Monday, May 20, 2013

MMH Reports "Automation: Voice or WMS"

Why Are Some End Users Turning to Voice Rather Than Upgrade Their Legacy WMS for New Functionality?

That's the question posed by Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling, in his May 17, 2013 article "Automation: Voice or WMS." His article indicates that "rightly or wrongly, companies view a WMS implementation as risky, costly and painful. It’s one of the reasons most companies keep their WMS in place for a decade or longer, even when that system is no longer meeting all of a company’s needs."

Trebilcock referenced survey questions posed to companies by Ian Hobkirk, managing director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors. Hobkirk "noticed a trend among clients that are implementing workarounds to extend the life of a legacy WMS."  Hobkirk says. “Each has a legacy WMS that isn’t very flexible. They would rather install a workaround than upgrade their WMS.”

In addition to creating workaround code for the existing WMS, Hobkirk adds, “many companies are deploying voice to achieve functionality that is going to be too hard to get through the WMS alone..."

Unfortunitely, for many warehouse professionals, adding voice is a two-edged sword due to the costs and complexity of integrating a server-based proprietary picking system to their existing WMS. Supply Chain Insights  2013 Power of Voice Research Report, reports the Top Three Reasons why distribution professionals avoid voice technology  are 1) “too expensive” ; 2) [as a result] ‘too many competing priorities”, and; 3) “hard to integrate with other systems.

Innovation in voice technology has eliminate this 'Rock and a Hard Place" senario for the WMS market. Mobile innovation means voice placed solely on the mobile device avoids completely the high risk and fear associated with traditional server-based integration.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Retailers ‘Out-of Stock’ Losses $70 Billion, A Practical Alternative

By Gary Bockhold, President, Waterview Corporation
Does this sound familiar?  Your customers walk into your national retail chain stores to make a “need-it now” purchase and as they walk the aisles to the desired department they pick a couple of impulse items that are merchandised on your store’s end caps, power wings or floor displays. But, when your customers arrive at the location of their “need-it-now” product(s) they discover it’s OUT OF STOCK!
Disappointment and frustration kicks-in. The customer drops the impulse items and walk out of the store empty-handed and race to your retail competitor’s location. There they find their “need-it-now” product and likely additional impulse purchasesIs there anything worse than losing the revenue from your frustrated customers?  You bet there is. You also lose the customer loyalty to your store brand to your competitor.
Unfortunately this ‘out-of-stock” (OOS) scenario remains an all-too-common costly occurrence for the retail industry. The national average OOS at retail chain stores is estimated at 7% which results in lost sales and more importantly dissatisfied customers.
The Top Ten National Retail Chains have annual sales in excess of $1 Trillion which translates to $70 Billion in lost sales due to out of stocks. The overhead and time consuming burden on in-store personnel to quickly, frequently and accurately perform inventory and cycle counts has yet to reduce OOS outages. At the store level retailers run a complete inventory about twice a year, just prior to peak season, and prior to the spring season. Otherwise interim weekly inventories counts seldom account for all SKUs, resulting a year round accuracy rate of 70% or less, with accuracy degrading by 2% to 3% each month. What a task...  hundreds of thousands of SKUs, across hundreds of store locations. 
How can retailers curtail these ongoing and excessive OOS losses? Mobile innovation has delivered a new-to-retail and cost efficient solution to speed the execution of more periodic and more accurate inventory counts, while avoiding increases in new personnel and related overhead costs.
One such innovation is the AccuSpeech Mobile Voice Solution for Existing In-Store MobileApplications, when installed on your existing mobile in-store devices can reduce OOS outages and related losses by allowing your personnel to run inventory counts with faster and more accurate voice commands and confirmations. By leveraging voice technology OOS outages can be reduced by at least 20% or more. What does 20% translate in savings for your retail operation?  For an industry still reeling from a 7% OOS,  improving retail stores OOSs by as much as 1% can result in annual incremental sales of $10 Billion based on the above scenario…simply by ensuring more stock availability.
For more information, call AccuSpeechMobile at 949-435-1001 Ext. 222, Waterview Corporation at 912-236-3295 or click here to join me and AccuSpeechMobile staff in a personal Web Briefing at your convenience. I would be glad to discuss and examine with you practical solutions for improving in-stock positions and most importantly approaches to keeping your customers coming back.
R.G. Bockhold
Waterview Corporation

