The market is constantly changing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic puts a stop to non-essential travel, technology is becoming a critical component in adapting to the latest disruption.

In one study, 80 per cent of senior executives agreed that collaboration is essential for revenue growth, but only 25 per cent described their organisations as ‘effective’ in sharing information across boundaries.

With the recent coronavirus pandemic and other global marketplace shifts, it has become clear to companies around the world just how critical remote collaboration is. And it doesn’t just happen. It needs to be facilitated and nurtured with the right digital transformation solutions.

According to GlobalData apparel correspondent Michelle Russell, technology is now taking a front seat in communication between clothing brands and suppliers.

"Buyers are now having to rethink how they work with manufacturers on orders and product design.

"Companies are also now having to find new ways of staying in touch that they haven't considered previously.

"So, having the right technology in place to enable a company to keep information flowing across its supply chain has now become imperative if they want to remain operational."

Russel cites fast fashion chain Next as an example, with a number of digital tools currently being used to facilitate sampling, product development and collaboration.

"Next will come out of the process with the ability to communicate with potentially more manufacturers than it was previously, and this may be the case with many retailers and brands," she says.

"They will inevitably find more efficient and cost-effective ways of working once this pandemic is over and normal business is resumed."

Below, we look at some of the Centric solutions that can facilitate digital collaboration.

Choose the right solution

Choosing the right solution can be a challenge.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using single-function solutions and ending up with a lot of disparate systems and messaging mediums.

If your teams are simultaneously sending attachments in e-mails, participating in discussions on Slack and sharing documents in Dropbox, things will inevitably get missed.

Many companies are turning towards all-encompassing, integrated enterprise solutions that can handle all of the communication and collaborative work involved in product design, development and launch in a single digital space, such as Centric PLM.

PLM and mobile apps

Centric PLM provides the backbone for product-related processes from concept to retail. By providing the most up-to-date information in real time, PLM solutions eliminate version control errors and provide a ‘single source of the truth’.

Because it contains all product-related data, tracks changes made to that data, and empowers interactive communication that is visually linked to the product it refers to in real time, PLM is the ultimate collaborative tool, replacing the mix of e-mails, Excel spreadsheets, PDF attachments and instant messaging that many companies still rely on.

Centric customers also benefit from industry-first technology such as Mobile Apps. These apps empower remote working, significantly speed up time to market, and reduce labour and raw material costs and other expenses.

The Sample Review App is particularly useful when reacting to marketplace influences such as the Coronavirus; technical developers no longer have to attend physical fit meetings, rekey notes or even use paper versions of the tech pack to record results.

With this app, they can remotely create style reviews, record notes, capture photos, and add annotations during the reviews. All the data is synced to the PLM system in the background, eliminating rework and eradicating bottlenecks!

Game-changing digital touchscreen technology

However, for a lot of businesses, some processes still take place outside of traditional PLM solutions such as the earliest phases of design concept planning and ideation to regional, internal buying sessions from the global collection.

Fortunately, the borders of Centric Software’s technology continue to expand. Innovative, game-changing, collaboration tools such as Centric’s Digital Boards that can pull and push data to and from any PLM or PDM systems empower companies to better collaborate, combine expertise and speed group decision making.

Empower group decision making with the Centric Digital Concept Board

By replacing processes that traditionally depend on paper and mood boards or combinations of Excel sheets and digital images, this family of highly visual, digital boards for touchscreen devices move decisions to a fully digitalised, collaborative experience.

Take the pre-PLM process of design ideation. Whether you design and manufacture in-house, use suppliers to create products to your specifications or source finished products, there is likely to be some form of planning meeting where creative team members – artistic directors, designers, product developers, merchandisers and buyers – come together to define early plans and concepts for the latest collection.

Replacing physical, paper-based documents created during meetings with digital collaborative touchscreen boards that everyone can contribute to in real-time transforms the process of group decision making.

Team members can use master data from Centric PLM or other systems to begin building collections, keeping and discarding ideas, making notes, adding images with a simple drag and drop, and taking actionable decisions immediately.

Transform buying sessions and optimise sell-through with the Centric Digital Buying Board

Digital collaborative touchscreen boards can be extremely useful for merchandisers and buyers to increase sales opportunities and improve sell-through for wholesale, retail and e-commerce channels.

Replacing complex systems of comparing and combining Excel sheets, images and PDFs that are time-consuming and generate data errors and version control issues, Centric’s Digital Buying Board provides unparalleled transparency and real-time visibility in an easy to use space – on a tablet or a web browser – that can automatically roll up buying information and requirements for multiple channels.

Giving greater control to buyers and sales for product allocation by channel, region, wholesaler, store etc not only increases the chances of a successful sell-through and a reduced risk of mark-downs, but also pre-buy commitments are rolled up to proactively manage Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ), plan pre-production earlier and eventually better negotiate with suppliers.

Strategy to drive true collaboration

Centric’s Digital Boards are a family of digitally connected, visual touchscreen boards that are an exciting development in optimising group decision-making and collaboration, when external factors such as quarantined staff and regulated travel come into play.

This, paired with the capabilities of Centric PLM, means that when businesses choose to partner with Centric Software, they choose to empower employees to work anywhere, anytime, they underpin smooth supply chain management with a single source of truth for product data maximising visibility across the entire production process, and they prepare for the future by applying industry-first, Silicon Valley insights to business challenges.

All of this ensures they remain innovative, agile and, ultimately, profitable.

Join our webinar on April 29 at 3:00 PM IST to learn How Brands and Apparel makers are Redefining the Game plan and opportunity.

Register today!