Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Inventory Management and the Mobile, Social Cloud

I know, I know. "Inventory management" and "the mobile, social cloud" seem about as related as chalk and cheese. But hear me out (or whatever the literal equivalent is for readers of my blog).

It turns out that how well you manage inventories of the things customers buy is often the prime determinant of how those customers perceive that business. It doesn't matter how appealing it is to do business with you if you don't have or can't find what I want in a timely fashion.

It also turns out that how well your business leverages information technology (IT) directly affects how well it manages inventory. And that if yours is like many if not most businesses, 60 to 80 percent of your IT budget is being spent just to keep what you've got working. Which doesn't leave much room for innovation. Or even improvement to critical business processes such as delivering what customers want in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, your customers, partners, prospects, competitors and purchase influencers are all increasingly inhabitants of that mobile, social cloud. Which means your company has to be there too.

So what you and your company need is a way to free up more IT resources and to be able to channel more of these to the challenges of better infrastructure management.

Turns out cloud-based resources can help in both areas.

Cloud-based infrastructure management solutions and processes can help your company to automate and offload much of that stuff on which your company's spending most of its IT budget. This will free up dollars and human bandwidth to do other things.

And there are a growing range of premise-based, cloud-based and cloud-enabled inventory management solutions. You can find a great rundown of several of these in an article published by Inc. in May 2011. My favorite: Fishbowl Inventory. It integrates with Intuit's QuickBooks and offers options that can take a company from better inventory management to more and better sales, fulfillment and resource planning and management, as recently covered by eWeek.

Inventory management may sound boring, and often is boring when done manually or using traditional tools. But if you think about and act upon it as the business-critical performance metric it really is, and look to the cloud for help, inventory management could be the coolest challenge you take on in 2012 and beyond.

A Special Offer:
If you're interested in Fishbowl Inventory, drop a line to I've negotiated a relationship with the company that guarantees that every one of my readers who uses that e-mail address will get priority treatment and help getting started with their free trial of the software. And if you promise to share your feedback with me for possible inclusion in future blog posts or research (anonymously if you prefer), you'll get undying gratitude from me -- AND a five-percent discount from Fishbowl if you purchase Fishbowl Inventory! A win for everybody!