Hiring Millennials Will Infuse Distributors with New Technology Capabilities and Readiness

One thing is clear: Distributors are suffering from a talent gap. In ID’s “2015 Survey of Distributor Operations,” nearly one-third of distributor respondents told us that “finding more qualified people” was currently a primary concern.

According to a recent report by PwC, Millennials make up 25 percent of the workforce in the U.S., and should account for 50 percent as soon as 2020. With this in mind, whether or not businesses have the Millennial set in their crosshairs is irrelevant; they’re truly the future of any business.

The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.

 “In their 2007 book, authors Junco and Mastrodicasa expanded on the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe to include research-based information about the personality profiles of Millennials, especially as it relates to higher education. They conducted a large-sample (7,705) research study of college students. They found that Next Generation college students, born between 1983–1992, …… they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations. In their survey, they found that 97% of these students owned a computer, 94% owned a mobile phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player.

Other findings in the Junco and Mastrodicasa survey revealed 76% of students used instant messaging, 92% of those reported multitasking while instant messaging, 40% of them used television to get most of their news, and 34% of students surveyed used the Internet as their primary news source.”

Millennials are identified as “digital natives” by the Pew Research Center which conducted a survey titled Millennials in Adulthood.

Is it any surprise that with the labor market changing so drastically distributors will have no choice but to do the same with their software?

Consider a millennial:

  • Has never seen a TV tube
  • Has never seen a dial channel changer – let alone gotten up to change the channel
  • Has never seen a rabbit ears antenna
  • Cars have always been fuel injected
  • The Internet has always existed
  • Cannot fathom a market without eCommerce
  • Social media is how you stay in touch
  • And so much more….
Millennials will change technology for distributors and even Dynamics AX

Illustration sourced from www.whymillennialsmatter.com

 

I am feeling dated right now so I will move on.

Since by the year 2020, a mere 4 years from now, 50% of the workforce will consist of Millennials. Companies will have no choice but to move forward with new software systems in order to attract but also to ensure they keep up with other companies as they change due to their hiring of the new workforce.

Millennials will not be interested in working with outdated technologically or legacy software systems. Consider the results of a job interview with a highly touted and sought after candidate. You are competing with a Modern Distributor but you have not updated your software for over 15 years. How do you think a candidate would rate this opportunity? If the candidate has more than one opportunity and you are technologically outdated – no ecommerce, no social media, outdated web site, old software systems – which offer will the candidate be most likely to accept?

This does not only apply to IT candidates. This applies to all applicants/candidates. Imagine having to manually manage a global supply chain, reviewing customer orders manually to ensure correct pricing, prepare thousands of vendor support invoices and not have the matching information automated, and much more.

You cannot count on finding and hiring the most attractive candidates based on luck or persistence. Millennials will do their homework and learn all there is to learn about your company. They will be interviewing you and will base their decision on their preference.

  • Home grown software systems will not interest them.
  • Highly modified 15-year-old technology systems will not interest them.
  • Companies that are not digital will not interest them.

How will millennials change your company?

When you hire Millennials they will change your company in ways you may or may not have intended to. They will make you digital, they will require new technology, they will require technical/digital collaboration with vendors and customers but even more so internal digital and immediate communication within the company itself.

Work flow to advise of next steps, Twitter accounts for forwarding of breaking and important news, social media for advertising and so much more.

Millennials will bring the digital revolution to you. To a Millennial the term digital revolution has no meaning as for them this is a way of life (born into it) and therefore not a revolution. They will make this a way of life for your company as well.

Understand that you have no choice!

You will retire and the Millennials will replace you. With them comes technology and new technical methods that will be used to manage your business.

Enjoy the ride as it will be exciting!

