Alibaba's Jack Ma will hold a conference in Detroit in June to help 1 million US small businesses enter the Chinese market by selling on the e-commerce giant's Tmall site. Alibaba seeks to invite 2,000 US small-business owners, educate them on how to sell to Chinese consumers and then help them partner with logistics firms to make the process possible.
Adidas makes about 1 million sneakers each year through automated manufacturing, but that is less than 1% of its total production. Robots still struggle with dexterous tasks, such as lacing up shoes.
The startup Desktop Metal will prototype a 3D printer that it hopes will enable easy, scalable manufacturing of metal parts. The printer uses a metal powder mixed with a flowable polymer binder, which is then put in a special microwave oven to burn off the polymer while strengthening the metal.
Grocery delivery service Instacart is speeding up its growth in the US after raising $400 million in funding, with the goal of being available to 80% of US households by next year. Instacart will need to hire 1,000 more people to shop and make deliveries, as the company expands into four new markets this week, bringing its presence to 45 total US markets, according to Vice President of Product Elliot Shmukler.
To increase enrollment in vocational training, colleges and universities must do more to boost both the reputation and gender parity of the programs, say leaders meeting at the annual American Association of Community Colleges conference. They say more partnerships with business and encouraging more women to enroll are necessary steps.
Ingram Micro clients and society at large are moving away from ownership to on-demand services, whether that means the cloud or vehicle ownership, said Nimesh Dave, an Ingram Micro executive vice president. "Cloud technology, with ubiquitous access to everything we need, will change things permanently," he said.
Online pricing is becoming increasingly nuanced as retailers such as Amazon gather more data about our shopping habits and apply them to listings, with retailers' algorithms monitoring and competing against each other. "We want to make sure the software makes the decisions, not the human being," says Faisal Masud, Staples' chief technology officer.
Intelligent enterprise resource planning systems will become more popular, meaning businesses must prepare now, says IDC analyst Mickey North Rizza. "They will use machine learning and advanced analytics to build on and learn from data sets, they will be assistive and conversational (think Alexa and Siri), and they will be built on massive amounts of data in real time," Jim O'Donnell writes.
In an Accenture poll, only 11% of respondents said their companies successfully improve demand fulfillment and reduce cost. A focus on operational flexibility and digitization can help achieve both goals, writes Fronetics Strategic Advisors founder and CEO Frank Cavallaro.
Nearly 75% of industrial firms plan to digitize their supply chains by 2020, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Becky Cater of Proto Labs makes the argument for on-demand manufacturing as a way to improve production, reduce inventory costs and otherwise make the supply chain more efficient.
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