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Cannabis Industry Primed for Sophisticated Platform Software

The leading-edge needs of modern cannabis businesses are creating technology solutions that far exceed any other industry. Cannabis is setting new standards that will be adopted by other industries, and we’re blazing the trail of developing a disruptive approach to managing business. Because of the constantly evolving market and attractive profit margins, the cannabis industry has been inundated with a variety of adapted technology tools that aim to manage our unique supply chain and complex regulatory demands.

But we cannot repurpose software from other industries. From HR management to accounting to seed-to-sale tracking, cannabis operators must rely on flexible programs built specifically for cannabis to help run a successful business.

What does the future of cannabis technology look like?

It’s important to understand the difference between pipeline, ERP, and platform software before exploring what solution is best for cannabis.

In a 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, platform and pipeline software have been explained as follows:

“Though they come in many varieties, platforms all have an ecosystem with the same basic structure, comprising four types of players. The owners of platforms control their intellectual property and governance. Providers serve as the platforms’ interface with users. Producers create their offerings, and consumers use those offerings.

Pipeline businesses create value by controlling a linear series of activities—the classic value-chain model. Inputs at one end of the chain (say, materials from suppliers) undergo a series of steps that transform them into an output that’s worth more, which is the finished product.

Apple’s handset business is essentially a pipeline. But combine it with the App Store, the marketplace that connects app developers and iPhone owners, and you’ve got a platform.”

Most often, platform software is intended for small business or consumer use. By using Application Program Interface (API) functionality, creating a connected ecosystem of technology is straightforward and accessible in a platform design.

Historically, ERP software has followed the pipeline model, which is an outdated, linear approach. ERP software however, is beneficial in allowing an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage business and automate many back-office functions related to technology, services, and human resources. Infinitely customizable and flexible, ERP software is the system of record to run nearly all areas of business.

Cannabis is at the cusp of requiring a sophisticated platform software not only for streamlined technology integrations, but to support the enterprise-level, holistic approach of doing business. Combining the concept of robust supply-chain ERP technology with the full API functionality of a true platform, connects businesses, suppliers, distributers, and consumers in an unprecedented way that will revolutionize cannabis technology.

Customized ERP platform software built specifically for the cannabis industry is groundbreaking for the software industry as a whole and not just for cannabis. By offering true scalability, a network of producers, and an enterprise-level perspective of business management, ERP platform solutions are breaking new ground. And platforms seek to maximize the total value of an expanding ecosystem in a circular, iterative, feedback-driven process allowing for continued growth with this evolving industry.

From smart data and flexible integrations to extensive supply chain management, advanced technology solutions capable of handling the demands of this unique industry are hitting the market at the perfect time. We are no longer operating in an environment where compliance is the sole focus of cannabis software implementation. The industry is booming, competition is fierce, and the opportunity to build a cannabis empire is at the fingertips of many operators. It’s high time for cannabis to transition to a sophisticated, data driven market approach with platform technology.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important features of advanced cannabis ERP platform technology.

Integration
 Advanced platforms offer integrations to multiple systems such as accounting, marketing, environmental controls, locator services, etc. making it easier to manage the many facets of cannabis business. The ability to oversee a variety of partner technologies and maintain many information points in one organized solution not only saves valuable time, but ensures accurate data transfer and administration.

Expansion
 It’s not unreasonable for a cannabis business owner to think about and plan to accept multiple currencies or even product exportation. Smart platforms must scale with cannabis businesses as operators move to new or emerging markets by supporting multi-currency exchanges, a variety of languages, and advanced compliance settings or permission levels.

Data driven

By organizing, interpreting, and using business and industry data, operators can more easily outpace competitors and more efficiently implement stronger business and marketing strategies. Identifying the right objectives for analyzing data and setting clear goals for evaluation can be challenging for business owners. The focus is to turn data into actionable information by consolidating efforts and harnessing real time ERP platform reporting to accelerate growth. This is perhaps the most important reason to use a platform over a pipeline. Platforms connect businesses to consumers through insightful data that can only be effectively collected and analyzed through the lens of an ERP platform.