Dominic Telaro CFPIM, CIRM
Vice President Industry Solutions, SBS Group

Dominic Telaro brings over 35 years of Manufacturing, Distribution, Software and Dominic Telaro 001 IBIS DT 110113Consulting experience. Half of his professional career has been in Manufacturing and Distribution from shop floor and warehousing positions to management. During this time he implemented ERP, DRP and Logistics solutions as internal Project Leader. The second half of his career has been in consulting, product management, product development and both consulting and software sales. He has held positions as VP Of Industry Solutions, VP of Product Development, VP of Sales and Marketing and Global Practice Leader for companies like IBIS Inc., IBM, Janis Group, Metamor, Marcam Corp. and more. Presently he is responsible for Industry Product Vision for multiple ERP solutions at SBS Group USA.

APICS Fellow and Certified in Integrated Resource Management, Instructor at Universite de Montreal, Vanier College and Granby CEGEP for APICS certification; Lead instructor for internal APICS training at Bell Helicopter, Avon, Le Groupe Hamelin

Learn more about our Distribution Software solutions.

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Making sense of the Common Data Model and Microsoft PowerApps in Dynamics 365

When Microsoft Dynamics 365 was announced a few weeks ago, the Common Data Model and other Microsoft productivity services such as PowerApps and Microsoft Flow were a significant part of this, along with the unified offering of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics ERP cloud services under this umbrella. The solution stack diagram below for Dynamics 365 depicts the positioning of these various  elements in Dynamics 365.

Dyn 365 Solution Stack

In my earlier post I mentioned about the release of the public preview of the Common Data Model last week. Now that the public preview of the Common Data Model is available, let us try to make sense of these together and see what are the possibilities using the CDM and Microsoft PowerApps.

In today’s post, we will create a simple example mobile app using Microsoft PowerApps and the Common Data Model database.

Log in to Microsoft PowerApps at the URL https://powerapps.microsoft.com. You can use the PowerApps web version to create your apps. But the best way to do this is to download the app from Windows store .

PowerApps Windows Store

In this post, I will use the windows store app to create this sample mobile app.

Launch PowerApps and click New tab to select the data source. While you can use various data sources such as Dynamics CRM online, excel file stored in the cloud, online storage such as OneDrive or Google Drive, in this case we will use the Common Data Model as the data source for this app.

Data Source

On the next screen, select the entity that you want to use in this app and click Connect button. For this sample app, we will use the Sales Order entity and build a simple app to interact with Sales orders (Simple actions such as view sales orders, edit or even create a new order).

Sales Order Entity

At this point, PowerApps will consume the Sales Order entity data and create the sample app with some default screens automatically, which you can adjust and change to make it look the way you want it. The auto creation feature comes in handy, as you do not need to create the app from scratch.

Connect and Create App

Now that the default screens of the app are created, let us try to edit those a little bit to make them look more complete. The first screen is a Sales Order overview screen that shows the list of sales orders.

  • Rename the screen to call it as “Sales Orders Overview”.

Rename Screen

  • Next, lets establish the links to some of the data fields to show the sales order overview data. In this case, we will show the customer name, Sales order number, order status and the sales order total amount. To do this, select each data field and select the data field for each field on the right hand panel.

Relate Data Fields

  • You will now notice that the first overview screen of the app looks more complete with meaningful data and you also have basic actions such as searching a sales order, or even sorting them. You can also select a different layout for this screen at this point if you want by selecting from various readily available templates.

Screen1

  • Let us now move on to the next screen, which will load up when user select or taps on a specific sales order record on the first screen. Let us call the next screen as the Sales order details screen. Follow the same approach to make edits to this screen. For example, we will add a few data fields and change the layout a little bit.
  • In this screen, you can click on the “eye” mark to add or remove fields and then click Advanced option to chose data fields relation, or even rename a specific data field. For this demonstration, I have added simple data fields such as Order ID, Name, address, payment terms, shipping method, order date and tax, discount amounts of the order. At the end of this your screen should look something like below. You can also change the layout of this page, like you did for the first screen.

 

Screen 2

  • Moving on to the 3rd screen of the app, let us make it the Edit screen for the sales order. When user clicks on the Edit button on screen 2, this screen will load up. Follow the same instructions above to complete the design of this page. You screen should look something like below.

