At a global level, 53 percent of midmarket companies surveyed expect to increase their IT budget in 2011, compared with only 20 percent in 2010.
Newport Beach, Calif. (Vocus/PRWEB) February 28, 2011
It’s no question that midmarket companies are now more than ever a force to be reckoned with. Even though the economy is still licking its wounds from the downturn in 2008 and 2009, there are some who believe that midmarket businesses are largely responsible for helping to get things moving in the right direction again.
“Midmarket businesses are truly focused on using their resources to understand consumer demand and adapt to a changing business environment,” said Todd Kolber, vice president of sales at JustEnough Software, a leader in demand management for retailers, distributors and brand owners worldwide. “They watched as their larger counterparts faltered under the strain of the financial crisis, dishing out multiple and deep budget and job cuts to survive. Despite these economic conditions, many midmarket companies capitalized on their ability to be flexible and agile, readily adopting new processes and technology – i.e., cloud computing, e-retailing and mobile marketing – that could help them reduce costs while increasing revenues and market share.”
Poised for Growth: Midmarket Companies to Up IT Spend
A recent study tells us that we’ll continue to see a lot more growth in the midmarket this year1. Almost 80 percent of 2,000-plus midsized firms surveyed are making customers, innovation and growth their major priorities. That’s a significant jump from the mindset such businesses had in 2010, in which 53 percent of respondents said their primary concern was lowering costs and increasing efficiencies that year.
What’s even more telling is that at a global level, 53 percent of midmarket companies surveyed expect to increase their IT budget in 2011, compared with only 20 percent in 2010. For midsized retailers and consumer goods companies, improving customer service is one of their main goals this year.
Strategies to Help Midmarket Business Achieve Their Goals
It’s apparent that midmarket companies are ready and willing to take on new IT projects to achieve their top 2011 business objectives. But with both cost and the ability to undergo a major software implementation cited as barriers to success, what options do they have? JustEnough Software offers the following strategies to help midmarket companies drive growth and improve customer service levels while keeping costs down:
- Better understand demand across all channels. Today’s midmarket businesses can look like larger companies in terms of the channels with which they go to market. For instance, even a smaller company may have a robust online channel combined with a brick-and-mortar presence and catalog business. They may also have to deal with many of the same complexities and challenges that their larger counterparts face, such as providing a seamless shopping experience and ensuring product availability across all outlets. Midsized businesses should consider purchasing product for all channels concurrently in order to maximize their buying power. In order to do so, they must truly understand consumer demand across every channel. Having one view of demand not only helps streamline inventory management and increase cost efficiencies, but also ensures that everyone in the company is working off the same plan.
- Focus on planning before introducing new products. Everyone knows that the key to remaining competitive is to continuously bring new products to market. But with increasingly shorter product lifecycles, long manufacturing lead times and complexity stemming from global outsourcing, the burden of new product introduction is greater than ever. Companies of all sizes feel the pain – but a midmarket business will take a bigger hit financially if it fails to effectively bring new products to market.
It is crucial that midmarket companies plan, plan and plan some more before a new product launch. It starts with having a true understanding of consumer demand and integrating that information with merchandising and allocation plans that take product lead times into consideration. Figuring out future demand for a new product can be tricky; however, technology designed to handle the complexity and unpredictability of new product introductions can simplify the process. Midsized businesses should look for solutions that can help them easily generate profile demand curves for items based on comparable products or product categories. This helps them determine future sales, significantly minimizing risks associated with bringing new products to market.
- Take complexity out of the picture. In retail, assortments are critical to meeting consumer demand. The right mix of product down to the size and color attributes must be delivered to the right store at the right time. If planned incorrectly, the result is markdowns and lost revenues – not to mention customer dissatisfaction. There are many software products on the market that claim to help companies achieve this; however, midmarket firms should search for a solution that is demand driven and – just as critical – simple to understand and use. Tools with too many bells and whistles will just add complexity and inefficiencies to the business. It’s best for midmarket companies to select intuitive, user-friendly solutions that will help streamline their entire merchandise and assortment management process – from the planning side to the lowest level of product and store planning.
- Make deployment quick and painless. Midmarket businesses typically run very lean organizations. They cannot afford to tie up their people or money in lengthy software implementations. Software deployments that could last a year or longer to complete are simply not an option. Also, change management can present major challenges when bringing new technology and processes on board. It takes time and buy-in from users to learn how to leverage the tool to its full advantage.
Given these challenges, midmarket companies need quick time-to-value, simple solutions that will also save them money on the backend with minimal user training and turnover. That’s where cloud-based solutions come into play: companies that lack infrastructure and resources to deploy best-of-breed planning solutions in house are no longer relegated to using homegrown or inadequate systems. Midsized businesses now have access to advanced demand planning software via cloud-based platforms. A company’s information is often safer in the cloud because providers that offer this technology focus fully on up time and data security. In many cases, as midsized businesses grow in size and complexity, they can opt to expand the functionality of their cloud-based solutions and even bring them in house. The result is a flexible, accurate and automated solution designed to help companies of any size solve their most pressing demand management problems.
As the economy recovers, midsized firms will continue to set the pace in terms of finding breakthrough innovations that are cost effective and allow them to increase productivity and streamline efficiencies. Simple, easy-to-install solutions that use consumer insights to generate optimized assortments, allocation and replenishment plans, demand plans and sales forecasts can help midsized companies gain one view of demand, better plan new product launches, improve merchandise and assortment planning, as well as capitalize on growth opportunities.
JustEnough provides cutting-edge demand management solutions to more than 500 of the world’s leading brands on a variety of platforms, including OnCloud, OnSite and OnMobile. For more information, visit http://www.justenough.com or e-mail info(at)justenough(dot)com.
1. IBM Worldwide Study, “Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective,” January 2011, http://www.ibm.com
Founded in 1994, JustEnough is a global leader in Demand Management solutions. JustEnough services more than 500 of the world’s leading brands including Allocation and Replenishment of inventory at Kenneth Cole, Merchandise and Assortment Planning at Levi Strauss, Sales Forecasting at Kraft Foods, and Inventory Planning for IDS Group (Li & Fung) and Nissan.
OnCloud, OnSite and OnMobile, JustEnough’s Demand Management solutions, help retailers, distributors and brand owners to forecast their customer demand, plan their assortments, allocations and inventory, shape their demand and then execute on those plans. JustEnough is headquartered in the United States with offices worldwide. Learn more at http://www.justenough.com.
# # #