Strategic Planning and Technology for Apparel and Textile Mfg – Developing a Competitive Advantage

In my 25 years of experience as a Management and Technology Consultant, I have found one common denominator among apparel and textile companies’ and that is that they have major weaknesses when it comes to their ability to plan strategically and apply the use of technology.

The apparel and textile industries have long suffered from loss of market share, U.S. manufacturing capability and jobs, ability to respond to cost management and the overall ability to consistently generate a profit.

Effective strategic planning provides a blueprint for developing capabilities which can keep companies ahead of the curve, more profitable and competitive. A complete evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats along with providing apparel and textile executives with the tools and understanding to implement and follow a strategic action plan is a key component to staying healthy and in business.

During many of my strategic engagements, I find that executives and managers are inexperienced at thinking outside of the box and understanding how to direct their teams to move in the direction of strategic thinking.

As a strategic coach, I teach owners and managers how to create a solid strategic plan and evaluate major issues, roadblocks and opportunities, as well as, create ideas for future improvement. It is important to determine what the future idealistic state of the business will be and develop action plans to move toward those goals.

The area of use of technology by apparel and textile companies has long been a major roadblock to these firms being able to quickly respond to market influences, reduce the cost of operations and provide meaningful real- time event management and reporting that aids in making correct on-the-spot decisions.

As we look back on the demise of the American textile industry, we are reminded of companies like Burlington Industries, Cone Mills, Cannon Mills and many others who could not see the impact that technology could have on their businesses and would not spend important dollars on technology investments. We watched as plants closed because they could not implement cost saving technology products and that would make machinery and employees more efficient and cost effective. We see the American automotive industry moving in the same direction and closing plants in the U.S. while the Japanese and Germans are building new plants.

It was not long ago that the apparel and textile trade shows took up multiple locations and hundreds of thousands of square feet of showroom space in Atlanta and Las Vegas and now are taking place in one corner of one building. This is a testament to how these industries are failing to stay profitable, competitive and in business.

The use of business intelligence applications is a very good example of how mid-sized apparel and textile firms are missing the boat when it comes to understanding how to let technology applications work for them. The ability exists to immediately generate paperless dashboard reports on critical conditions in their operations and, also, create a culture where managers are evaluating and fixing those conditions. However, mid-sized apparel and textile companies are still tied to expensive static spreadsheets, paper reports and high-cost labor to create them.

The development of key performance indicators (KPI’s) and metrics is an essential component of strategic planning. KPI’s give the owners and senior managers to monitor how their operations and employees perform and is a critical step in the planning process. It is important to teach their managers how to implement performance tools and KPI reporting.

A vital factor of creating competitive advantages is the understanding of business process management and performance engineering. In my strategic planning sessions, we go through a number of exercises which are geared toward training managers to think entrepreneurially and develop a performance mentality. The results are dramatic when individuals who have the ability to make change understand what the performance factors are and develop the skills to implement them.

Another technology area that apparel and textile companies should begin to invest and utilize is sales optimization tools. Sales optimization products are developed to automate order taking by their customers’ buyers and make the experience faster and easier. Additional products, which can aid the sales force, are mobility application dashboards to review bookings, sales, inventory and determine which products are currently selling at major retailers locations geographically.

My hopes for the apparel and textile industries are that they begin to create competitive advantages through strategic planning and investing in technology products so they can survive and that we can protect our economy and jobs with what remains of these industries.

How Multi-Touch Technology Is Helping Kids Learn Through Computers

You may not have noticed anything special in using computers. In fact, you can even treat it as one of the most routine tasks in your life. You consider using your mouse or keyboard to interact with data on the screen as one of the most normal occurrences in your daily professional life. However, for most kids aged four and below, it is not exactly the same thing. Holding a mouse is not exactly one of their best points which are why several multi-touch technology applications are being developed to help kids learn and use computers.

You may have already known that toddlers and small kids are always drawn to objects with attractive colors. This is why most plastic toys for toddlers and kids have different bright colors because it has been discovered that they are attracted to these shapes and colors. Developers and programmers have also chipped in by making educational programs that would appeal to kids. This was met with little success, however, because most kids that are four years old and below do not know how to use their parents’ computers. The program could have really been successful if the kids who use it knew how to manipulate the objects and colors on their screen.

In the past, you may have noticed toddlers, and yes, small kids, try to use computers to no avail. They may be interested in using the machine to manipulate the colors and objects that they see displayed on the screen, but they cannot do so because they are unable to control mouse movements. You would see them become frustrated and then just walk away after trying so hard.

It is a good thing that multi-touch technology was conceived because it makes possible for toddlers and small kids to interact with the objects on the display screen by using their hands and fingers. This way, the child learns to use computers in an enjoyable and fulfilling manner. Computers, as a learning tool for kids, would now be more friendly and easy to use.

