May 19, 2020

Honeywell Vocollect: The Technology behind the Supply Chain on Cyber Monday

Supply Chain
Darrel Williams
3 min
Honeywell Vocollect: The Technology behind the Supply Chain on Cyber Monday

The pre-Christmas period is considered to be peak time for all retailers – both online and multi-channel. Research by Accenture shows that almost a third of UK shoppers plan to increase their holiday spend this year, leaving retailers busier than ever before.

For some, Christmas shopping starts as early as September, for others (the more disorganised of us perhaps) the shopping begins on Christmas Eve. But for those in the know, US retail milestones such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a key event – with over 80 percent of customers planning to do their seasonal shop on these days.

The boom of e- and (more recently) m-commerce gives that added sense of flexibility to consumers. They can shop from the comfort of their own home or when they are out and about. But no matter where they order from, customers still expect a smooth and easy experience with the purchases being delivered quickly and efficiently.

 Increasing demand during peak times should in no way affect customer experience, which is why carefully planned logistics and supply chain processes are crucial in this busy period.

Temporary workers vs. Increased demand

When consumers take advantage of these ‘deal days’ retailers and their supply chain need to ensure they have the right planning processes in place to cater for the surge in activity.

Every order placed could be picked up by a temporary worker brought on to alleviate some of the strain. In the fast-paced environment these new staff need to get in, get trained, and get picking. The type of technology used cannot be overly complicated, as it has to help workers navigate clearly and efficiently but also have the ability to adapt to unexpected changes in frequency seamlessly.

With voice solutions, workers can be trained and work autonomously quickly and become experts on every process required within the warehouse. Interestingly, voice-directed technology has proven to be increasingly effective and flexible across both the warehouse and supply chain.

Cooperation not automation

The growing popularity of online shopping, Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday will continue to put pressure on supply chain and retailers. The key to success is planning for increased demand and finding the middle ground that makes the best of both human and machine capabilities.

Voice directed work aims to bridge this human-technology divide. Using headsets, the worker reads out details of each individual step of the task they are working on, checking off instructions as they go.

This type of working keeps staff agile and motivated, working to automated instructions yet able to adapt to new tasks quickly. Honeywell’s Vocollect voice solutions have been shown to increase efficiency levels by 20 percent in many warehouses, with a proven accuracy rate of 99.98 percent.

Although technology has made vast improvements in the efficiency of the logistics and supply chain industry, it cannot cater for increased demand patterns alone. Ultimately, peak orders are going to be processed and delivered by people – and it is they who will make the difference.

By Darrel Williams, Regional Director, Northern Europe and South Africa, Honeywell Vocollect Solutions

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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