We live in a highly demanding time. Customers want more, better, faster, and cheaper. Competition is steep, and meeting expectations while innovating and staying profitable can feel like a pipe dream. As supply chain practitioners invest in and leverage robust technology to deliver on ever-increasing demands and complexities, it’s vital that they see past the fads (quick fix solutions) and focus on long-lasting trends (solutions that best align with where the industry is headed).
Supply chain visibility has always been important. Yet, in 2017, improving end-to-end supply chain visibility only ranked 6th as a top objective, according to Geodis’ Supply Chain Worldwide Survey. It didn’t take long for practitioners to begin seeing the capability as a fundamental necessity and not just a tool that would be ‘nice to have.’ In fact, responders to Gartner’s latest SCM Technology User Wants and Needs Study named end-to-end visibility as their top funded initiative.
So, what’s suddenly motivating companies to prioritize this capability?
I recently joined IDC as an analyst covering global supply chain execution and fulfillment strategies, and began by reporting on the difference between maximization and optimization in the end-to-end supply chain: how it’s important to move from the former to the latter, how optimization can only be achieved by viewing the whole ecosystem, and how difficult this has been to do historically. It also explores how a digital transformation (DX) and the promise of interconnectivity and visibility it offers, as well as the intelligence it enables when paired with analytics or AI, make the optimization of large, multi-enterprise, multi-country, multi-industry business networks a viable – and necessary – goal.
We spent the year breaking down how today’s supply chain practitioners are under the gun, feeling pressured to run smoother and leaner operations under thinning margins and during the most disruptive time that has ever existed. We’ve noticed that these conditions have spawned a sense of urgency for quick and easy fixes.
However, we also discussed how, much like lasting happiness, fulfillment, and self-actualization, there are no quick fixes in the journey toward industry leadership. Rather, it requires a thoughtful digital transformation to establish a firm foundation on which new processes and innovations can effectively flourish.
As we close out this year, here are three key takeaways for cultivating a lasting transformation and supply chain success.
Digital supply chain Control Towers are invaluable for helping multi-enterprise business networks better collaborate, improve efficiency, and cut costs. They can, however, vary greatly in the depth and degree of what they actually ‘control’ and how much direct actionability you derive from them.
Here is a brief overview of the core elements of control a digital supply chain Control Tower should have.
We began the series by stating that simply good isn’t good enough. That in today’s competitive climate, which requires companies to innovate, expand their service or product portfolios, and contemplate what’s next at a faster pace than ever before, satisfaction with incremental gains is a setback. Most companies put off digital transformations because they see the cost as overhead, an expense to avoid, and not a necessity for future survival.
We talk a lot about digital transformations and how vital they are to stay ahead. But transformations are about more than staying technologically up-to-date and relevant, they’re about adopting a new mindset and revolutionizing the way you do business.
From practical guidance to contemplating the bigger picture, here are a few quick tips from those who have proven to know what they’re doing.
Over the past 25 years, companies have been using the supply chain as a competitive tool. The most successful manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and logistics providers leverage superior supply chain management practices to distinguish and elevate their brands. Most of them have done so by investing billions of dollars into home-grown systems to implement these practices, as off-the-shelf software has typically failed to meet requirements.
It’s no surprise that there’s a growing interest in transportation management solutions. Transportation is at the heart of supply chain operations, and as more companies expand their products and services to conquer new markets, the more they run up against the limitations of their legacy systems.
At its core, today’s transportation management solution must at least be holistic and multi-modal. But what does that really mean, and how can you better assess your level of transportation complexity and whether a given solution will adequately support it?
If you’ve been following my series, Making the Case for a Digital Transformation, it’s apparent that such a venture can stretch out over many months – if not longer. Not every business has that kind of time to spare, and you may be asking yourself: “What can I do if I have to get a new platform up and running in the next quarter or two?”
With tacit approval from senior management to pick a solution and spend what it takes (within reason), here’s my advice for fast-tracking your digital transformation.
