Digitalization during the quarantine: when business needs to be accelerated
Boris Belyansky, CEO of MTI hi-tech distribution
At the end of 2019, when a pandemic wave had not yet touched Ukraine, and the news from China was becoming more and more unnerving, a large group of analysts from 2 companies was preparing to launch a unique, complex and extremely significant project. MTI is one of the leaders of the Ukrainian market for the distribution of hi-tech products and solutions, in partnership with SMART, a leading expert in the market for the development, implementation, support of ERP and CRM systems, they were preparing the start of a new ERP system at MTI. On New Year's Eve, all old systems were turned off and replaced with a single new one - Microsoft Dynamics NAV. This was the most difficult case for the digitalization of processes at all levels in a company. Digitalization allows us not only to survive during the economic crisis, but to continue development and maintain the planned growth rates, developing relations with partners and raising the manageability of the company and its assets to a qualitatively new level.
Must admit, it was difficult for us since, we were pioneers of our kind. Prior to MTI hi-tech distribution, no one in Ukraine has yet implemented such a large-scale transition of a multi-component IT infrastructure to a single platform. We managed to implement all external and internal processes of the company in a single system without interrupting production. Such approach allowed us to significantly save both on human hours and on IT resources. Modules for pricing, internal and external reporting, KPI reporting, customer portal, and purchase planning module are working now in a single environment. What is extremely important is that now in a single system existing both management and accounting records. Also, the functionality of internal approval and changes control was launched. All these important elements of company management make the business more manageable and transparent at the one hand for the line managers andtop management, and at the other for the business owners, financial institutions, and auditors.
Obviously, the distribution market has changed a lot over the past few years. The usual measured work of distributors with IT retailers is a thing of the past. And only those players who manage to implement a super-flexible scheme for working with clients, providing them with as much as possible autonomy and speed in order processing, will be able to win the competition.
During the quarantine period, retail customers have become unaccustomed to offline, partners (market participants) are massively developing the online segment and forecasts of a possible second wave of lockdown, only urging large retail chains to follow this trend. At the same time, the market is moving away from long-term planning, giving preference to short-term trends, small batches of equipment and the fastest delivery possible. Therefore, we have to accelerate the work with orders wherever possible.
The toolkit of our new ERP-system allows MTІ partners to receive the most relevant information about the state of the warehouse and track price changes in real time. Due to this, the efficiency of decisions on the purchase and sale of equipment is significantly increased, which, in turn, allows the company to attract new customers even in such difficult times.
Now that the coronavirus crisis is in full swing, we continue to modernize processes within the company and learn to make the most of BigData in business. Therefore, all the data we have accumulated will subsequently be used to make management decisions and obtain maximum benefits for the company and our partners.
Separately, I would like to say about what scares many business owners in working with clients and partners during the transition to work in a new IT system. There is nothing to be afraid of if you are facing them. If it seems to you that it may be difficult for someone to master a new functionality, teach them. Tell the client how to get the most out of the new system of work - and he will stay with you for a long time. We organized training webinars and created detailed video tutorials on how to work with new interfaces and new features. We have also built a live feedback channel with our partners at all levels in order to respond as quickly as possible to market changes and trends.
Automation of internal processes is a “win-win” for both parties. After all, the client receives from us more tools for quick and independent management of their orders, and the company, accordingly, more orders.
At MTI hi-tech distribution, we continue to develop services, including with the participation of our partners. For example, the company is now introducing new functionality for the digitalization of work processes, which will allow us to quickly set up and use our data transmission system for planning routes in TMS (Transport Management System), which will increase the speed and improve the quality of delivery of goods for our customers' orders. Yes, this is a significant investment in software and modernization of internal processes. But this is exactly what should not be postponed "for later" even in the midst of the crisis - otherwise "later" will not come.