THE REAL VALUE OF FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION SOFTWARE SYSTEMS

Written by Pieter Coetzer

On Oct 10, 2019

Change is part of daily routine and we have to adapt to change or get left behind. This is also true for the business environment. Everywhere we hear stories of how the business horizon is changing and the progress associated with the change.

Much is currently written about the fourth industrial revolution. When it comes to system technology, much emphasis is placed on the fact that these systems are paperless, cloud-based systems where the automation of business workflow processes is part of the offering. The obvious advantage of these fourth industrial revolution systems is that cost-saving is achieved, there is the possibility higher staff productivity and management can have in-time, real-time management information.

The cost saving is achieved in that the systems are cloud-based (no need for a capital outlay for expensive hardware and equally expensive support staff) and paper-less (the systems reduces the need for hard copies of transactional information). Higher staff productivity is achieved through the automation of business processes, which, if well defined, requires less human intervention.

These are the obvious and often highly emphasized benefits of fourth industrial revolution. The rest of the article shall attempt to highlight equally important benefits, but which are generally not mentioned or discussed.

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The Cost of Data Failure
One phenomenon of client facing businesses is the fact that staff always can find time to correct mistakes, but never have time to do tasks correct the first time.

The cost of data failure is when data has to be copied and captured more than once from the source to the application where the data is processed. Paper based systems is prone to have mistakes. These mistakes that are costly to the organization and could have a detrimental effect on cashflow.

Paperless systems with well-defined business processes can to a large extend reduce the cost of data failure. Paperless systems, where business processes are automated to its’ logical conclusion and where data only is captured only once, reduce the chance of copying data incorrectly from source to transaction processing.

Data incorrectly copied and captured may lead to incorrect customer invoices, which apart from its’ annoyance to the customer can also lead to reputational damage.

The Advantage of Measure and Manage
Business information is required to manage any organization, irrespective of its’ size or staff compliment. To be able to measure the organization, data must be converted to information to be useful. To gather data and convert to information could be a tedious, cumbersome and time-consuming undertaking. The uncertainty of manually captured data could also have an effect on the exercise.

There is also a heavy reliance on Excel spreadsheet which has the capability of delivery more than one version of the truth.

In a paper-less system where business information is available, this exercise becomes much more achievable and could be refined to a very large extend. All transactional data that has been captured is readily available in electronic format.

Paper based systems have to be perused, data extracted by hand, copied to another reporting form and calculated before being converted to information.

Herewith examples of items that could be of interest of service based, client facing enterprises:

· Territory Analysis – which areas / suburbs have the largest number of clients of the enterprise?

· Work order efficiency – how long does it take for work orders to be fully paid and closed?

· Fuel efficiency – what are the actual kilometres per fuel consumed?

· Warehouse – what is the capex invested in the various warehouses?

· Stock Levels – which parts are fast moving, expensive items versus high-cost slow moving stock?

The profit orientated business owner should consider which indicators are relevant to his business in an effort to maximize profit. Maximizing profit can only be achieved by real time and relevant information.

The Hidden Possibilities of Client Relationship Management
Client facing enterprises using a cloud based paperless system normally have a wealth of information when it comes to clients. Client biographical and address data forms part of the data required to deliver service and goods.

This a valuable source, but often overlooked by business owners. The information of clients could be used in communicating special offers, client satisfaction surveys and well wishing.

Business owners should guard against making client information available to third parties.

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The Leverage of Collaboration
Business owners could utilize their systems to determine with which competitors service level agreements could be negotiated to the best interest of both parties.

For example, if clients are being serviced in outlying areas, would it not be better to have an agreement in place with a local service provider at the cost of a referral fee? If certain specialized skills are required for a particular circumstance, it could be sourced from a competitor with spare capacity. This would be more cost-effective than appointing a costly resource.

The ripple effect of positive cash-flow
Systems designed for the 4th Industrial Revolution does not guarantee that clients will settle their invoices in a timely manner.

Invoices that are free of mistakes, delivered on site directly after a service has been delivered with payment options that makes it easier for the customer to settle have a better chance of being paid. This will lead to a more positive cash-flow where the business owner has less need for an operational overdraft facility. Overdraft facilities requires interest payment which should be avoided.

With a more positive cashflow, the business owner may consider giving discounts to loyal customers. Discounts will enhance client perception of the business and will allow for more confident referrals.

Positive cashflow has the tendency to be a closed loop which get repeated over and over.

Conclusion
Business owners must realize if their enterprise is functioning, it is not necessarily at optimum efficiency. An edge must be obtained in a highly competitive environment. This edge can be achieved with cutting edge systems and procedures.

Caracal Software Solutions provide service business owners with MobiWork – this system can be customized to provide an edge over competitors. Feel free to contact us today. Email us on pieter@caracalsolutions.co.za.

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