To unleash the full potential of digitization, fashion supply executives must harness technology to accelerate the transformation of internal processes, external partnerships, and organizational culture.
There are five foundations that executives can or should start building today to solidly support the digitization process.
1. Talent and mentality.
Companies must acquire and develop internal and external talent to drive the digital transformation. Key steps include tearing down long-established isolation in the product development process and hiring new professionals with expertise in technology, data analysis and business vision.
To energize and retain this talent, companies must adjust the way they work; this includes creating small, interdisciplinary teams within a flat hierarchy; using test and learning approaches for new developments; and, above all, making quick, fact-based decisions.
Executives also need to make a conscious effort to increase their appetite for risk and the external orientation of their sourcing teams and encourage them to experiment with new tools.
I recommend you read this article – 3D Design and Fashion Predictive Analytics – where we analyzed the change of model based on data analysis, from prospective to predictive design.
2. External collaboration and participation models.
To achieve a competitive advantage in a digital world, companies must invest in creating strategic alliances and partnerships. This includes connecting and partnering with strategic suppliers, technology companies and customers, as well as experimenting with new collaboration models that include emerging companies and various fashion-related organizations.
Developing these ecosystems, where each partner brings its core competence, will enable rapid innovation and adoption of new technologies. It is essential for the success of such ecosystems that they are dynamic and agile and able to adapt quickly to new developments.
3. Digital infrastructure.
Businesses can act now to design an objective infrastructure and draw a roadmap for faster and more sustainable impact. That roadmap should prioritize areas of investment and development, based on solid business cases. It would be a mistake to expect an all-encompassing solution: instead, companies should invest early in the best available solutions and link them in the backend. They must rely on both internal talent and external communities to create, acquire and experiment with new digital tools.
In building their digital infrastructure, companies can adopt a “two-speed architecture”. This means creating a second layer of faster infrastructure to drive innovation, along with outdated computer systems that could take years to change. In contrast, it is often possible to create in a few months a separate fast system for developing new applications and tools.
4. Advanced analytics.
Companies can intensify their use of big data and analyses where they create real value. Key steps include defining value drivers and usage cases, creating solutions for relevant points and achieving early successes by integrating them into the broader roadmap of digitization. Enterprises can use tools such as dashboards, interactive applications, and live data reception to improve their overall analytical position.
5. Process redesign and end-to-end scanning.
Fashion companies and brands can leverage digitization to further drive transformation to a demand-driven model. Based on the first phase of optimizing end-to-end process efficiency and supply chain flexibility – which as we expressed in this article is digital, on-demand and always connected – they can identify high-value cases for digitization and then develop a roadmap that identifies solutions and available partners to drive further digitization in priority areas. Then they can quickly move from testing these solutions to scaling them up across the business.
With new digital technologies at hand, companies can adjust their processes to capture the benefits of these innovations. In some cases, specific process steps may no longer be needed or may be combined into a single integrated step.
A good example is the planning process. Broadly automated and fully integrated demand and supply planning in a closed loop breaks the traditional barriers between the different planning steps and transforms it into a flexible and continuous process. This integrated process will be m
Our repeated conclusion.
Digitization is not an end in itself. On the contrary, it is a powerful driver of progress in all major drivers of future success in apparel sourcing, including constant optimization of supplier country strategy, truly strategic partnerships with suppliers, better compliance and risk management, and a doubling of efficiency from start to finish.
The players in the apparel sector face a major transformation, provided they integrate all these elements. Efficient digitization will help them realize that transformation faster and with much greater impact.
If you want to know this exciting process in depth and each and every one of the benefits that digitization will bring to those companies and fashion brands that integrate it, here is a list of all the articles in which we have analyzed the process:
I hope you will find them valuable!