About Waterview Corporation
Mr. Gary Bockhold is a seasoned professional with over 40 years of distinguished leadership in Sales, Marketing, Management and Executive Experience in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry with both National and Store Brands. As president and CEO of Waterview Corporation he has developed over $200 Million in new business at manufacturing selling prices since 1996 while working with and supplying products to every national and regional retail chain.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cabela's Ramps Up Technology Rollouts

The Retail Information News (RIS) article ‘Cabela’s Ramps Up Technology Rollouts’ reports that the omnichannel retailer continues to make technology “investments and advancements in its store, its customers and its technology to stay ahead of the curve. It has done so with its use of inventory, improved forecasting, analytics, and the many ways the retailer engages with its customers both inside and outside of the store.”

Cabela’s implementation and optimization of its “omni “or multi-channel distribution processes includes the use of AccuSpeechMobile’s voice solution to increase the speed and accuracy of its 1000 plus order fulfillment workers. 
The web-video “On the Path to Saving $1Million Per Year” Cabela’s Sr. Business Process Improvement Manager, Kevin Thompson, underscores how Cabela’s has been leveraging AccuSpeechMobile to deliver not only substantial cost reductions, but also improved inventory management, reductions in workforce training cycles and related costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
At Cabela’s three national distribution centers, the company’s warehouse workers speed the completion of orders across three distribution channels, retail stores, e-commerce and catalogues using instant voice commands and responses. The Cabela's WMS from Mahattan Associates was voice-enabled by 2 members of Thompson's Business Process Improvement Team using the  wizard-based AccuSpeechMobile Customization Console, which enables Cabela's mobile devices to deliver all the necessary voice capabilities while avoiding any complex server integration with the WMS application

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Top 3 Reasons Distribution Professionals Avoid Deloying Voice For Their WMS

But Innovation Can Change Everything.

Supply Chain Insights 2013 Survey “ The Value Proposition of Voice-Directed Warehousing” revealed the top three reasons for not adopting voice productivity for the warehouse.  With continued focus on pioneering voice technologies that depend on complex, costly server-based integration with a customer’s WMS, the results were not surprising. The survey indicated from both voice users and non-voice users, that WMS Voice solutions  were:  1) “too expensive” ;  2) [as a result] ‘too many competing priorities”, and; 3) “hard to integrate with other systems”.

The 2012 Aberdeen Group Survey, “Voice Users Speak Out”  just a year earlier indicated that the majority  of companies that have made substantial investments in older server-dependent voice technologies, find it difficult to justify the high costs to maintain their investments  in voice due to the high cost of change management. Here’s what they said.
  • 42% due to cost considerations, we “batch” a number of changes together so that we   can justify the time and money to get the changes done
  • 37% We don’t consider changes because the cost to have the vendor modify the application is just too high
  • 26% We’ve paid too much for changes that seemed trivial to us 
The Aberdeen Group Survey said “The remarkable thing here is that cost is the top concern. Majority of all current voice users have a major issue when changes to voice apps are needed. They either delay change until they can justify paying to open/update the code, or they avoid change altogether”.

The good news is how leading enterprises have proven the impact of AccuSpeechMobile’s all-mobile voice innovation and how it seamlessly voice-enables your actual WMS applications and workflows... eliminating any server-based integration.  Voice innovation means distribution professionals can get all the control they want over voice deployment, speed in implementation and the ability to implement voice changes quickly and cost efficiently.

Innovation has made a difference. Here’s an AccuSpeechMobile customer that’s leveraged innovation to achieve substantial cost savings and business process improvements.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

'VoiceExpress' - ‘A Snail Being Mugged by a Turtle'

By Dan Villanueva
Vice President, Marketing
Vangard Voice Systems

Martin Henry Fischer, a German-born,  early 20th century American physician, chemist, and professor of physiology at the University of Cincinnati, known for his research in colloid chemistry said ‘that a conclusion is a place, where you got tired of thinking’.   Last week on April 19th, less than 90 days after the release of a January 2012 Aberdeen Report critical of its pioneering voice technology, Vocollect Introduced Voice Express.