More than two centuries later and the image of Frankenstein’s monstrous creation still looms large in our collective imagination. Mary Shelley’s timeless piece unfolds the story of a highly gifted scientist who is driven to uncover the secret of life. Using his expansive knowledge and unthinkable feats of engineering, he manages to assemble and animate a creature.
Today’s supply chain is incredibly demanding. No matter what sector you’re in, you’re likely up against thin margins alongside pressures to reliably and cost-effectively deliver both regular and rush orders on-time and in-full under strict time windows.
Due to a long-standing tradition of batch-processing, businesses are constantly losing money by unnecessarily rushing regular orders that are bundled with the expedite. Most Transportation Management systems (TMSs) run up against this inefficiency because they can’t control individual orders. Here’s how the order-centric TMS is challenging and revolutionizing that paradigm.
Logistics service providers (LSPs) face a unique challenge. In addition to the evolving customer demands within an increasingly global, networked, multi-channel supply chain, these professionals juggle a variety of clients with differing supply chain and management needs.
Many of the leading LSPs, such as DSV, CEVA, and GEODIS, have opted for a more holistic approach to management through a Supply Chain Orchestration solution which connects siloed systems. Here’s how the solution provides such companies with unprecedented opportunities for superior service, innovation, and profitability.
The idea of innovation might sound enticing, but few are willing to take the associated risks in changing course. Treading lightly has its advantages, but the line between ‘careful’ and ‘cripplingly cautious’ can be thin, especially in such a highly competitive world.
Here are a few signs you might be letting fear get the best of you.
The supply chain is always evolving, but since the advent of the Internet, its transformation has been unique, its challenges unprecedented. With e-commerce came greater market demands and competitive pressures. And as businesses adapted to these new realities, expanding their reach abroad and forming multi-enterprise networks, they found that managing these new opportunities introduced its own set of unprecedented challenges and complexities.
While the industry has coped so far by slowly modernizing and upgrading the various components of the old Transportation Management System (TMS) framework, we have reached a point in which this framework is no longer viable. By continuing to maintain it, businesses risk stagnating future progress. The Order-Centric TMS was built for the modern supply chain; it moves beyond the conventional model to provide unprecedented levels of flexibility and dynamism.
Now that the case for a digital transformation has been made and the go ahead given, it’s time for your supply chain software implementation...but don’t think it will be a walk in the park. It’s common to have a bit of friction between company departments – especially during transformations. Stamp out ‘turf battles’ early and map out a plan right away, so you can easily course correct when issues or delays inevitably arise. How you define success will also play a significant role throughout the process – don’t overpromise but strive to overdeliver.
Here we place the industry’s ambitions into context, taking a brief look at how digitization shook the paradigm, where new innovations are taking us, and what it means for the ever-evolving supply chain to be growing toward its own state of ‘actualization.’
With a promising software provider determined and the backing of your network, it’s time to pull together your resources, construct a business case for the digital transformation, and make a strong and informed recommendation.
If you’re in a larger or public company, you will likely have a predetermined format for presenting a business case. Since this involves an investment decision, your finance organization should have a structured, formulaic template to use. Smaller or private companies will usually have a handful of people making the decision, with a greater focus on a “why and how much?” rationale.
Having sat through countless board and executive committee meetings in many different companies, and in a range of such scenarios, I’ve seen my fair share of both compelling and derailed presentations. Without getting overly prescriptive, here are some observations on the best ways to fully prepare, expect the unexpected, and make an effective business case.
We began discussing the industry’s most popular jargon: the ‘buzzwords’ you see and hear everywhere, proselytized as a panacea for all, and the staple of everyone’s brand – though often defined quite differently depending on who you talk to.
Running a supply chain business is harder and more complex than ever, and with customer standards soaring, it’s easy to want a quick and simple answer to overcoming your greatest challenges.
