FORT WORTH, Texas -- Building on its foundational enterprise software, PDI officials announced pivotal changes in its upcoming Enterprise 8 release at its 2015 users’ conference, with continued migration to web-browser configuration, greater data-transfer standardization and increased mobile and handheld flexibility.
About 500 attendees in the opening general session on Sunday listened to PDI executives and product managers detail upgrades in application features and outline fundamental changes to its platform, reflecting what many referred to as an evolution towards more web-based and mobile technology.
Taking the stage at the general session, Justin Baxley, product manager for Temple, Texas-based PDI, compared the current flowchart of PDI’s data process to a “subway map” and how the new process will allow store-level handheld devices to wirelessly upload data directly to host computers in real time.
Though many of the educational classes at the meeting--running from September 13 to September 16 in Fort Worth, Texas--varied from broad strokes to the highly technical, officials spoke about the new version of PDI’s enterprise product being poised to address a number of evolutionary issues:
- Real-time inventory. With handheld devices moving from “batch” processing to real time, retailers would see numerous benefits in item movement, but would also have to consider a number of processes and software upgrades to reap the benefits of greater inventory visibility.
- Improved standardized communication. At its core, the new version moves away from proprietary Microsoft language and protocols to standards more in line with web-based and mobile technologies, repositioning the new platform for innovation in those areas.
- Mobile. The changes open up greater uses for tablets, phones and handheld devices in store operations.
- Market-basket analytics and vendor data transfer. The new version also incorporates a market-basket component, which will better facilitate the use of store-level data to develop reports and transmit data to meet emerging vendor requirements.
- Better forecasting and control. The new options allow for more accurate forecasting and reordering, with controls offered at any level of the operation to avoid out-of-stocks during seasonal or event-driving rushes and overstock on normalized sales periods.
Other opening session presentations covered improvements in wholesale fuel operations, the preparation necessary to upgrade to the new enterprise version and continued development in PDI’s labor-scheduling solution, introduced last year.
PDI officials also noted the company's recent investor buyout to claim independence from its former owners, wholesale distribution giant McLane, also based in Temple, Texas. Many officials indicated the potential for the newly independent company to grow in any number of ways—upstream, downstream or cross-channel—via organic growth or acquisition.