Mechanizing large sales networks
First of all, let me define what I am focusing on: A large sales network is a distributed network that sells a specific range of products and/or services in a large geographical scale and/or from a large number of outlets (outlet being a dealership, a franchisee etc.). Usually, this network is operated by a “big” enterprise (not an SME), such as an exclusive importer in a country or the franchisor etc. Up until today – because of the fact that the network operator is a large enterprise – it is more than likely that software systems have been deployed by this entity to mechanize this or the other network operation. Some typical functions that the Operator would like to streamline are incoming sales orders from the network, visibility of stocks across that network etc. If the operator has been around for some time, it is more than likely that they have deployed some kind customized web-based system to execute these functions. They have either developed it in-house or they have purchased some customizable platform.
Having defined the scope of this discussion, let’s see what are the challenges that these networks are facing and how SaaS can help them:
But if the outlets were working in a multi-tenant SaaS environment, they could have access to one common customer database, while still keeping their privacy on other, more personal data (such as volume of sales, local accounting etc.). Naysayers will argue that sharing the customer database is a bad practice; and maybe they are right – in case of competing outlets. But it is possible that the outlets are not in fact competing with each other if, for example, the outlets are geographically too far apart. Anyway, this is business discussion which does not concern the technology issue that we are discussing here.
There are more comments that one could make on this issue, but using a little of technology and a little of the sales process itself, I think it is now evident how an architecture of centralized software can help the network operator. Now, there is one more question to answer: this deployment will be done on a private or public cloud? This is a question that I’ll try to answer in one of my next posts.