Screen 3

  • You can then explore the various tabs on the top to change different aspects of the app. For example you can add a new screen, change the color and theme of the app, add a new data source(such as the Sale Order line table if you want show order lines on this app), add a background image for the app, or even add new controls to the app such as a new button, a text field, charts  and more.

Additional options

  • Now that all the screens we intended are designed, let us preview the app by clicking the preview button and you will notice that you can interact with the app in various ways. For example on the first screen when we select a specific sales order record, it will navigate to the details page. (Note: I have changed the theme of the app before previewing it.)

Preview

Preview 2

  • Finally we will save the app (you can save it in the cloud or in your local computer) and then share it for consumption by others. Notice that you can specify with whom you want to share this app and what level of permission you want to give them while sharing the app.

Share

Below screenshot shows how this mobile app looked on my smartphone after I shared it and launched it on my Android phone.

Mobile Apps

This was just a very simple demonstration of the possibilities and what you can do with the Common Data Model and productivity tools such as PowerApps or Microsoft flow. The CDM is in preview now, but when it releases this fall, you will see a lot more data entities and much more capabilities of designing powerful business apps  in the cloud for your organization.

That is it for today’s post and I will share more as details emerge and as I learn more.:). Hope you all will keep exploring more on this. Till next time!!

Regards,

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics AX enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft dynamics AX ERP. He has experience working with the new Dynamics AX (AX 7), AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2 and more.

All About the Kicking, Punching, Biting and Fighting of Distribution Software

A few years back, I was invited into a panel discussion at distribution conference at which all the best known distribution software companies were represented. The moderator asked us this question:

“Are most distributors on board with implementing a new ERP, supply chain or other distribution software solution to help them grow and improve future performance?”

My answer was:

“Regardless of the reason, distributors go into new distribution software acquisition and implementation kicking, punching, biting and fighting – reluctant every step of the way.”

Half of the people in the room decided right then that I was the “doomsday guy”.  The other half rolled their eyes as if I were just saying this for shock value.  So, why did I say this? Because it is true.

I’ve worked for, with and around distributors throughout my entire career.  I’ve spent time on each side of the table, both as a buyer and a seller.  I’ve participated in distribution software selection and implementation with more distributors than I can count and never once did the buyers have the same enthusiasm as the sellers.

Why the anxiety?

Why distributors have anxiety about purchasing ERP and Supply Chain solutiosn

Distributors experience the same anxiety about software acquisition as everyone else.  Purchasing an enterprise solution always results in writing a big check, late hours and serious pressure to succeed.  But, it’s more than that.  In my experience, distributors push back harder than others when it comes to replacing ERP or other enterprise operational solutions and I have ideas about why…

IT Generational Gap

Large distributors don’t pop up overnight.  Often, their Internal IT teams grew from the ranks of employees over the years, so their knowledge is based entirely on the existing product mix. They have become experts at keeping their flavor of distribution software running, creating reports and other day-to-day requirements. They are not up to date on new infrastructure and modern distributor requirements and in many cases do not have the expertise to support new software.

As a result, the team is in no hurry to move their cheese.  Worse yet, distributors mired in older legacy software solutions often have a difficult time attracting younger employees just out of college. Recent bachelor and MBA graduates with degrees in IT realize that working with software from the 80’s or 90’s isn’t a great way to start their careers. As such, IT organizations are unable to create a healthy balance between younger and more experienced employees.

Highly modified or “home grown” software solutions

A distributor’s existing software may meet the firm’s present needs, since it is modified to do “exactly” what they need, but does it meet their future needs? As we have seen over the past few years, businesses evolve rapidly to meet the consumer’s climate. On top of this change, industry requirements are changing in order to catch up. Unfortunately, old distribution software usually does not mix well with new technology. So when new software needs to be installed out of necessity to survive, a lot of issues can arise.

In many cases, there is no documentation of processes or previous work. This is a major issue when training new employees and an even bigger challenge when coding is needed to make any new updates and additions to the software.

The Bait and Switch.

