Things.

A primary catalyst for widespread Industrial IoT implementation is a changing marketplace, notably a significant price decrease in key IoT-enabling components like sensors. Side note: One INFOCUS attendee pointed out that sensors have seen a 6,000% price decrease, meaning it’s now affordable for companies to outfit equipment fleets and entire warehouses with these real-time info gatherers, an implementation that would have been cost prohibitive just a year or two ago.

Connectivity is now ubiquitous—and if your company isn’t aboard the Industrial IoT bandwagon, now’s the time to jump on. Consider what processes would benefit from connectivity and automation (and, by extension, what sort of data you want to capture—after all, that’s a key benefit of constant, real-time connectivity). Examples include asset maintenance, inventory management, performance monitoring and more. From there, you can make determinations about what equipment and technology you need to enable your company’s Industrial IoT microcosm.

The Cloud: Your New Digital Destination

The cloud is another one of those tech concepts that’s simple enough to grasp, yet when it comes to implementation—well, that’s an entirely different story. Just what is the cloud, anyway?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

The term “cloud computing” is one of those that’s used so frequently it can quickly lose its context. Instead, think of the cloud as a tool to enable your business to move faster, be more productive and achieve not-yet-realized results. And if you’re considering cloud implementation, view the cloud like you would any other tech implementation. Assess your company’s objectives and use that information to determine what you should put in the cloud. Examine ways you can maximize the potential of your enterprise software and look for opportunities to innovate and differentiate.

The cloud isn’t meant to replace your company’s existing technology portfolio. Instead, it’s a solution that leverages your current tech investments while introducing new capabilities that are key to enabling critical business imperatives like mobile-optimization.

augmented realityAugmented Reality: Change the Way You See the World

Widespread augmented reality (AR) implementation is still a couple of years away, but the business implications are already huge. Presenter Frank Jordan of ERP Suites likened the development of AR devices to PC development in the 80s. Yet given how quickly today’s tech evolution unfolds, this is the time for proactive exploration.

First, a quick primer. According to the all-powerful Google, AR is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”

One of the more prevalent AR examples today is Google Glass. Don a pair and you’ll see virtual information like email, apps and more displayed directly in your line of sight. And although Google Glass has received a rather chilly reception, the larger concept of AR is poised to have a big impact on how we work.

Consider, for example, the opportunity to create AR training materials for employees. Or gather remote employees together for an immersive conference or meeting. If you sell a product, you could create sophisticated 3D model images so that prospective customers could easily explore features and functions from their preferred device. And in that vein, entire catalogs could become AR tools, offering rich browsing experiences that put customers directly in the midst of a particular product line.

Before you get too caught up in the technology and perceived complexities of AR, remember this: It’s simply a new communication method, a way to tell a story or distribute information in a way that’s richer and more experiential than what we’ve been using. When you can simplify larger tech topics like AR, it becomes easier to not only understand them, but also spot opportunities for implementation.

Wearables: A Functional Fashion Statement with Huge Potential

A number of industries were represented at INFOCUS, many of which include some sort of manufacturing and distribution. It’s in these types of facilities that wearables offer exciting new functionality not only because of their capabilities, but also because they offer ambient intelligence. In other words, wearables are ever-present: there when you need them and unobtrusive when you don’t.

In essence, wearables are another connected device, which means you could easily connect them to your existing enterprise software with a solution that offers limitless integration opportunities with web services. Because they can be operated in hands-free mode, wearables are becoming an increasingly attractive and efficient option for warehouse and other facility workers. Imagine being able to quickly scan inventory, shipments, even equipment diagnostics simply with a glance from AR glasses. Or you could use a smartwatch to gather information or perform tasks without even having to touch the device, an ideal option for those who work with gloves or other safety equipment that makes direct device touch difficult or cumbersome.

As we mentioned before, now’s the time to examine your options. What processes could you streamline, improve and make more efficient? Could you incorporate wearables to get the work done faster? You don’t necessarily need to be in a race to implement a comprehensive wearables strategy right now, but itis the time to consider the possibilities so that you’re ready to incorporate the technology when appropriate.

We weren’t lying when we said INFOCUS was jam-packed with a wealth of insight and information! If you’re interested in more event highlights, head over to Twitter and take a look at the event hashtag, #JDEE1INFOCUS. And for frequently updated multimedia content about the aforementioned tech topics and much more, be sure to stop by and check out our newest project, #DSILabs.

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