The secret to making customers care about supply chain

Imagine a world where customers care about how products are sourced, made, and delivered, understand what goes into pricing, and generally take great joy in the experience. A world where customers are fluent in the language of supply chain.

It’s not as farfetched as you may think.

Supply chains solve complex problems. And in the company of supply chain professionals, we use big words and complicated terms to talk about it. Words like multi-modal logistics and global transportation, mass-customisation and postponement, procurement and letters of credit, demand management, the cost of inventory and buffer stock, assurance of supply, warehousing, and the last mile.

We nitpick over the differences between distribution and fulfilment centres, debate the true definition of supply chain visibility and the role of control towers to support orchestration across a complex network of suppliers, trading partners, and carriers. And we’re still not sure if our industries are facing an apocalypse or simply working through the growing pains of transformation in the digital age.

It’s a mouthful. And as we dive into the technical details and jargon that comprise the modern language of supply chain, one can’t help but picture the average consumer’s eyes glazing over.

But that’s not necessarily the case. There’s mounting evidence people care more about supply chain than ever – they’re just not using our words for it.

Therein lies the secret.

The words used to describe supply chain were different at the recent Shoptalk Europe conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a gathering of more than 2,500 retailers, start-ups, technologists, and investors all focused on the worlds of retail, fashion, and ecommerce. Though most attendees weren’t purely in the business of operations and supply chain, all were exploring how to reach, engage, and enlighten the customer wherever and whenever they might choose to shop.

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Clarkson University Delivers 17th Global Supply Chain Management Executive Seminar to Corporate Professionals

Earlier this month, Clarkson University’s Global Supply Chain Management (GSCM) program presented its 17th annual Executive Seminar, delivering state-of-the-art education to corporate professionals.

“We are pleased that our executive seminar continues to attract supply chain professionals from several highly respected global companies,” said Professor Farzad Mahmoodi, the Joel Goldschein ’57 Endowed Chair in Global Supply Chain Management and director of the program. “It’s a strong endorsement of the quality of our faculty and the relevance of our curriculum.”

The annual, four-day, on-campus program attracted participants from Amazon, Toyota, Stanley Black & Decker, Xerox, Lockheed Martin, Verizon, Corning, Raymond Corporation, Entegris, Par Technology and Indium.
The participants came to Clarkson from 12 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
In addition to lectures by faculty experts, the seminar utilized a highly interactive format that employs team and hands-on activities, including simulations and negotiations exercises. Participants also benefited from networking opportunities with industry professionals and Clarkson faculty.

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Yusen Logistics Opens Logistics Center in Myanmar to Expand Contract Logistics Service

The event was attended by Thilawa SEZ Management Committee Vice Chairman Cho Cho Win; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Embassy of Japan in Myanmar Tateshi Higuchi; Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development Limited (MJTD) Chairman Thein Han; Mitsubishi Corporation Chief Representative for Myanmar Mitsuo Ido, Yusen Logistics Co., Ltd.; Kenji Mizushima; Yusen Logistics (Myanmar) Co., Ltd. President Yasuhiko Nojima; and Yusen Logistics (Thilawa) Co., Ltd. President Tatsuhiko Saeki.

“This logistics center will be a cornerstone of our logistics business in Myanmar and an important part of our global network including the connection to surrounding countries,” said Kenji Mizushima, President, Yusen Logistics Co., Ltd.

“We can provide full logistics service from this center which has 6,300 ㎡of warehouse space, including temperature control and bonded areas, together with an assembled vehicles yard area. We will contribute to the development of the Myanmar economy by providing high-quality logistics service that meets our customer’s needs.”
The logistics facility is in the Thilawa SEZ in Yangon District, covering an area of approximately 6,300m2 out of a total area of 30,000m2.

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BROWZ Launches New Software Platform for Improved Supply Chain Management

Speaking to a full house at the BROWZ Client Summit 2016 Sundance Resort, V.P. of Product Development, Aaron Rudd stated “BROWZ OneView is a significant development in the evolution of supply chain management software that will not only meet our clients needs today, but will meet their supply chain needs as they expand in the future.”