Your time is valuable, so we’ve done the legwork for you. Let’s continue our journey through the fluff to mine the nuggets of truth in a few more buzzy promises.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that the industry is saturated with certain jargon. These ‘buzzwords’ soar to fashionable stardom and contain a certain, undeniable ring that excites hope the way a Pavlovian bell triggers hungry pups to salivate. These words are plastered everywhere: proselytized as a panacea for all, and they’re quick to become the staple of everyone’s brand – though everyone seems to define them differently.
If you’ve been buying into them, fear not. You’re not a dilettante and you’re far from alone. Hope and utopia are powerful platforms to run on, and in this increasingly complex and pressure-filled moment that’s glutted with choice, it’s absolutely understandable to want an easy, shiny answer to your biggest problems.
While not all answers are necessarily easy, getting down to the root of where buzzwords have gone astray can be. Here are a few of the most salient examples of jargon-gone-awry and how to see through the fluff.
It’s often been said that business process changes precede technology and software. Companies would first define their frameworks and then seek out software to support those established practices. However, much has changed in the 21st century. The rapid evolution of supply chain software and technology has transformed the industry landscape into a far more complex, fast-paced, demanding, global, and networked ecosystem. To keep up with these changes and to seize upon new opportunities, practitioners have begun shifting their approach to acquiring and implementing emerging supply chain software and technology. Rather than apply new technologies and other innovations to existing frameworks, successful and far-sighted practitioners are increasingly thinking about what new possibilities these innovations hold and how their use might help them pivot to more effective processes.
Digital transformations are hard work and require more than just technology to be successful. In the countless times I’ve managed multi-party setups, the greatest obstacle was consistently the most intangible one: Trust. Companies today are networks, so if your partners aren’t on board with your vision, the solution you choose – no matter how robust – will ultimately fail. As you define your priorities, also use this process as an opportunity to consult your network about how your needs align.
Mention ‘supply chain Control Tower’ to anyone in the industry and they’ll nod in recognition. Ask anyone to define it and you’re likely to get a slightly different answer from nearly every person you ask. Why is that?
Software providers often latch the term onto different capabilities, depending on what sector or area of the supply chain they’re intending to address. Moreover, most control towers simply provide visibility and leave much to be desired about control, or actionability. They show users what’s going on (often in a limited scope of the supply chain) and if any corrective actions need to be taken, users tend to have to log in elsewhere to execute them. This also means that your corrective actions are only as good, timely, informed, and comprehensive as the system through which you’re mediating.
With all the technology being promoted, it’s incredibly challenging for companies to effectively weed through the noise and find a robust solution that will actually help with its full range of needs. Here’s a quick and practical guide to simplify the process.
While today’s supply chain is exceedingly complex, one’s approach to managing it need not be. Unfortunately, as tools and so-called best practices evolve, they often propagate silos, redundancies, and failure points in the supply chain, further complicating it.
When thinking about rigidity in the supply chain, it’s common to call out the usual suspects – ahem, spreadsheets – that are routinely blamed for making management less flexible. Less noticeable, however, are the historical boundaries that restrict even the most modern, cloud-based, digital solutions.
Cloud and SaaS technologies have made extraordinary strides toward breaking the systemic and spatial boundaries that otherwise limit effective, networked collaboration. And yet, many of the most progressive platforms and software are draped over the stiff bones of outdated frameworks.
The modern supply chain is capable of so much more than these constricting scaffoldings allow. Here are a few of the secret places where silos and rigidity linger.
Up until now, the process of choosing software providers has been all talk. As thorough as your due diligence may be, there’s always the possibility that what a prospective vender claims they can do does not ultimately align with what you’ve imagined. Moreover, if you’re hedging your bets on innovators, you want to do everything you can to minimize risk and go into the partnership confident that you’ve made a sound choice.
