Expert Insight: Guest Contribution
By Scott Deutsch,
Director of Marketing, Vocollect, Inc.
Date: October 21, 2009

Giving a Voice of Order at Today’s Best-in-Class Warehouse


Task Management through Voice Enablement - A Clear Voice in the Wilderness

I was reading Dan Gilmore’s article from September 10, 2009 entitled “Warehouse Management to the Rescue for Retail Out-of-Stocks,” and his creativity got me to think about adding further context about the execution of the perfect order.


For those not familiar with the article, Dan effectively was arguing for the application of WMS concepts to help address the ongoing healthcare system debate. His central point was that the operation of a modern WMS is built around the concept of “task management,” in which the WMS understands the work that needs to be performed, what operators are capable of doing it, and where they are. It then doles out the work electronically (radio frequency terminal, voice system) to the best worker or next-in-line worker for the task, and receives confirmation that the work was performed. Then, it’s on to the next task. You could even “interleave tasks,” meaning that different types of tasks can be combined to optimize efficiency. Do another task next to the one you just finished, for example, rather than travelling a distance to repeat the same type of task.

Characteristics of Best-in-Class DCs and Warehouses


Dan’s article made me think about why best-in-class distribution centers and warehouses make a commitment to “task management through voice-enablement” earlier than their competitors.  Why do best-in-class operations have the ability to “visualize” their business operation, when others can’t? How do best-in-class operations have the courage and foresight to look at their operations as “blocks of work” and want to make them better? When does a best-in-class distribution center make the management decision to take an active role in the company’s effort to improve its ability to provide superior customer service?

Opportunity for Smarter Business Execution


Which brings me back to Dan’s thought about applying WMS and task management concepts to other businesses.  Every distribution center and warehouse has had two main overarching business drivers since day one. First has been the need to deliver the desired product to the requestor as expected, when it is expected. We call this the ‘perfect order.’ Second is the need for the business to achieve this task in the most cost-effective and safe manner. The reason why voice-enabling the distribution center has because so popular is because the voice-enabling technology platform, when coupled with an ERP or WMS solution, addresses head-on these two business objectives.  Best-in-class operations understand that being able to deliver the perfect order will not, in and of itself, keep a business operating. They know that a perfect order needs also to be executed with the lowest possible cost, while protecting the safety of their employees. Driving bottom-line results is the absolute cornerstone of the overall operation.


Taken together, these two business motivations create an opportunity for smarter business execution. Best-in-class distributon centers and warehouses have understood this for years. Best-in-class businesses understand that challenging the business operation and helping take business performance to a higher level is their responsibility. I think Dan Gilmore asks the same for the healthcare industry. Why don’t other businesses do the same?


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About the Author


Scott Deutsch is the Director of Marketing at Vocollect, a leading provider of voice-enabling solutions for mobile workers.

Scott has 20 years of sales and marketing experience in vertical application software companies. His expertise is in the areas of developing successful communications and positioning strategies, as well as the creation of scalable channel strategies and programs.

Scott has held many corporate responsibilities, including managing the company’s strategic direction, sales and marketing, and product development. Previously, he founded Ardenno Solutions, a leading provider of knowledge management and collaboration solutions for research and development organizations. Deutsch has also held senior sales and marketing management positions at leading software companies such as The Baan Company, Prophet 21, LabVantage Solutions and Primavera Systems.


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Deutsch Says:

Best-in-class businesses understand that challenging the business operation and helping take business performance to a higher level is their responsibility.

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