Instead of guessing what strains will be most effective at your cultivation, you can use real data insights to drive actual results. For example, let’s say on average at your grow, your plants produce 1.2 lbs of flower per plant per year. However, you discover a specific strain that is producing 2 lbs per plant, and make an informed decision to increase the number of this plant by 33 percent over the course of the year. This results in an increase in annual revenue of $960,000. There is huge value in using business intelligence to make informed decisions.

Smart data from ERP platforms can help cannabis businesses in retail, manufacturing, and cultivation make smarter decisions about how to run their operations.

Many other industries see the value in what big data can do for business. For example, Kroger accesses, collects, and manages data for about 770 million consumers. Claiming 95 percent of sales are rung up on the loyalty card, Kroger sees an impact from its award-winning loyalty program through nearly 60% redemption rates and over $12 billion in incremental revenue by using big data and analytics.

Imagine how powerful our industry and your business could be with that type of massive consumer data at our fingertips? Our industry is still in its infancy. But if we will collectively commit to implementing real ERP platform solutions now, we can create a foundation that will lead to unprecedented future growth.

Businesses are evolving and global industries are maturing in the way they approach and manage big data. The cannabis industry can absolutely be a part of this evolution. It is time for an ERP platform solution that can help support your data-driven decisions.

Compliance
 Cannabis is a complicated supply chain within a strict compliance environment that requires sophisticated software tools to oversee. Also, cannabis businesses are focusing on growth and expansion. They require solutions that can be used across multiple states with different regulatory environments. True ERP platform software is designed with compliance in mind and should make the process of managing compliance effortless. Your technology solution should be supported by experienced engineers and an expert compliance department because regulations are constantly changing. Built for the industry, cannabis platform technology should not be formatted from an existing version of ERP and instead should be customized specifically for cannabis. No other industry is required to have the same level of visibility as cannabis. Therefore, other software solutions are just not created to accommodate the seed to sale tracking requirements that impact our day-to-day operations.

Cannabis cannot adapt technology from other industries. It just will not work for our unique needs. Instead, we are developing groundbreaking cannabis platforms that will be adopted within other industries, such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals. The cannabis industry has the potential to undergo a major transformation (and be very successful) if it seizes the opportunity to depend on a refined ERP software platform.

We’re in the green rush and as part of the fastest growing industry in the United States, we have an opportunity to not just use existing tools, but to create solutions and concepts that disrupt the market. That’s something we’re thrilled to watch unfold.

Jessica BillingsleyJessica Billingsley

Jessica Billingsley

When the first marijuana businesses opened in Colorado, Jessica Billingsley co-founded MJ Freeway Business Solutions to fill a fast growing need to track and manage inventory. As Chief Operating Officer, Billingsley and her partner made the timely decision to design a tech firm specifically for the cannabis industry. MJ Freeway Business Solutions provides a business software platform for point of sale, inventory tracking, manufacturing, cultivation management, and more. MJ Freeway also provides cannabis small-business consulting services and application license support. Since its inception, the women-owned firm has been recognized in numerous major media outlets and was listed in the prestigious INC 5000 in 2015. In addition, Billingsley has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of Top 10 Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs.

An avid Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Billingsley applies the skills of balance, discipline, and centeredness to her approach as COO. Her deep management skills and strategic vision consistently result in cohesive teams and large profit margins. MJ Freeway’s industry-leading customer service and high revenue returns has earned Billingsley an outstanding reputation in two highly competitive fields – medical marijuana and software development. Billingsley’s respected reputation also won her a board member seat several years running on the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Prior to forming MJ Freeway, Billingsley cut her teeth building and managing technology operations with an emphasis on executive management, corporate culture, finance, and strategic relations. She has been a successful founder, owner, director, COO, and CEO of companies with revenues exceeding eleven million ($11M).

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