In 1997, a little company was founded in Scotts Valley, California. A few months later, this company launched a website featuring just over 900 movie titles that could be rented through the mail. Ten years later, its website began offering video on demand. More than two decades after this little rent-by-mail DVD service began, it is one of the top video streaming services in the US, featuring movies, TV shows, and original content.

Netflix was by definition “disruptive technology,” pioneering many of the practices that would eventually contribute to shuttering popular video stores like Blockbuster and prompting many users to “cut the cable” and move to streaming services only for their viewing content.

Disruptive technology is just that: disruptive to the norms. Is it possible to prep for upcoming disruptive technology and change? We think so.

Get ready: Five Tactics for Companies Looking to Grow

Technology has been disrupting businesses for decades. Valued Acumatica Resellers (VARs) have already experienced this disruption with Acumatica’s cloud ERP solution regularly shaking up the ERP establishment since its launch in 2008. With a platform based on modern, mobile technology, Acumatica’s innovative cloud-based ERP solution adapts to companies’ evolving needs.

This adaptability is just one strategy any company can use to foster growth in an ever-changing marketplace. Here are five more:

1. Push Decision-Making to the Level Closest to the Customer

The single most important issue impacting many businesses today is the need to streamline decision making by pushing that decision making to the level closest to the customer.

If you’re wondering what the level closest to the customer is, the answer might surprise you. The level closest to the customer is … the customer!

The days of making prospects or customers wait is over. Can your prospects and customers contact your company 24/7 on the device of their choosing and get an accurate answer to their question, comment, or concern? If they can’t, they may take their business elsewhere. In the internet age, if you don’t give your customers or prospects a stellar experience when they contact your company, they can find a replacement or alternative vendor in six seconds or less.

According to Forrester Research, 72 percent of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email. More than 40 percent of customers who contact a call center (or sales representative) do so only after they have looked for support via self-service.

How much self-service content exists on your website or customer portal? If the answer is “not much,” beware that you could effectively be sending customers to competitors.

2. Pragmatic Technology is a Must

There is a lot of talk out there around artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robots, and many other tech evolutions. Does any of this technology have a place in a company like yours? Absolutely.

Let’s start with radio frequency identification (RFID). RFID tags and scanners are now commonplace in many industries and its application is well documented. In addition to accuracy, RFID brings control, speed, and efficiency to the picking, packing, and RMA processes. Many manufacturing and distribution companies are now taking RFID to the next step. Voice recognition is being used in environments where the noise level allows for it. Employees can now use an equivalent of “Alexa” to help pick and pack in areas where your hands are tied up and not available.

Companies are also putting scanners on forklifts to scan in real time as the drivers are moving around the warehouse. Several distributors are even using drones to take inventory in areas where they have extremely large environments (think a nursery with tens of thousands of trees and shrubs over thousands of acres), or using robots to move inventory around or take inventory in situations where the elements make it less desirable for humans. Businesses must be able to give accurate information to their customers or prospects, and this can be done much better with technology.

3. Pick in Waves

Wave picking can not only help you become more effective in managing routing and loading, it can also help you manage arrival and departure times at busy loading docks.

Wave picking is a great example of bringing together software, hardware, and people to create a true competitive advantage for your company. Conversely, organizations with large warehouses and tens of thousands (or more) SKUs that do not use wave picking could find themselves unable to compete in the marketplace. Since wave picking is now generally considered to be a standard business practice, if your current ERP solution cannot help you implement this strategy, it could be holding you back.

4. Cycle Counting

As alluded to above, many companies are now using scanners that are attached to their forklifts and other devices to keep an up-to-the-moment picture of their inventory. Once an automated and perpetual cycle counting process is successfully implemented, businesses can effectively eliminate the need to shut down warehouses for periodic counting.

Being able to pick, ship, and pack 24/7 is part of the new reality for many in the distribution world. Companies like Amazon have created new expectations for customers, disrupting the industry. Not being able to ship because you are shut down for a cycle count is unacceptable in this new paradigm.

5. Cross-Module Functionality

Many companies today still have a business management “solution” that has been cobbled together over the last couple decades. They may have one solution for financials, a different solution for manufacturing, a completely different solution for field service, and totally separate CRM, commerce, and portal applications.

Rather than have many different systems managing their organizations, some companies decide to not even go there. They don’t service the equipment they sell—missing out on a profitable revenue stream. They do not effectively manage their customer service center because they can’t get accurate and timely information to the people on the line.

Many companies work in a “past tense” reality. Because it can take days or weeks to get final numbers, managers and line level employees are always working with outdated information. If a company could get real-time updates for all customers throughout the customer lifecycle, they could dramatically improve customer loyalty and overall profitability. The same is true of disjointed customer relationship management systems (CRM), route tracking and management, and many other mission-critical aspects of a business that run separately or loosely integrated today.

Today’s business solutions should be totally open, integrated, and free of silos. You can’t empower your people or push decision making to the level closest to the customer without a fully integrated business management solution, such as Acumatica cloud ERP.

Disrupt Your Business With Acumatica Cloud ERP

Disruption is happening every day, and the continual blending of technology with people and process is sure to bring many additional changes. Because of these changes, companies need to focus on digital transformation.

Additionally, when you think about how you will continue to meet the expectations of the marketplace, drive decision making to the level closest to the customer, and implement next-generation concepts and technologies, you need a business solution that focuses on both technology and community. People are still a mission-critical component of a successful company.

Ultimately, you need a powerful community that includes your software provider and a trusted business advisor who will help you implement the above strategies to grow your business. Acumatica provides just such a community.

ASI has decades of experience with disruptive technology—and Acumatica Cloud ERP. With its full suite of integrated business management applications, Acumatica Cloud provides a complete, real-time view of your business to help you track, plan, and move ahead into whatever the future holds. Find out how Acumatica Cloud ERP can benefit your business today with a free software consultation.