Fresh and Direct Is the Way to Go!

From online retailing of fresh goods to delivering business insight as it happens in real time, the best approach to business is getting ’em delivered Fresh and Direct!

When I deliver a speech on the future of business, I always point out the fact that it’s about doing business in real time. And one of the great role models is FreshDirect which “custom-prepares groceries and meals for its customers, a manufacturing practice called Just In Time that reduces waste and improves quality and freshness.” (Source: Wikipedia)

By producing the end products when the order is received, FreshDirect keeps the freshness of its products delivered to the doorstep of its customers. In addition, taking the direct-from-the-source approach to procuring fresh goods, the online grocer cuts down on the costs of distribution. Hence the name, FreshDirect!

“Real Time” Means Fresh and Direct

FreshDirect uses the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software from SAP to run its day-to-day operations, while using the same vendor’s business intelligence software to help making decisions in real time.

What you need to know when you hear the words, “real time,” is that it works exactly the same way as the online grocer does its business. The data are taken  from the source as events happen in the most fresh and direct way possible. There’s no preparation of data by middle men. And no delay from batch input.

In the “All-for-One” world, you already have what it takes to get the job done; all the insight and services delivered to you fresh and direct from the source, in real time.

Hence, employees at a real-time business can have meaningful insights delivered to them whenever and wherever they happen to be. Real-time businesses follow the guiding principle of the “All-for-One” world, where all that’s needed for you will be available to you already. You always get a fresh and direct grip on what you need to know.

You Can Manage What You See

As the user of ERP (for business transactions) and BI (for business decisions), FreshDirect wanted a way to visualize the insight buried in numbers and figures. They came up with the idea to show what they need to know on a map, using a Google Map API, as is shown on the picture at the top of this post.

What I over-layed on the truck is a screenshot that I captured from a video clip that explains how FreshDirect’s mission control, or call center, works. The delivery trucks are marked as orange or black pins on the map of Manhattan — orange means okay, while black means “not moving for more than a few minutes.”

You can manage what you see. You can see what you measure. Visualize what you measure, so your people can see immediately what needs to be done.

You can see exactly which trucks are not moving at the moment. Click on one of the black pins will connect you to the driver of the truck in question. Now you know what’s blocking the truck’s progress, and check out the deliveries contained in the shipment (I mean, the truck).

Now that you know what needs to go where by when, you can re-direct the deliveries by repackaging some, and picking others from the truck via a motorbike, for instance. That way, you make sure that you keep your promise to your customers that they will get their goods delivered on time!

Customers Don’t Know If Anything’s Wrong

With this real-time business culture, FreshDirect has increased its on-time delivery performance from 91% up to 99% in the first year of adopting the new visualized system. Here’s the power of showing, rather than telling, a story with data visualization. You can’t miss what you clearly see on the map!

Another benefit of a real-time business is that your customers don’t know if anything has gone wrong in the process. That’s because you are always mindful of what’s happening at the moment, understands the impact of a misstep on the promise you made to your customers, and correct any wrongs to make it right for your customers before anything turns into an issue.

A real-time business platform, like SAP HANA, helps you deliver data when they’re needed — fresh and direct from the source, with no aggregation or data preparation in advance.

That’s exactly what FreshDirect does. And that’s what you can do today, with the real-time mindset. Of course, a real-time business can get a great help from in-memory data platform like SAP HANA, which stores and delivers all the data in real time — fresh and direct from the source.

What you will need first and foremost, however, is not technology but a real-time mindset. You need to be ready to keep an eye on what’s happening right now. If anything unusual happens, you look into the potential issue and make the right move for your customers and partners. That way you can always keep them happy and come back for more.

Are you ready to deliver Fresh and Direct?

Thanks in advance for all of your comments, questions, and opinions.

This article was originally published on my LinkedIn Pulse blog

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