In short the Aberdeen Survey reflected user frustration about the complexity, costs, human resource drain, and integration, required to make voice changes to WMS workflows and applications.

42% of the voice users surveyed by Aberdeen said they batched their voice changes until the work effort was cost-justified. Worse yet, 37% said they simply didn’t make the voice changes at all. 50% said they needed a voice solution that is easier to integrate with their WMS. 33% said they needed a solution that eliminates the excessive cost to make voice changes. These and other related acquisition related factors underscore why after 20 years only 8% of the applicable WMS market has adopted voice productivity in the warehouse.

Vocollect’s press release declares that VoiceExpress (the 5th in a series of server-based, integration dependent interfaces) will “minimize their [customer’s] need to modify the host or tap precious IT resources." 

The initial VoiceExpress includes middleware, client software to initially upgrade multi-vendor vehicle-mount and fixed-mount computers, and again continued dependence the Voice Artisan (custom code development) to aide certified partners and customers to re-engineer voice processes.

Professor Fisher's view is relevant here. VoiceExpress…is a place Vocollect arrived at last week, after being tired of thinking.  Another server-based  ‘interface’ is not the answer for its customers, it’s actually the underlying architectural  problem.

By design it’s causing the frustration of Vocollect customers, and adoption resistance for the remaining 92% of the non-voice installed WMS market.  As long as the IT server is the center for voice integration, the related costs and complexity will  slow WMS voice productivity penetration and adoption.

The solution is to be found in mobility, not the back-end IT infrastructure. VoiceExpress might be incrementally faster, but compared to what? It’s  like the snail, being mugged by the turtle. When asked to describe the mugger, the snail said, I can’t… it all happened too fast’.  

If a fully mobile voice solution alternative powered from the device was an option, why would WMS professionals intentionally complicate their IT server environment with unnecessary voice applications,  links, interfaces and integration?

Today large warehouse operations are using mobile innovation that completely circumvent the IT server. Now WMS voice functionality and application integration is delivered, seamlessly and solely from the mobile device. 

Mobile innovation changes everything.   A genuine solution, not a conclusion. The answer is a simplified mobile architecture for voice-upgrading any WMS, ERP workflow or application.   

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WMS in the Cloud: The Power of the Mobile Device, Often Ignored

By Dan Villanueva
Vice President, Marketing
Vangard Voice Systems

The excitement, projections, and growth anticipation about enterprise cloud computing in general and WMS-in-the-Cloud specifically, in time will be an absolute game changer for the SMB marketplace. It’s a no-brainer, once the SMB market, not typically risk takers, are satisfied that it can entrust their business to this evolving distribution model.

Few doubt this value in the model or and all hope that this innovation 'evens the playing field' for all customers.

However, the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of cloud-computing’s future is the role of the mobile device in this proposition. It’s not always just about ‘the cloud’ per se. It’s also about the increasing power of today’s mobile devices. So significant, the ruggedized mobile computer can also function as the ‘mobile server’ driving the all the on-board data access and data collection capabilities to support a diverse mobile workforce.

Our recent partnership with BellHawk Systems Corporation exemplifies how sophisticated manufacturing, industrial and retail supply chain applications can be cloud-deployed to devices operating a web-browser, or alternately as a .Net application. The .Net application can operate in a wireless and un-wired store-for-forward environment. When bandwidth is available, the flexibility allows the updating of back-end data bases and other associated applications.

This mobile paradigm continues to reassert itself with our device-centric, server-less voice solution for existing mobile applications. Because of mobile innovation we offer ‘voice made easy'. All of yesterdays complexity, simplified on today’s mobile platform.

The upside of wireless mobility and mobile voice deployments remains its lower cost to buy, apply and maintain compared to server-based and dependent implementations. PLUS it offers the flexibility to deploy over the cloud. And we owe this architectural alternative to the power of the ruggedized mobile computer, the new server, in a mobile world.