The Human Role in Tech Transformations, and Growing the Top Line Using DMS and SFA

Divir Tiwari
Divir Tiwari

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The Human Role in Tech Transformations, and Growing the Top Line Using DMS and SFA

Divir Tiwari
Divir Tiwari

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At a recent roundtable organized by FieldAssist in Bengaluru and moderated by Balaji Venkatraman, Director of Consulting at PwC multiple industry leaders and experts got together to share thoughts on key challenges facing the industry today. Most digital transformation exercises focus on improving efficiency and productivity, which helps the bottom line. What if we tell you that you could improve your top-line through your digital transformation? Distribution Management System (DMS) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) are two technology solutions that help not just automate and optimize – but outright transform a company’s sales processes and supply chain. SFA enhances efficiency and productivity by providing visibility to the sales cycle and gamifying the sales process, while DMS helps extend automation to the distributor supply chain and address distributor challenges such as inventory management, reconciliation, and claims processing.   When used together, DMS and SFA make an organization more efficient by reducing the sales cycle, and creating a future-ready, robust, and scalable framework.  “Integrated systems drastically improve the overall decision-making capacity,” said Santhosh Gireesan, SAP Project Manager at M/s. Tropical General Investment, Nigeria. You need the right strategies to identify the right product mix for your specific business and sales contexts – something that generic solutions are often unable to deliver. Purchasing and deploying the right technology is not enough to fill this gap. You need the right people as well. People who’ve done this before in dozens of organizations such as yours, people who know the common pain points and how to solve them, people who empathize with your challenges and the hurdles faced by your end users. 

Challenges and opportunities

 

Yet, the CPG industry is plagued by legacy systems. Today’s challenges need advanced capabilities such as data analytics, AI/ML, and full mobile support. Moreover, change management needs to become much more sensitive and focused.

Incentivizing people to use a new technology solution is often the biggest hurdle in adoption and business transformation. Technology transformation projects broadly two categories of common challenges:

  • Under-utilization of technology: This is a common scenario where technology is either not deployed or all a product’s features are not fully utilized. A common example is ARS, an extremely useful feature that even companies who deploy DMS technology fail to benefit from. Proper consulting and guidance is needed from technology vendors to educate clients and distributors on how technology can directly increase their bottom lines. 
  • Over-utilization of technology: It is not uncommon for technology to be deployed and implemented beyond what the business, or the tech itself, was capable of supporting at the time. It is critical to be realistic and appreciate the limitations of the technology, especially one that is fairly new and untested.

    As summed up by Nithin Philip, GM – Sales at iD Fresh Food (India) Pvt. Ltd., regarding Machine Learning, in the FMCG industry, “Machine is still learning; adoption is the key to success.”
Technology should also be aligned with business priorities specific to the conditions of particular industries and product lines. For example, some product lines might require more focus on outlet penetration, while some on accurate data collection. It is critical to contextualize technology based on business needs.  Defining problems is as critical as solving them. As Saurabh Gupta, CTO at FroGo, eloquently put it, “AI/ ML will not solve your problem unless you know what problem to solve. Ability to sell is not equal to the ability to distribute.”

Being Human with Technology

End users are the most critical aspect of any transformation, but unfortunately, also the most ignored. Giving a voice to people on the ground and listening with empathy are critical to leveraging technology. It’s their problems you’re solving after all. Arindam Gupta, GM IT at Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting, summarized this succinctly: “People and Process must be factored in with technology. Man and machine need collaboration to work well.” 

For more details on how technology can be leveraged as a business enabler, and how the human touch is as essential as technology, download our ebook today! 

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