There are two ways to accomplish that: by checking references and conducting a live demo stress test.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. The big-player disruptors (you know who they are) have set lofty goalposts and acclimated consumers to a kind of good life they’ve happily claimed as the new norm. For businesses, last mile logistics marks the end of a transaction. However, much like the Olympic vault, the total sum of a company’s fulfillment efforts means little if they can’t stick the landing.
Customers want timely service (aka get it when they want it) and cost-effective delivery (aka free). Additionally, a significant part of the brand experience is reliability and communication. These last two sound like simple bars to set, and still so many businesses deliver to the wrong address or with delays and then provide poor communication regarding cause, status, and responsibility.
Considering how much of a cornerstone last mile logistics is to brand loyalty and profitability, why are so few getting it right – and what can be done about it.
First introduced to the auto industry in the early 1990s, the philosophy of lean manufacturing centers around a kind of “less is more paradigm.” Though the principles were originally meant to perfect production logistics, the greater automotive supply chain gains tremendous value by reducing superfluous processes and orchestrating smooth, synchronous flows throughout the supply chain.
As supply chain processes continue to go global, businesses face unprecedented levels of complexity. However, by adopting a methodology centered around efficiency, consolidation, collaboration, and continuous improvement, they can leverage opportunities to reach new levels of business potential.
We recently discussed how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (the psychological stages of human growth) applied to the supply chain (business growth within the industry). This evolution is closely linked with a digital transformation, which itself can be mapped according to a similar journey of fulfillment.
The guiding principles are the same: growth requires building one fundamental layer at a time in order to achieve full potential. Just as businesses must build their capabilities and networks one stage at a time, so too does a digital transformation strategy require various upgrades in technology and innovation to enable new business models through previously unimaginable functionality.
Both the digital transformation and each software provider are multi-faceted, so think of these next stages of the discovery process as ‘peeling back layers of the onion.’ The surface layers involve understanding each vendor’s capabilities and bid components. Slightly deeper are the back-end particulars of the transformation; your team will be focusing on everything from the platform to the financial and commercial terms to ensure the products and services you choose align well with your priorities and that the rollout will be feasible and smooth.
Tariffs, Brexit, and the issue of uncertainty are rampant in the news and have become hot topics for management and round table conferences. It’s increasingly clear that ‘easy fixes’ like stockpiling merchandise before a hike deadline or seeking exclusion options are impractical. They’re also not viable, long-term solutions for businesses that want to do more than just survive each disruption.
Visibility is often touted as the number one solution to the various, looming international trade policy changes – i.e. US-China punitive tariffs, the UK’s torturous divorce from the European Union, NAFTA/USMCA. But though it’s invaluable to see the highest areas of impact, it’s not a panacea.
Visibility alone is passive, and easy fixes are one-offs in an ever-changing landscape. If you want to truly master this new, global domain and stay ahead of the competition, here are five vital steps you can take to boost your supply chain resilience.
The Gartner Supply Chain Executive conference continues to evolve in both scale and content. This recent one, as Gartner noted, was the biggest one to date. So much so, that Gartner will now be converting the supply chain summit to its larger symposium format starting in 2020.
For seasoned attendees who might recall when this used to be the AMR Research Supply Chain Executive conference, it may feel strange to venture anywhere other than Phoenix in May. But if this event was a testament of what’s to come, Orlando 2020 will be something to look forward to.
Fans of Star Wars are familiar with the concept of the Force: an energy field that can be tapped into, that gives a Jedi their power. In the supply chain universe, the Force is like the inevitable progress of technology. A seemingly limitless pool of potential we tap into and are empowered by to not only better handle the pressures and challenges of the ever-evolving industry, but to pioneer that very change and transform the world as we know it.
Knowing what you want and how to convey it is only half the battle. There is still an overwhelming number of software vendors to choose from, with differing specialties, many of whom offer variations on the same solutions. With so many options and variables to weigh, how do you qualify vendors based on your priorities and what does it take to earn them a seat at your table?
Here is how I like to approach the process, based on what’s worked for me.
