As a beer lover, I’ve been amazed at the explosive growth and variety of craft beer in the U.S. According to the Brewers Association, there were just 89 breweries in the U.S in 1979. Today, there are well over 4,000. Amazingly, that number is about the same as it was in 1873.
It’s not difficult to identify what happened. The Industrial Revolution required mass production, corporate consolidation, and rigid product uniformity. Henry Ford built his fortune on giving consumers any color Model T they wanted—so long as it was black.
Now, however, we’re experiencing a new revolution, fueled by technology. Instead of mass production, businesses now strive for mass diversity—not just the ability, but the imperative to offer nearly endless choices to satisfy customer demand. Compare the Model T’s single-color option to the Mini Cooper’s more than 10 million possible customization combinations.
Because your customers want variety, small and medium businesses need to respond. How can you do this? By embracing nimble, innovative, cloud-based technology that can help you quickly diversify your product line. And this demand for variety drives opportunities when SMBs are positioned to take the initiative when their larger competitors fail to respond. It is happening with beer and many other industries, including a broad range of food products, many types of distilled spirits, skis and snowboards, bicycles, toys, and even the automotive sector.
Here are 5 ways modern technology will help:
Personalization is a response to changing markets, tastes, and directions, especially when expanding into overseas markets or even into a neighboring region. The more agile your SMB is, the better positioned you are to meet your customer’s regional, seasonal, and even individual preferences. Cloud computing offers SMBs that additional agility.
Not long ago, taking a new product to market was a year-long (or longer) endeavor. Today, a timeline of a single year means that months of talent, resources and energy are dedicated to a project that will be out of date by the time it launches.
Cloud solutions help you solve that problem. They provide the on-demand computing power that innovation requires, and they take the guesswork out of handling day-to-day business operations.
Remember, every minute you and your team spend worrying about staffing levels or purchasing supplies is a minute not spent on growing your business, your brand, or your product.
With the cloud, you don’t have to worry about adding more servers or installing more software in order to grow. Instead, you simply provision new seats or buy more computing power from your cloud vendor.
You want to stay focused on meeting marketing demands. You shouldn’t be worried about whether your accounting system can handle a geographic expansion (and meet local tax regulations), whether you have enough server power to handle increased demand, or whether your data is protected from fire or cybersecurity breaches.
Rapidly growing SMBs don’t have the luxury of trial and error when it comes to building out their business processes. Best-in-class cloud applications provide modern best practice processes—such as procure to pay, asset acquisition to retirement, recruitment to onboarding and more—right out of the box.
Anyone who has spent any time installing on-premises software knows it: changing the way it works requires changing the underlying code. That means IT time, talent, and money. And when you want to upgrade to the next version, all those customizations must be re-programmed.
By comparison, the best cloud-based systems provide many options to change and extend the way they work, right down to the individual user interfaces. That means your team works in an environment adapted to its needs, rather than the other way around. And the best part is, any changes or extensions you make remain upgrade-safe. They won’t break the software once the next version rolls out.
With technology in the cloud, data flows freely from department to department, and even to and from your customers and suppliers as needed. These connections permit a far broader array of analytics than would otherwise be possible.
Advanced analytics give your SMB a greater understanding of customer behavior and needs, and helps better align processes to meet those needs and exceed expectations. More and better data drives more intelligent analysis about your company’s performance at every level.
For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, small and medium businesses have clear advantages over their larger competitors. They can deliver exactly what their customers want, when they want it. In the mass diversity revolution, individualized customer demand is driving the design of products and services—not the other way around. Cloud computing epitomizes this “one-size-fits-one” approach and gives your SMB the freedom it needs to meet its challenges.
At Oracle, we know how a personalized cloud can help you create personalized products and services for your customers. We have adopted cloud technologies throughout our entire infrastructure to innovate faster, utilize best practices and analyze what is going well and what needs to be modified. So visit go.Oracle.com/SMB to learn how we can help you GO for growth. And when you are ready, our sales experts are ready to guide you through the process.