Now, this isn’t just another “what’s Amazon doing?” discussion, but by all means includes your customary competitors too.

Given the speed of change in wholesale-distribution, particularly in the “business value,” every wholesale distributor will need to project that operational excellence (OPEX) will become more commonplace as a mission critical objective.

It’s not “new-news” that wholesale distributors operate in an era of frequent, if not constant and rapid, change. And the change seems to be moving faster, doesn’t it? Maybe even pushing deeper, isn’t it?

It surely opens up a raft of opportunities (and threats) that will need to be seized upon and/or mitigated. This is not just about the constant drone of Amazon you hear about, but what you can expect from your customary competitors who are already making the transition to a leaner speed of flow and a greater business intelligence utilization environment?

What does the future hold? What are the trends that will drive fundamental changes to your ways of working?

Surely, this means continuing to make processes simpler, easier, and better. But it also means going beyond those basics and looking at how technologies can enable new ways of delivering value, freeing up employees for more productive and creative tasks.

Successful business operations of the future won’t be driven merely by the principles of “process re-engineering” and “function” but will also incorporate “design” and “form”. It won’t be enough to have processes that merely work. Business processes will need to become engaging and more understanding of how to help people — whether employees or customers — driving the desirable outcomes. That’s the key! Those that anticipate and drive this future will most effectively deliver value to their organizations and their customers.

Maybe this will hold true, maybe not. But the overall message seems to be clear; it will impact the way companies approach process excellence in the near-term.


  • Successful companies will manage their processes as strategic assets;
  • Flexibility will be built into processes to enable rapid business change;
  • Customers and employees will impact the design of processes;
  • Companies will (need to) dramatically increase investment in process automation capabilities;
  • Incorporating data into processes will be a key focus; and
  • Getting the process basics right will be the critical foundation


For some companies, this vision of the future is probably not substantially different from their current reality because they already view their processes as strategic assets. There are those who are already exploring new ways. There are already those who are innovating and improving processes from a customer’s perspective. And most likely, different companies will be dependent on their own market and industry forces that will affect how they design their processes.


A role that I think is sorely missing in most companies is one that I call a “process facilitator.” Maybe it’s in the information technology group or maybe elsewhere. It’s a person who looks at how all the different systems work together; understands how changes ripple through the network; and builds updates to form a more comprehensive, powerful system. It’s a process professional who leads, builds, maintains, and adjusts the process framework and then calibrates the outputs to what customers want and need — those desired outcomes I speak of.


Clearly, it’s impossible to predict the future in its entirety, but it is possible to extrapolate how it might change in the future and how we might operate — how you come up with new ways of delivering value and improvements through processes; better…simpler…cheaper.

The trade-off of the time invested to yield cost savings and customer service advantages versus winning the battle with competitors that are trying to achieve the same goals requires enough foresight to see the value in dedicating the personnel and the investment in process improvement disciplines.

As the old saying goes…”the only thing predictable about the future is that it will be different”. So, start to plan now. How will you impact your organization and begin to orient the ship towards the future?

Publication date: 8/28/2017