Chances are you’re familiar with the renown Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The psychological theory attempts to map out the stages of human growth, starting with physiological needs, like food, shelter, and safety, and moving onward and upward to love, belonging, esteem, until culminating in self-actualization.
The hierarchy is conceived as a pyramid with the basic needs at the bottom; to advance, you must first meet the requirements of the previous level. In other words, starvation takes precedence over safety. Most won’t have the bandwidth to sustain meaningful relationships if they feel unsafe, and they probably won’t reach their full potential if they lack self-esteem.
The same can be said about a business’s growth and development.
Approaching a digital transformation can seem daunting. There are many considerations and software providers, so how do you determine which solutions are best? After assembling a small, cross-functional team, outline a strategic approach for summarizing your intentions and highlighting priorities for the initiative.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to effectively approach the task and apply your decisions to the vendor selection process.
Transportation management was once straightforward: Order management systems grouped batches of orders into origin-destination pairs based on delivery dates, then sent order releases down to the transportation management system (TMS), which had the sole function of accepting that input and releasing the batch.
When you think of the supply chain, it’s easy to recall the antiquated notion of a literal chain of command and linear process. The chain begins at Point A, the order, and ends at Point B, the delivery of the product; what happens in between is as predictable and routine as goods flowing down an assembly track. When consumers were generally local and products typically unchanging, it was practical to invest in the same team of partners, routes, and practices.
The breakneck growth of the Internet has radically disrupted that paradigm. The continuous demand for newer, better offerings has shortened product lifecycles and upended the practice of stable partnerships. As dynamic networks are the new normal, technology has emerged to better form and manage these vital relationships.
We opened this series by discussing why digital transformation and continuous improvements are critical to long-term success. But once you’ve made this realization, how do you actually make it happen in an effective and streamlined way? Just because you’ve discovered the key to your company’s inefficiencies and the importance of aiming higher doesn’t mean everyone else does. Besides, small to mid-size businesses don’t typically have a dedicated professional or department to oversee the endeavor, so you need to champion internal support.
Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to craft a value proposition for executive sponsorship, then focus on who you should enlist to ensure the endeavor is handled intelligently and without delay.
Mergers and acquisitions activity have been on the rise for several years, and according to Deloitte’s The state of the deal | M&A trends 2019 report, they show no sign of letting up. In fact, these deals are projected to continue to grow in size. Whatever the reason for each M&A – whether to stay competitive by acquiring new technology or broaden their market reach – what they all have in common is the drive toward synergy: the belief that the new combined whole will be greater than the sum of their parts.
Having spent over 25 years in the supply chain industry, I noticed that while companies diligently assess their performance and capabilities, they are often unmotivated to improve as long as they do better or earn more than the year before. Satisfaction with small, incremental gains is a setback. The mindset usually stems from the presumption that additional growth demands significant spend, time, resources, and disruption.
In light of this, I’m launching a blog series to relate my perspective as an actual practitioner who has evaluated, selected, justified, and implemented software solutions for e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse management, supply and demand planning, transportation and logistics management, supply chain control towers, reverse logistics, and depot repair. There’s a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the process of systems upgrades, why they are necessary, and what it takes to set them in motion.
About a decade ago, Satoshi Nakamoto shared an idealistic vision to remove the intermediaries – i.e. financial institutions – from monetary transactions between individuals. The Bitcoin network is a truly democratic solution, favoring autonomy, decentralization, and the greater good of the community. The rules surrounding its future growth and development are clear, and they bar any non-majority user groups from altering the core design.
The Bitcoin network owes its success to novelty; born of the modern world, it never had to contend with legacy transactions or link to physical assets. New bitcoins are simply “minted” directly into the network. However, the very features that make blockchain successful in this instance also hold it back from other use cases.