Take for instance an interactive computer puzzle that has a variety of shapes and colors. In a standard computer, interacting with the objects on the screen would involve the use of the mouse and keyboard to put the shapes in their proper places. Even for kids who already knew how to use the mouse and keyboard, this would be a rather arduous process for them because of the click-hold-and-drag property of the educational game. With multi-touch technology integrated into the same game, interacting with the objects on the screen would be a cinch for these kids. They now would be moving the shapes around and putting them on their proper places just like a normal puzzle set.

There are still a lot of areas where multi-touch technology can help kids learn through the use of computers. Multi-touch is an exciting technology which will surely provide kids with a lot of ease in learning through computers.

Android Developers – Developing a Cutting-Edge Android OS and Applications

Are you aware of the latest mobile phone developments? Technology evolves tremendously and you should chase every progress of it in order not to be left behind. The trend of technology innovations is moving too fast. That is why some people cannot be able to catch up with the latest updates about the best and newest products of technology. Whether we like it or not, we cannot stop or control the rapid pace of every development in technological applications and products. Today, we are living in the modern era and we need to embrace and adapt what technology has brought for us. The fastest development of technology is found in the advancement of mobile phones. Every year or even every 3 months, there are new models of phones released in the market. Currently, the latest mobile phones are smart phones and android phones. Smart phones and android developers are both determined to develop more enhancements most especially in the operating systems and software applications. However, android phones have more features and a stronger platform foundation. These are the factors that make the android phones turn out to be better than smart phones.

Android developers have developed an extensive and a cutting-edge application development. The objective of the development for the android operating system and applications is to provide users with a handy operational phone. There are so many dynamic features that can be used freely by the android users. Like the application framework that enables you to customise, change and reuse its components. The open development platform of android phones is providing the users with rich useful features. It is built with an open source operating system that is why you can possibly download or install any android or other apps because it can be recognised by the android’s OS and platform. The richness with the innovative applications in the android phones is worth the price. Most people prefer to buy mobile phones that can access almost all applications. Android phones are the most reliable mobile phone that can provide users’ demand. In fact, other phone manufacturers want to take advantage of android’s rapid and astounding development. Their objective is to make a good partnership with the android manufacturer because they know that they can’t compete with it in the market. Android phones’ acquisition creates remarkable impressions to the consumers and phone marketers as well.

Software application developers successfully provided solution to the compatibility issues to other mobile phones and in synchronizing apps mainly in gaming. There are three android operating systems that have been created magnificently by the professional developers. These are the Froyo, Gingerbread and ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich). These improve the interface of android phones to make it more advanced.

Women Developing Mobile Technologies

A major investment in the future of women in technology industries is being made by an all too uncommon new start-up accelerator called Women Innovate Mobile (WIM). It is WIM’s intention is to foster women entrepreneurs, provide constructive feedback, and to assist start-ups in managing a long list of business concerns related to running a mobile development company in addition to concerns related to being a female entrepreneur.

Earlier this month WIM began accepting applications from companies owned or co-owned by a woman and a product associated with mobile technology. WIM is offering office space free of charge to two to five mobile start-ups. Included in the package is investment capital, and access to mentoring and leadership skills. Education regarding networking skills is also an item on the agenda when a company decides to participate in an accelerator program; providing one of the many entrepreneurial women seeking assistance access to networks and other support systems previously inaccessible to many small business owners. Before the inception of WIM, women were even more seriously underserved by male dominated business accelerators. Women Innovate Mobile is first such accelerator dedicated to female enfranchisement in the mobile tech world.

Start ups are on the rise this year; they are anticipated to reach the highest numbers seen in fifteen years. Even with positive numbers like that, women only represent thirty-five percent of start-up owners. A trend WIM intends to see turned around and more balance between men and women owned new start-up companies. In the interest of fostering that balance WIM is focusing on mobile tech companies. WIM would of course love to see the next generation of mobile technology, applications and devices, come from one of these groups nurtured by the emergent acceleration program. With most investors still being men some women are resistant to asking for help, WIM works hard to increase visibility and approachability amongst women and the sources of capital funds to a realize entrepreneurial goals.

The efforts of WIM and similar organization have seen success promoting women owned startups are responsible for the small three percent growth in overall ownership. They believe they have much more work to do to accomplish their exponentially more far-reaching long-term goals. With help from other start-ups and successful venture capitalists may very well see their goal realized sooner rather than later. Seeing as employment levels in the United States is below appropriate levels according to anyone personal metrics. Seeing growth in business startup activity is music to the ears of investors and economists all over the world. Seeing that growth fueled by entrepreneurial women should be as likely and it should occur just as often as any other group of dedicated business developers.