Bimodal Solutions: Innovating the Supply Chain

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The way organizations approach the supply chain for their products is changing. To compete in the modern digital market, companies must become “bimodal”, innovating and evolving while also maintaining operational efficiency.

The modern business model must be able to quickly adapt to changes in technology and the market. With a bimodal supply chain, businesses can focus on today’s efficiency goals while experimenting with tomorrow’s new innovations.

What is Bimodal?

A bimodal supply chain consists of two “modes” of focus. The first mode, “stability,” continues to focus on the traditional operations and keeping costs down. The second mode, “agility,” finds ways to innovate, experiment, and embrace new ideas.

These two modes may need different teams working with different budgets, goals, and incentives. But where do you start?

Discovering Your Resources

It’s important to collaborate among departments, especially in areas that intersect with customer engagement like marketing and IT. Consider available resources such as your organization’s data, which can be used to enhance demand generation, purchasing, and customer service.

Analyzing transaction data can reveal purchase patterns and enable you to make customer-specific purchase recommendations. Add content to your website that answers key customer questions and makes your sellers more efficient.

Automating Your Processes

Austin developed our Vendor Managed Inventory program to help our customers by automating virtually every step of the supply chain process, from ordering and purchasing to stocking and managing. The program can also be customized to our client’s pre-existing inventory system, saving time and money.

The modern supply chain team will be challenged to spend as much time innovating and evolving their business model as they do maintaining their bottom line. Digital business is reshaping the supply chain, and both efficiency and innovation are critical to success.

Opportunities for Innovation

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In today’s digital world, it’s never been easier for a company to share ideas and get noticed by potential customers. But keeping that attention and translating it into business is much more difficult. Your company needs to innovate to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas on ways to encourage innovation.

Shared Vision

Innovative ideas about how to do the work come from empowered teams who understand why, or the vision for the work. Vision is more than a statement, it is the inspiration behind your brand. Leaders can help their teams be proactive and understand the big picture by sharing the company’s history, values, lessons learned, and future direction.

Change of Pace

Breaking out of your workplace routine can help jump-start creative energy. Consider inviting people from different departments to provide a fresh perspective. Customer input and reviews can also be a source of innovative ideas. Even something as simple as stepping away from your computer for a minute or two can help you stay fresh. We already know it’s not healthy for your eyes to focus at a screen all day, but breaking up your screen-staring routine for even a couple of minutes can give you a mental boost and keep your creative energy high.

Flexible Workday

Some people are at their most creative and energetic in the morning. Others get more energy later in the day. Try to structure your day so that you do the right tasks at the right time. Tasks that require more energy and focus should be scheduled for when you’re at your peak. If you need time to plan or strategize, try turning all your devices on mute for 30 minutes.

Ongoing Learning

Whether you attend a class, take on a stretch assignment, or read, expanding your knowledge and skills is a path to new ideas. Think about learning opportunities that align with your role, industry, and interests and write down a few learning goals. For example, you might want to learn how to use video to better connect with customers or learn how to adopt an agile approach to projects.

At Austin Hardware, we strive to build a work environment where innovation thrives. Ideas like our Vendor Managed Inventory service help us deliver a superior customer experience, and partnerships with the best hardware manufacturers enable us to stock parts our customers need, and deliver them fast. We are always looking for input, ideas, and opportunities to help our customers better serve their customers. How do you fuel innovation?