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Coats stories

Digital disruption...

How digital technology is enabling a brave new world in apparel

Coats’ Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Hizmy Hassen, speaking at the South Asian Leadership Forum

When Sri Lanka played host to the annual South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum in October, Coats’ Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Hizmy Hassen, explained the importance of digital technology to the invited audience of industry leaders, tech and new media experts, who were attending the event as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. 

Hizmy, who has been with Coats for over 20 years, has a wealth of experience of working across the textile industry supply chain. Currently he is responsible for digitising Coats’ customer facing interactions and supply chain, and driving the automation of its business processes.

He described to delegates how digital and technology has been crucial in improving customer service by  making Coats’ internal and business processes much more efficient and effective. He said that by focusing on the customer experience – and investing in it – Coats has garnered more positive feedback from clients, which has resulted in an increased market share. It also allows real time transparency, which has a knock-on effect beneficial to internal culture, since it encourages openness, efficiency and responsibility among employees. 

As the Sri Lankan government has set the local apparel industry a challenging target to grow exports to $8.5bn by 2020, his advice to the gathered apparel makers was to embrace digitisation and use it as a key differentiator.

He predicted that one of the biggest challenges likely to face manufacturers would come from the availability of labour, but said this was another area where digitisation could come into its own, allowing businesses to use data to accurately identify and remove non-value-added activities.

Coats itself has recently formed a new data science team that turns traditional data analytics on its head: rather than focusing on understanding what has happened in the past, the team uses advanced mathematical modelling to predict future behaviours, eliminate manual processes and capitalise on opportunities to improve revenue.

Digitisation, said Hizmy, is not merely an enabler, but a survival strategy in the apparel industry – crucial if businesses are to grow and prosper. His words were echoed by the co-founder of business consultancy The Future Laboratory, Chris Sanderson, who put it simply like this: ‘[Digital is] part of us, integrated to our bodies and our lives, making the future physical and digital – phygital’. 


Export target set for Sri Lanka apparel industy to meet by 2020

"Every industry will be digitally disrupted. Your customers will adopt digital whether you do or don’t. So, putting digital and tech at the heart of your business will be key to survival."

Hizmy Hassen, Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Coats


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