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3 ways retail benefits from cloud collaboration

Posted by Chad O'Connor  September 5, 2013 11:00 AM

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When operating any business especially retail and manufacturing, collaboration is always a key piece of the puzzle. But how do you effectively achieve collaboration when there are numerous collaborators and they’re all peppered across the globe?

The cloud is key. Cloud-based technologies enable companies to go far beyond the limitations of traditional collaboration by providing platforms for seamless project management that are accessible from any location.

Let’s use the example of “traceability,” or the ability to track ingredients or materials throughout a product’s lifecycle, to showcase the benefits of cloud-based collaboration. In this case, cloud-enabled collaboration platforms allow global stakeholders in a product’s lifecycle – from retailers, suppliers, laboratories, auditors,, packers and attorneys – to upload and access materials to and from a central location.

In the retail and manufacturing world, collaboration can be a challenge due to regulations, time constraints and budget cuts. Cloud-based collaboration can help ease many of these challenges and can ensure that all of the parties involved receive timely updates and information about the products in which they are involved.

1. Time-saving. Most retailers have a set timeframe to get their products from concept to consumer or farm to fork. Cloud-based, collaborative software can reduce product time-to-market by up to 20 percent. It streamlines processes by offering a central, accessible location where retailers and manufacturers can communicate and make changes to product specifications, manage quality and compliance and ensure product development workflow to avoid unnecessary and time-wasting confusion. When working against strict deadlines and collaborating with people across the world, cloud-based software can be a lifesaver.

2. Cost-Effective and Flexible. As companies grow, their amount of data grows. Building a new infrastructure every time you outgrow your previous infrastructure, and training everyone on these new technologies, is time intensive and costly. Cloud environments are flexible and scalable. Deploying a cloud environment – especially one powered by SaaS platforms - saves money for companies by minimizing the level of administration required with automation. These cost savings, combined with flexibility, make the cloud an ideal for organizations collaborating on a global scale.

3. Compliance. Cloud collaboration is one of the most effective ways to connect with multiple parties while ensuring compliance with ever-changing regulations. In the food industry, for example, compliance simply cannot be ignored. With the Center for Disease Control’s estimates of nearly 48 million cases of food borne illness each year, most retailers, manufacturers and grocers do not want to risk being associated with food crises, litigation and recalls that could be avoided. When dealing with a potential product or food crises, being able to trace the history, location and origin of an ingredient or material used to create a product will save retailers time and money in legal fees and lost revenue. It’s essential that all stakeholders be aware of changing regulations and recalls, and cloud’s real-time updates and alerts can ensure that this level of information is shared in a timely manner.

In the end, the approach is simple – cloud-based collaboration keeps everyone more informed and ensures an ease-of-use that’s imperative in today’s fast-paced world. Knowledge and speed results in cost-efficiencies, flexibility, and better compliance, and in a global industry like product lifecycle or supply chain management, that is the only way to do business.

Sahir Anand is Vice-President Global Corporate Marketing and Strategy at TraceOne, who relocated their headquarters to Boston last year.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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