BROWZ OneView is an entirely new interface and user experience for BROWZ clients.

“Our goal was to enhance the way our clients interact with our solutions and their supply chain. From conducting a simple supplier search to in-depth analysis across a global supply chain. BROWZ is empowering our clients with the new OneView platform,” Rudd said.

“The software provides meaningful insight into the entire supply chain using key performance indicators which also provides the flexibility to analyze the performance of individual locations or specified risk level with the click of a button.”

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2017 Parcel Express Roundtable: Paying for peak performance

It can be hard to believe that very much happens in a year, but that theory is put to the test when it comes to the parcel express market.

In fact, over the past 12 months we’ve seen major changes in pricing from the parcel duopoly of FedEx and UPS; the accelerated emergence of regional parcel players; and don’t forget we’re all watching the increasing power and reach of e-commerce giant Amazon as it grows its own delivery capabilities globally.

These developments require parcel shippers to do whatever it takes to stay on top of their parcel game from both a financial and operational perspective. To help them along, Logistics Management has gathered Jerry Hempstead, president of Hempstead Consulting, a parcel advisory firm; David Ross, transportation and logistics director at investment firm Stifel; and Rob Martinez, president and CEO at Shipware, an audit and parcel consulting services company.

Over the next few pages, our experts offer their insight into what’s driving parcel market trends and offers some practical advice for how shippers need to re-adjust to ever-changing market conditions.

Logistics Management (LM): How would you describe today’s parcel marketplace?

Jerry Hempstead: All of the parcel carriers are doing well in volume and earnings—even the USPS is making money if you back out the Congressional mandates. And it’s clear that e-commerce is driving the volumes. To top it off, service levels this year are at record levels and are predictable and consistent.

My observation is that there’s no statistical difference between the service performance offered by FedEx and UPS across a year’s worth of activity, although FedEx offers a faster delivery on ground to about 25% more city pairs than UPS. This pressure on speeding up the promise and refining the networks to make the magic happen will only improve the consumer experience in parcel services.

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Big data analytics technology: disruptive and important?

Of all the disruptive technologies we track, big data analytics is the biggest. It’s also among the haziest in terms of what it really means to supply chain. In fact, its importance seems more to reflect the assumed convergence of trends for massively increasing amounts of data and ever faster analytical methods for crunching that data. In other words, the 81percent of all supply chain executives surveyed who say big data analytics is ‘disruptive and important’ are likely just assuming it’s big rather than knowing first-hand.

Does this mean we’re all being fooled? Not at all. In fact, the analogy of eating an elephant is probably fair since there are at least two things we can count on: we can’t swallow it all in one bite, and no matter where we start, we’ll be eating for a long time.

So, dig in!

Getting better at everything

Searching SCM World’s content library for ‘big data analytics’ turns up more than 1,200 citations. The first screen alone includes examples for spend analytics, customer service performance, manufacturing variability, logistics optimisation, consumer demand forecasting and supply chain risk management.

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What’s the Difference Between Business Intelligence (BI) and EPM?

Business Intelligence Emerges From Decision Support

Although there were some earlier usages, business intelligence (BI) as it’s understood today evolved from the decision support systems (DSS) used in the 1960s through the mid-1980s. Then in 1989, Howard Dresner (a former Gartner analyst) proposed “business intelligence” as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision-making by using fact-based support systems.” In fact, Mr. Dresner is often referred to as the “father of BI.” (I’m still trying to identify and locate the “mother of BI” to get the full story.)

The more modern definition provided by Wikipedia describes BI as “a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.” To put it more plainly, BI is mainly a set of tools or a platform focused on information delivery and typically driven by the information technology (IT) department. The term “business intelligence” is still used today, although it’s often paired with the term “business analytics,” which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Along Came Enterprise Performance Management

In the early 1990s, the term “business performance management” started to emerge and was strongly associated with the balanced scorecard methodology. The IT industry more readily embraced the concept around 2003, and this eventually morphed into the term “enterprise performance management” (EPM), which according to Gartner “is the process of monitoring performance across the enterprise with the goal of improving business performance.” The term is often used synonymously with corporate performance management (CPM), business performance management (BPM), and financial performance management (FPM).