Fool me once…shame on the software reseller.  When they last purchased distribution software, they were sold a bill of goods. Back in the “good old days” the joke was – “you bought the demo not the software”! Think about what this means. Many legacy solutions were actually more manufacturing-focused than supply-chain focused. Yes, they had finance, inventory and order entry capabilities, but they were not for distributors. Distribution was viewed as the step-child of manufacturing – a remote stocking location!

Distribution Software Demo Parody

We can’t afford it

The delta between the cost of the last implementation and today’s new costs can be perceived as almost insurmountable to ownership. How do you justify using some of that slim margin for a true unknown such as a new software implementation? To make matters worse, that last implementation was likely 10, 15 or even 20 years ago when software and services were much less expensive.

Consolidation

Consolidation within both the software market and the distribution sector has made these buyers gun-shy.  The constant flow of software acquisitions over the years have confused potential users about software ownership, functionality and future viability. Distribution industry consolidations and acquisitions often cause delays in new software decisions. Why buy software if you are hoping to sell your company in the next 12 months?

Personal and professional costs

Career stability and advancement are major factors for decision makers. The company will invest a huge amount of money based on their recommendation. How will the firm react if it is the wrong decision? The distribution industry is a close-knit circle. How will their reputation be impacted if something goes wrong?

So why move forward at all?

Easy. Just look around.  The opportunity for distributors to improve revenue, margins, performance and customer loyalty through the smart use of technology has never been greater than it is today.

Advances in cloud computing make it easier to align operations across locations as distributors expand nationally or globally.  Distribution software has become more user-friendly and customizable to help companies bridge the gap from older legacy systems to newer more efficient systems.

Most importantly: Buyers expect distributors to provide a seamless, modern digital experience with the same bells and whistles they get with apps downloaded for free on their smart phone.  New employees are no different.  Anyone under thirty has grown up in a digital environment that lends no quarter to those behind the curve.  In an industry with razor-thin margins and competitors around every corner, only those that maximize the use of modern technology and provide the best possible customer experience will thrive.

Curated from Microsoft’s Distribution Software Portal for Enterprise Solutions

Both the consumer and the workforce population is changing. The workforce is aging and tech savvy millennials are entering as both consumers and employees. Customers today expect an experience that’s tailored to their needs that is seamless and delivers right away. They want to feel valued as customers and when they believe services and products are not up to par, they have a voice and also importantly a choice, their feedback is instant and swiftly posted on brands’ or third party social networks. This changing demographic means CPG and Distribution companies must have the infrastructure and talent to connect with customers on their terms. It means they must listen, learn, and respond using tools that integrate across channels.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/distribution

But, comfort and trust grounded in industry expertise is a must in order for distributors to move forward with new software acquisitions and implementation.  Without trust and demonstrated experience, no amount of IoT, analytics or fancy demos will convince companies to switch systems.  It is on those of us in the software industry to prove our worth.

I truly believe in AXIO for Distribution from SBS Group. We’ve applied industry best practices for distributors and made everything available in the cloud to minimize cost overrun exposure. This is a modern software solution built on distribution principles and implementation expertise. AXIO for Distribution paired with our distribution industry expertise is a pairing worthy of your attention. Trust us with your company, you don’t have to dread our innovative solution.

Dominic Telaro CFPIM, CIRM
Vice President Industry Solutions, SBS Group

Dominic Telaro brings over 35 years of Manufacturing, Distribution, Software and Dominic Telaro 001 IBIS DT 110113Consulting experience. Half of his professional career has been in Manufacturing and Distribution from shop floor and warehousing positions to management. During this time he implemented ERP, DRP and Logistics solutions as internal Project Leader. The second half of his career has been in consulting, product management, product development and both consulting and software sales. He has held positions as VP Of Industry Solutions, VP of Product Development, VP of Sales and Marketing and Global Practice Leader for companies like IBIS Inc., IBM, Janis Group, Metamor, Marcam Corp. and more. Presently he is responsible for Industry Product Vision for multiple ERP solutions at SBS Group USA.

