Welcome to the LogisticsIT.com Blog Zone
Apr 03, 2012 Comments (0)
Welcome to the Blog Zone on LogisticsIT.com. For the team at Manufacturing & Logistics IT it seems hard to believe that a whole decade and a half has passed since the hardcopy journal first came off the presses in 1997, closely followed by its closely associated feature-rich website. Now, we have taken the website to a whole new level, making article navigation even easier, and offering an even more user-friendly design and layout. As part of this new offering we have introduced this Blog Zone, and its accompanying Twitter Zone, providing you with the opportunity to air your views and invitations to debate key issues related to the vibrant world of manufacturing, logistics and retail.
To kick things off, I thought I would share some of my own observations over the 15 years Manufacturing & Logistics IT has been in existence. One thing is for certain – during the intervening years the technology we regularly report on has done everything but stand still. Indeed the rate of change has been truly breath-taking in the way it has enhanced all our day-to-day business lives – and in many cases our social lives to boot. The backbone of many of these developments has to be the World Wide Web, which was only in its relative infancy when we first nurtured the idea of this magazine. One of the key current focuses of interest in the Web in a business sense can be seen in Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS); where your chosen software functionality (and the data that is stored therein) can be accessed through a pay-as-you-go model via your computer – as opposed to the software being installed on your own company server.
If we look back a mere 10 years or so ago, before the Cloud and SaaS models had even been fully conceptualised, we will remember when software was often built around rigid protocols, requiring much middleware interfacing in order to get two vendors’ pieces of kit to bolt together and ‘talk’ to one another. Then we became familiar with the phrase interoperability and the idea of making system interfacing a more seamless exercise. I’m sure many of you also remember the year or two leading up to the Year 2000, with all the concern about ‘Y2K’ being a regular read in the business press – even the ‘nationals’. The fear wasn’t just about critical-business data supposedly being at risk, I remember even reading that there was a danger of aircraft falling out of the sky when the witching hour finally arrived. And with ‘Y2K-proof’ systems being heavily promoted at the time, this milieu of concern served some IT solutions firms and consultants very well. Nevertheless, much to the relief of businesses around the globe, very little negative fallout actually occurred after the fireworks and all-night parties had come to pass.
In terms of business software itself, many vendors have extended the scope of their systems’ functionality. For example, a number of the big industry names from the world of warehouse management systems now offer considerably more than a ‘within the four walls’ solutions set – everything from supply chain management, forecasting & planning, S&OP, yard management and even people management, and all wrapped up with added business intelligence in many cases. Also, let’s not ignore mobile computers, which were less of a ubiquitous presence in the business world a decade or so ago. There is much to consider here: increased form-factor ruggedness better levels of ingress protection, increased battery life, richer software functionality, built-in high-resolution cameras – and the list of developments over the past few years so goes on. On the consumer front, we were introduced to the iPad in 2010; something that has inadvertently had a major effect on the business world’s growing awareness of the B2B tablet PC marketplace. And, of course, Voice-directed picking systems have become increasingly popular in recent times, offering compelling benefits in the warehouse and distribution centre such as increased picking accuracy and speed – not to mention an often impressively fast ROI into the bargain. Then there is the market geography factor to consider. The Chinese and Indian marketplaces for B2B hardware, software and related services, for example, were quite different propositions 15 years ago.
Of course, the above observations barely begin to scratch the surface of what has really taken place since we first took receipt of our first edition of Manufacturing & Logistics IT all those years ago. So the question remains, what will the solutions landscape look like in another decade and a half? One thing’s for sure; vision and innovation will undoubtedly continue to re-shape our world. As part of (what we hope will become) your regular blog input, we would very much welcome your thoughts on what the future holds for our industry from a technology perspective.
One additional point regarding blog content: The core raison d'etre of this Blog Zone is to provide visitors to this site with an informed source of comment that offers true value to their business. With this in mind, posted comment could, for example, focus on what recently introduced or enhanced technology can offer the target end-user. Alternatively, comment could come from end-users themselves, possibly pointing out what they would like the vendor community to bring to market with regard to enhanced system functionality that could be better suited for the business and/or operational needs of the manufacturing, logistics or retail professional.
We hope the above comment provides you with some food for thought. We also trust that over the coming weeks, months and years you will find this zone (and indeed the whole re-vamped website) of interest and value; whether as a passive observer or, as we very much hope, as an active participant. Happy blogging.
Manufacturing & Logistics IT Editor, Ed Holden, has over 20 years’ experience at the helm of leading business-to-business journals in the UK, including those within such top publishing stables as EMAP, Trinity Mirror (Mirror Group),B2B Publishing & Calvert Media.Over the last 15 years,Ed has focused on writing predominantly within retail,manufacturing,material handling,engineering & supply chain arena.