June 10, 2005
Supply Chain Technology

Businesses today are driven by the technological revolution, which has eliminated the traditional limitations of time and space. Leaders have had to rethink their strategic direction as technology blurs industry boundaries and increases competitive activity.

Major advances in logistics, computer-aided design and communication enable marketers to more accurately segment consumer and business markets, and allow them to identify and efficiently service micro-markets in a cheaper, timelier manner. {{more}}This ability to serve market segments in ways that were previously physically impossible or prohibitively expensive only fuels customersí appetites for more specialized offerings. Technology is creating a hyper-competitive business environment with reduced time frames for strategic action, shorter product life cycles, and an increased focus on price, quality and customer satisfaction.

At St. Vincent Brewery Limited, we too have had to become tech-savvy to meet the demands of our customers and to stave off competitive threats. As of January 1, 2005, the Brewery commenced direct distribution system, our delivery trucks were equipped with wireless hand held computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) and printers. St. Vincent Brewery Limited is proud to be the first company in the OECS to employ the use of wireless technology in its delivery and invoicing process. Our customers receive invoices that itemize purchases, empties, deposits, cash tendered and change. The new system reduces mathematical errors during the delivery process, and enables faster data processing and more accurate reporting within the organization. The data from each PDA is uploaded to our accounting system on evenings, and a number of reports such as sales by driver, by item or by route are generated for decision making purposes.

Although the new business environment is primarily driven by technology, businesses are increasingly recognizing that the major source of competitive advantage is human resources. This may sound contradictory when machines are now doing more of the work previously done manually; but technology is knowledge-driven, and humans are needed to exploit that knowledge to better meet the needs of customers. We therefore applaud our distribution drivers, who for years used hand-written invoices, and paper and pen to perform their daily reconciliations, for the manner in which they readily embraced the new technology. We were also very pleased with the positive feedback from customers, which is an excellent indicator that we are doing things right at St. Vincent Brewery Limited.