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Cloud Computing: Distribution


Coca-Cola Enterprises uses a cloud-based system to streamline operations with merchandisers in the field

Coca-Cola Enterprises' (CCE) 12,000 store merchandisers used to operate like ants that had strayed from the colony. They picked up instructions at a warehouse in the morning, did their rounds of stores, and checked in again with the boss at the end of the day. Mostly they were on their own. It wasn't ideal. One problem: They couldn't adjust during the day to changing needs.

Those days are over for the merchandisers responsible for restocking Coke products in stores and setting up displays. Using smartphones and a cloud computing setup supplied by Antenna Software, they stay in constant touch with their bosses and the company's information storehouse. At the end of each stop, they complete online surveys that give the company a complete picture of sales trends and relationships with store managers in real time. "It's great for me. I don't have to do any paperwork. I just tap my fingers," says Troy Fitchett, a CCE merchandiser in Atlanta.

EYE IN THE SKY

CCE shows how companies can improve their distribution systems with a combination of mobile devices and cloud computing. Other companies that use Antenna's service for their distribution operations include Xerox (XRX), DirecTV (DTV), Pitney Bowes (PBI), and AT&T (T).

At CCE, using the survey information and GPS, merchandiser managers can watch their workers' movements on maps and change their schedules on the fly depending on shifting needs. If a merchandiser falls behind, the boss sees a red alert icon next to the employee's profile. They can rejigger schedules to dole out tasks more evenly.

The system has been in use only since December, but CCE is already seeing benefits. Merchandisers now drive to the head office once a month rather than daily, and their total driving time has been reduced by 75%.

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