I have been reading lately a little bit about the Great Leap Forward in evolution. Not the terrible time in China in 1958-61 when the regime may have killed over 20 million citizens. The Great Leap was an event when mankind (homo sapiens) suddenly changed about 50,000 years ago. We suddenly changed and started showing advanced thinking such as problem solving, music, compex language, bartering, and trade with other groups. Commerce. (suddenly is a great concept in sociology… Really means over a few dozen generations, so a few hundred years. Not exactly precision!)
Where are we in the scale of ‘Retail Evolution?’ Are we evolving slowly or has the last 10-20 years been a Great Leap? Or just small linear progression ? Natural evolution?
Think back 20 years : POS, Merch, Inventory, AP, etc were reasonably close to what it is today. Slower, more manual, but the basics were similar. (sorry systems friends… But its pretty true)
What has changed is the speed, the connectivity, the Ecom, the Globalization. And the Analytics. And Analytics drives Business. (feel like I heard they somewhere before)
The analytics into merchandising have been revolutionary; we look at size, color, brand supply chain, and more recently pricing. Optimization is a great buzzword. Optimization using machine learning to predict tne future based on the past to determine the right product at the right time in the right amount at the right price.
The increase power has lead to increased speed, led to great strides in the decision chain as well as the supply chain. And great gains in profitability – which compensates for the huge increase in competition. (hopefully)
But is it a Great Leap Forward or just a point on the curve ramping up through technology? In other words, are we going to look back 15 years from now and see these things as a foundation of a process that evolved? Or will we look at it as the ‘next-gen people’ look at ‘cavemen’ and wonder how we lived like that?
If optimization and analytics is just a small step in the natural progression, what would a GREAT Leap be???
Start the Revolution.
–That Planning Guy