The apparel industry has been relatively slow to adopt modern data science but that is starting to change. That shift is likely to shape the future of the industry in the coming years and lead to significant benefits for the firms that make good use of new technology. The changes are likely to be significant which means that everyone with an interest in the industry should strive to understand them.
A Focus on the Factory
There has been very little communication between management and the factory floor in the past. Retailers in particular rarely focused on how their products were made. That is starting to change. Technological improvements are making it easier than ever to get detailed information about the manufacturing process and industry leaders are starting to recognize how valuable that information can be in the right hands.
Managers need to use that data to identify problems and set clear goals for the factory. That requires a level of engagement on the part of fashion brands and retail businesses that have been absent in the past. Some of the most successful businesses in the field already have a history of doing so but the majority have taken a hands-off approach to their work. The results come from treating the relationship between the brand and the factory as a partnership with strategic implications. The union between the two groups makes it easy to clarify expectations and set goals.
Partnering With the Artisans
Those improvements enable a strategic change in the apparel industry. In the past, the workers and artisans who made apparel had very little feedback on their work processes. They did not know how productive they had been and they had no idea which parts of their workflow needed improvement. Managers who look at the data for their factories can change that. They can get in touch with the workers and give them the information that they need to improve. That can lead to massive boosts to their efficiency, especially when those artisans are deeply engaged in their work. It is likely that more and more people in management will adopt these processes and focus on the factory once they see those benefits.
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