APICS Fellow and Certified in Integrated Resource Management, Instructor at Universite de Montreal, Vanier College and Granby CEGEP for APICS certification; Lead instructor for internal APICS training at Bell Helicopter, Avon, Le Groupe Hamelin

Learn more about our Distribution Software solutions.

Videos of Microsoft Dynamics AX with AXIO Professional Services

SBS Group Earns Spot in Inc. Magazine’s 35th Annual List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies – the Inc. 5000

For the 5th time, SBS Group appears on the Inc. 5000 list, ranking NO. 3249.

inc 5000 2016Inc. magazine today ranked SBS Group NO. 3249 on its 35th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. This marks the 5th time SBS Group has been named to the Inc. 5000 after reporting a three-year sales growth of 103%. SBS Group was previously ranked in the Inc. 5000 in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small businesses.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the country’s fastest growing companies for the fifth time,” said James R. Bowman, President and CEO. “SBS Group continues to see steady revenue growth along with the expansion of our client base and partner network. Our success is built on delivering exceptional service to our clients and an increased focus on technology integration in the cloud.”

The 2016 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at Inc.com is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a three-year growth of 433%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $200 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 640,000 jobs over the past three years, or about 8% of all jobs created in the entire economy during that period. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found athttp://www.inc.com/inc5000.

“The Inc. 5000 list stands out where it really counts,” says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “It honors real achievement by a founder or a team of them. No one makes the Inc. 5000 without building something great – usually from scratch. That’s one of the hardest things to do in business, as every company founder knows. But without it, free enterprise fails.”

The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring all the companies on the list will be held from October 18 through 20, in San Antonio, TX. Speakers include some of the greatest entrepreneurs of this and past generations, such as best-selling author and strategist Tony Robbins, SoulCycle co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, Cornerstone OnDemand founder, president and CEO Adam Miller, Marvell Technology Group director and co-founder Weili Dai, and New Belgium Brewing co-founder and executive chair Kim Jordan.

CONTACT:

Chris Wasilewski
cwasilewski@sbsgroupusa.com
105 Fieldcrest Avenue, Suite 404
Edison, NJ 08837
Phone: 732.243.0672

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.

More about Inc. and the Inc. 500|5000

Methodology
The 2016 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2012 to 2015. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2012. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2015. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2012 is $100,000; the minimum for 2015 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

About Inc. Media:
Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 15,000,000 today. For more information, visit http://www.inc.com.

The Inc. 5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list of the nation’s most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates their remarkable achievements. The event also offers informative workshops, celebrated keynote speakers, and evening functions.

For more information on Inc. and the Inc. 5000 Conference, visit http://conference.inc.com/.


To read the full release, click here.

SBS Group to be Exhibitor at the Dynamics GP Users Group Summit 16

The conference will be held in Tampa, FL for Microsoft Dynamics GP users.

SBS Group, a leading information technology services and consulting firm, has announced they will be attending the Dynamics GP Users Group Summit 16. SBS Group will be an exhibitor at the conference.

dynamics gp user group summitThe Dynamics GP User Group Summit 16 will be held at Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, FL on October 11 – 14, 2016. The four day conference will feature training sessions and demonstrations with all topics focusing on Microsoft Dynamics GP. The Dynamics GP User Group is a group of professionals interested leveraging and optimizing the use of Microsoft Dynamics GP in their businesses.

As an exhibitor, SBS Group will be present throughout the duration of the conference. SBS Group will have its own booth, Booth 1013, for users to visit and interact with Dynamics GP experts. SBS Group has over 25 years of experience implementing and consulting on Dynamics GP solutions for small and medium-sized businesses nationwide.

“Microsoft’s announcement of Dynamics 365 and the release of Dynamics GP 2016 earlier this year brings some additional excitement to this year’s Dynamics GP User Group Summit,” said James Bowman, President and CEO of SBS Group. “As our Dynamics GP user base continues to grow, we are eager to connect with our GP clients, and other users, to hear their thoughts on GP 2016 and the upcoming release of Dynamics 365.”

Learn more information about the Dynamics GP User Group Summit 16 and register here.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

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