Emerging technologies have significantly disrupted multiple industries’ business models and processes, including in the apparel manufacturing business. Information technology represents the new frontier across diverse sectors and industries in any economy. Technology has enhanced business operations, bringing more efficient models that optimize production and create linkages that create new market opportunities in the clothing industry. Information technology has been instrumental in enhancing effective functions and streamlining business processes in apparel manufacturing, leading to the maximization of business revenues and profitability. Moreover, emerging technologies have been efficiently deployed in decision-making functions that facilitate smooth operations and governance in the industry. Also, emerging technologies have significantly reduced overhead costs in the manufacturing industries, leading to optimal business performances and profits (Schiavi & Behr, 2018). The apparel industry is one of the oldest industries in the world, and information technology has markedly disrupted its functions and processes. This paper will demonstrate how emerging technologies would affect the apparel industry’s business models and manufacturing processes.
The vision of the Project
The project’s vision is to improve efficiency in apparel manufacturing, maximize production and optimize business performance in the firm. The project envisions incorporating emerging technologies to solve pressing challenges like high overhead costs of production, inefficiencies in production processes, high wastages, lower speed of production, and sub-optimal business performances. Information technology is projected to provide viable solutions to all these challenges, create new opportunities, and facilitate maximum profitability in the business.
Horizon Clothing, Inc. (a hypothetical company) engages in apparel manufacturing. It encompasses industrial functions like textile production, embroidery, cloth production and designing, and garment retailing. In its textile production functions, the business runs a processing plant that produces raw materials for cloth-making, including animal-based products. They include synthetic fibers, cotton, textile, wool, fur, hides, and animal skins. The raw materials are then transferred to the next business process in the company, which involves cloth production and making. The raw materials are processed and maneuvered to produce apparel products in this function. They are customized into wearable garments that are then sold to consumers. Embroidery is also another business function in Horizon Clothing. It entails crafting and decorating fabrics to make a specific fashion design. Generally, it involves weaving decorative materials, including yarns, sequins, threads, quills, pearls, and bids in clothing to make apparel products more exciting and attractive to customers. The other major business function that Horizon Clothing engages in is garment retailing. It entails availing and distributing finished apparel products to customers to help the business generate revenues and income.
Fig. Wardley map showing the impact of emerging technologies in the apparel manufacturing business
Plan for the Strategic Implementation of Emerging Technologies in the Company’s Business Functions
All the different business functions of Horizon Clothing company are faced with unique challenges that emerging technologies can help solve. The plan to integrate technology in the business functions involves implementing artificial intelligence technology in the textile production and cloth-making processes. This includes implementing robotic functions in the processes to enhance the efficiency and speed of cloth-making. Robotics technology brings unparalleled effectiveness and precision in cloth-making operations. In the garment retailing functions, data analytics as a concept of emerging technologies will be essential. Data analytics will be employed to enhance data collection and analysis that will enhance customer relations and decision-making. This will significantly contribute to improved business performance in the firm, characterized by maximum profitability and sustainable decisions. For instance, data analytics concepts will enable the business to gather valuable information about customer opinions, perceptions, and preferences that will inform the company’s decisions concerning its production processes (Blekanov et al., 2019). In effect, this will streamline the workings of various departments and sectors in the business, including the supply chain functions. Consequently, the ripple effect of those decisions will positively impact the economic and financial services of the business, leading to increased profitability and optimal performance.
Current State of the Business
The business is currently based on manual labor for most of its functions, especially production. There is minimal deployment of technology for fundamental business functions in the company. For instance, embroidery functions like weaving are done using manual processes. This has a prominent impact on the business performance and, to an extent, its revenues, relations with the customer, and profit generation. The methods currently used in the business functions of Horizon Clothings are mainly ineffective, imprecise, slow, and inefficient. This impacts service delivery functions by the business, reducing the firm’s ability to generate maximum revenues. Additionally, the techniques are labor-intensive, meaning that more workers are needed to accomplish various functions. This inflates the costs of actualizing and implementing important business functions in the company. Moreover, given that they are not optimally efficient, the company cannot generate maximum profits. Fatigue is a significant challenge in human labor in apparel manufacturing that diminishes output in the industry. Implementing emerging technologies in the company will provide viable solutions and remedies to these challenges. It is projected that implementing the plan to integrate emerging technologies in the business will increase its revenues by up to five times its current estimates.
The Proposed Future State of the Business
Emerging Technologies that will be integrated into the Organization
Artificial intelligence is one of the emerging technologies that will be implemented in the business functions. Artificial intelligence is a concept of information technology concerned with building smart machinery that simulates human intelligence to perform various functions. It incorporates multiple aspects of computer science, including machine learning and deep learning to mimic human cognition and perform different functions as if they were human beings. Implementation of artificial intelligence in the company’s business process will be an essential undertaking in migrating and transitioning from manual functions to smart and automated systems (Nayak & Padhye, 2018).
