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How to reduce risk and increase competitive standing in the food industry

28 March, 2017
How to reduce risk and increase competitive standing in the food industry

Companies that make and distribute food products are subject to stringent regulations that maintain safety and quality standards for ingredients, raw materials, and finished products.

At the same time, they run the most efficient and profitable operations they can, creating and providing the products resellers, hospitality businesses, and consumers want. Introducing new products typically comes with the high risk of creating supply chain and production mechanisms with uncertain consumer adoption.

It’s a tough balance, especially when you consider the many uncontrollable elements that also impact the food business – including weather conditions, soil quality, seasonal fluctuations in consumer demand, even political conditions in the countries where farmers and suppliers are located.

Uniquely in the food industry, the quality of produce, fruit, milk, or other supplies at their point of origin predetermines the business outcome of the manufacturing and distribution processes.

Using contextual intelligence to connect your business

Forward-looking food companies understand that it is of benefit to them when the contributors at any nexus of the supply chain and production operations are closely connected. For example, the findings of roaming agronomists assessing soil qualities, climate conditions, and the likely yield and quality of farming operations need to be available to purchasing and production planners at a food company, so they can make the right decisions.

Evidence of shifting consumer preferences and buying patterns should be recorded in the retail and hospitality environments where they play out, and relayed to the food manufacturer’s decision-makers.

Traditional business intelligence and computing systems often lack the depth of field and flexibility to help food company planners and production managers to take advantage of wide-ranging collaborations and make smart, timely decisions that are based on data in context. This is when cloud computing, including the use of advanced business insight tools available in the cloud, can help food companies connect all the contributors, collect and process any data evidence that matters, and take the right action when it still makes a difference.

Take a look at the short, fun animation we’ve prepared to get a sense of what the cloud can help food companies accomplish.

Don’t break your budget with advanced analytics

Instead of investing in expensive software licenses, servers, networks, data storage, security, technology, telecommunications, and everything else you need to set up a data centre, in the cloud you can access these resources immediately.

Many times, if you take a certain workload or proof-of-concept to the cloud, you can be in production within hours or minutes.

Advanced business intelligence tools available from the leading cloud providers help you make sense of the data and events that affect your business. To give your planning, and decisions substantiation a wider perspective, you can complement your own business data with cloud resources such as OpenFDA in the U.S., where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers its own data volumes for your analysis and reporting.

The cloud connects mobile and roaming contributors and data sources to your processes. This becomes especially effective if containers, facilities, distribution systems, and weather stations are connected to the internet of things (IoT), so they can generate data for analysis in the cloud. You can track raw materials and produce from the farm, through the supply chain, to your production. In real time, you can follow quality assessments that tell you about freshness, environmental conditions, or other measures.

If there’s a procurement delay, you can identify alternate sources before your production is disrupted. At the other end of the process, if a sudden increase in demand needs to boost procurement and production, your cloud-based intelligence helps you act on the opportunity before some competitors are even aware of it.

Food industry expertise that you can put to work

Columbus food industry experts have helped many food companies grow and increase their long-term business viability, taking advantage of business insight and computing capabilities easily accessible in the cloud.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the Azure cloud, superior analytics and business management functionality is available to the food industry. We can help you make a smooth, controlled, predictable transition to cloud computing, so you can stay focused on what you do best – create, makes and distribute food products prized by consumers.

Learn about some of our ERP projects with food businesses here, or to begin transforming your business in the cloud, take the next step and read our e-book, A guide to transformation in the cloud for food businesses. Then, get in touch.

Categories: Food

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