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How IoT logistics will revolutionize supply chain management

As with many other areas of the economy, the digital revolution is having a profound effect on delivery logistics.

The combination of mobile computing, analytics, and cloud services, all of which are fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT), is changing how delivery and fulfillment companies are conducting their operations.

One of the most popular methods for fulfilling deliveries today is through third-party logistics, which involves any company that provides outsourced services to move products and resources from one area to another. Third-party logistics, or 3PL, can be one service, such as transportation or a warehouse, or an entire system that maintains the whole supply chain.

But the IoT is going to change how this process operates. Below, we’ve outlined the impact of IoT on supply chain, and how IoT management will transform inventory, logistics, and more.

Internet of Things Supply Chain Management

One of the biggest trends poised to upend supply chain management is asset tracking, which gives companies a way to totally overhaul their supply chain and logistics operations by giving them the tools to make better decisions and save time and money. Delivery company DHL and tech giant Cisco estimated in 2015 that IoT technologies such as asset tracking solutions could have an impact of more than $1.9 trillion in the supply chain and logistics sector.

And this transformation is already underway. A recent survey by GT Nexus and Capgemini found that 70% of retail and manufacturing companies have already started a digital transformation project in their supply chain and logistics operations.

Asset tracking is not new by any means. Freight and shipping companies have used barcode scanners to track and manage their inventory. But new developments are making these scanners obsolete, as they can only collect data on broad types of items, rather than the location or condition of specific items. Newer asset tracking solutions (which we’ll get into shortly in the next section) offer much more vital and usable data, especially when paired with other IoT technologies.

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How Big Data And Analytics Are Transforming Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a field where Big Data and analytics have obvious applications. Until recently, however, businesses have been less quick to implement big data analytics in supply chain management than in other areas of operation such as marketing or manufacturing.

Of course supply chains have for a long time now been driven by statistics and quantifiable performance indicators. But the sort of analytics which are really revolutionizing industry today – real time analytics of huge, rapidly growing and very messy unstructured datasets – were largely absent.

This was clearly a situation that couldn’t last. Many factors can clearly impact on supply chain management – from weather to the condition of vehicles and machinery, and so recently executives in the field have thought long and hard about how this could be harnessed to drive efficiencies.

In 2013 the Journal of Business Logistics published a white paper calling for “crucial” research into the possible applications of Big Data within supply chain management. Since then, significant steps have been taken, and it now appears many of the concepts are being embraced wholeheartedly.

Applications for analysis of unstructured data has already been found in inventory management, forecasting, and transportation logistics. In warehouses, digital cameras are routinely used to monitor stock levels and the messy, unstructured data provides alerts when restocking is needed.

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Artificial Intelligence: The next big thing in Supply Chain Management

Imagine the endless possibilities of learning from 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day. Artificial intelligence (AI), which began its journey 60 years ago is well on its course to make this implausible scenario a reality. Artificial Intelligence, is slowly taking over our lives.

From personal assistants like Siri in Apple products to stock trading to medical diagnosis, AI is able to learn from seemingly unstructured data, take decisions and perform actions in a way previously unimagined.

Businesses too are undergoing digitization rapidly. They are using AI – capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence – to create a significant impact in the way businesses operate. In an increasingly dynamic environment comprising demanding customers and the need for speed, it was only a matter of time before the businesses embraced AI to obtain much needed agility. According to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 survey spanning 11 countries and 12 industries, 70 percent of corporate executives said they are significantly increasing investments in AI.

Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain

Organizations are increasingly digitizing their supply chains to differentiate and drive revenue growth. According to Accenture’s digital operations survey 85 percent of organizations have adopted/ will adopt digital technologies in their supply chain within 1 year.

The key implication of this change is that the supply chains are generating massive amounts of data. AI is helping organizations analyze this data, gain a better understanding of the variables in the supply chain and helping them anticipate future scenarios. Thus, the use of AI in supply chains is helping businesses innovate rapidly by reducing the time to market and evolve by establishing an agile supply chain capable of foreseeing and dealing with uncertainties.

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