Robotics is another emerging technology that will be implemented in the business functions of Horizon Clothings. Robotics is an interdisciplinary innovation in information technology that integrates engineering with computer science to construct machine models that perform functions typically undertaken by human beings. Robots are thus machines designed to resemble human beings and apply concepts of artificial intelligence to undertake processes traditionally done by humans (Guizzo, 2018). The primary advantage of robots over humans is that the machines can consistently perform human functions more consistently, faster, with greater precision and efficiency, and without getting fatigued. This makes robots ideal to replace human labor in the business company.
Data mining and analytics are other concepts of emerging technologies that will be prominently implemented in the apparel manufacturing business. Data mining and analytics are related concepts in emerging technologies that entail collecting data from diverse sources and deriving insights by creating data relationships and models. Generally, data mining and analytics involve inspecting and modeling data from different spheres to transform it into decisions in an organization. Some of the technological concepts involved in data mining and analytics include machine learning, neural networks, data visualization systems, and technology-based data warehouses and database systems. Data mining and analytics will particularly be instrumental in informing the decisions of the apparel manufacturing business, thus increasing the business’s prospects, sustainability, and success.
Tasks that Will Benefit from Using the Emerging Technologies in the Business
Deploying artificial intelligence in the business will positively impact and benefit multiple tasks in the organization. It will replace human and manual labor in critical functions like embroidery, weaving, knitting, fabric detection, mapping of garments, and color matching. Artificial intelligence will improve precision and speed in these functions, making the business thrive. Robotics will also be implemented in the business to provide more efficiency and effectiveness in functions related to textile production, supply chain, and garment retailing. In the textile production processes, robots will be used in harvesting and harnessing textile products like cotton. Robots will also be used in the cloth-making processes including in sewing functions. Moreover, robotics technology will also be deployed in the supply chain and apparel retailing to package and unpackage products during cargo freight, delivery, and distribution.
How the Use of Emerging Technologies will Impact Cost, Leadership, Differentiation, and the Business’s Comparative Advantage
Implementing the emerging technologies in the apparel manufacturing business will enhance extensive production. Technology will enable the business to leverage economies of scale in its production processes, substantially lowering the production costs. Also, given that technology is more efficient and precise, there will be minimal wastages in the production process, helping save significant overhead costs. Additionally, implementing emerging technologies in the business will reduce recurrent expenditures since fewer workers will be needed. Again, this saves costs.
Emerging technology in the business will impact leadership by informing sustainable decision-making. Data mining and analytics concepts will enable leaders to acquire practical knowledge on various business processes in the firm and thus make prospective decisions. Emerging technologies in the business will facilitate price differentiation in the company. Technology will significantly lower the cost of production, enabling the business to differentiate its prices in the market and gain a competitive advantage over its competition (Culot, Orzes & Sartor, 2018). Quality differentiation is also another factor that will help the company gain a competitive advantage. Implementing emerging technologies in the business will ensure that it produces high-quality products that match the desire la and utility of its consumers.
How the Initiative Fits the Organization’s IT Strategy and How it Benefits Customers
The initiative fits the organization’s IT strategy by facilitating the transition from manual functions and labor in the business. It allows the business to leverage technological innovations to enhance its functions, increase its efficiency, optimize its production, and improve its profitability. The initiative further allows the business to leverage IT functions to meet and deliver dynamic customer needs. Customers reap various benefits from this initiative. First, they get the company’s products at sustainable prices. Reduced production costs due to the effects of IT allow the business to sell its products at cheaper rates. Customers also benefit from high-quality apparel products. Implementing emerging technologies in the business enables it to produce state-of-the-art products that meet customized and specific consumer needs and utilities. Additionally, customers benefit from improved services. Data mining and analytics in the business ensure that customer needs and preferences are accounted for in the final apparel products in the business (Foroudi et al., 2018). Furthermore, technology enables the business to deliver customer orders faster and more efficiently. Customers thus benefit from improved relations with the business.
Plan of Action and Criteria for Success
The plan will involve acquiring technology equipment, setting up systems and networks in the firm, and installing relevant tools. The following step will include training the business employees on effectively and sustainably utilizing and deploying the technological systems. The projected budget for accomplishing the plan is $2 million. The timeline to achieve the project’s deliverables is three months. The project will incorporate skills and expertise from IT specialists to install the IT systems and train the company’s employees. The key stakeholders for the project include the management, who will facilitate, oversee, and supervise the project’s activities. The business shareholders and banking institutions are other key stakeholders to finance the project. IT personnel and project managers will be responsible for mobilizing and coordinating resources and activities to ensure the achievement of the project. One of the ethical concerns associated with this initiative is the laying off some employees. This will be dealt with by offering the released employees compensation for their termination. The project’s success will be measured based on how it impacts the business revenues and profits. In the future, the business will look to expand the IT infrastructure to enable it to increase its manufacturing and production capacity.
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