At the beginning of last year, we asked the question: Is 2018 the Year of Supply Chain Networks? We have since established that the answer is not only a resounding yes, but that these growing ecosystems now have a name: multi-enterprise supply chain business networks. They have become such a prominent staple of the industry that Gartner recognized them with a dedicated Magic Quadrant. Toward the end of the year, we ruminated on Why Multi-Enterprise Business Networks Add Value & How to Choose Wisely, which began to touch upon two important queries posed in the former article: What’s the best way to build and connect these networks? And what considerations should we take into account?
The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving; UPS alone is anticipating delivering about 750 million packages. However, if you work in retail, it is also the unenviable time of mass returns and exchanges. According to the 2017 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry report, “Total merchandise returns account for more than $351 billion in lost sales for US retailers.”
Growth, global expansion, and building complex networks of partnerships are a boon to businesses, but they also come at a price. Greater complexity invites greater risk and room for error, and if companies aren’t careful, they may easily enter into unwieldy processes and systems that are ineffective and inefficient.
Gartner just released their Magic Quadrantfor Multienterprise Supply Chain Business Networks. But what exactly are they and how can they help your business?
At its root, the term encapsulates how supply chains have evolved into complex networks involving multiple parties and partners. Across orders, organizations must communicate with everyone from manufacturing and warehousing to transportation partners, freight forwarders, distributors, retailers, and others. While having all these connections is certainly advantageous, the pressing question is: are you really making the most of what you have?
With the rise of online sales, more and more retailers are striving to meet shifting customer expectations. Consider that 45% of consumers have abandoned a basket on a retailer’s website because of unsatisfactory or limited delivery options, according to a MetaPack survey.
No wonder retailers are shaking up their distribution networks and looking for more options.
The world of e-commerce is about to change completely. The United States has indicated intent to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union due to the way the global inter-economy postal tariffs work. These have distorted postal rates so it is cheaper today to ship from China to parts of the US, than within the US itself. This is about to change now, and will redefine competition and competitiveness in e-commerce.
55% of business leaders in supply chain and top bosses in finance plan to invest in Artificial Intelligence in the next couple of years according to a recent Forrester survey. This stat tells us AI is increasingly being seen as a technology capable of driving effective decision making and improving operational processes.
The modus operandi of the ‘sales process’ has changed over the years in both the B2B and B2C spheres; it has moved from being a largely offline to an online process and this transformation has also changed customer expectations vis-à-vis product delivery.
There’s no question that the supply chain is a strategic asset for forward-thinking retailers and brand owners. Getting products from A to Z efficiently while maintaining a positive customer experience is a big balancing act that supply chain leaders deal with every day. So, how can your supply chain have an impact on customer satisfaction levels? How do successful companies view their supply chains and why is it worth investing in them? While the path to success may not be obvious, some recent research gives us some clues.
The volume of data that companies have available to them today has never been greater, but jumping from system to system and combing through it all is easier said than done. To combat demand volatility and successfully anticipate developing events that might impact your business, you need to establish a comprehensive overview of an increasingly complicated network of systems and partners.
The prospect of the two leading global economies, the United States and China, pushing beyond the trading of punitive tariffs and into a full-scale trade war is creating a lot of uncertainty. The potential fall out for organizations engaged in global trade could be disastrous. But the desire for managing supply chain disruption, reducing risk, and protecting future profits also creates the drive for improvement that will lead forward-thinking businesses to pursue real-time visibility and control over their supply chains. By adopting supply chain orchestration (SCO) global organizations may be able to reduce some of the uncertainties that comes with these tariffs.
We've talked about the "Amazon Effect", and the need for agile supply chains to properly handle the increasing expectations customers have regarding factors like costs, availability, and the delivery options of the items they are purchasing. And those increased expectations have also bled into business or B2B transactions as well. After all, business buyers go home at night and grocery shop, go to the mall, and shop online like everyone else.
Establishing maximum efficiency in your supply chain is vital in today’s customer-centric climate. The average consumer is only willing to wait a maximum of 4.5 days for delivery, down from 5.5 days in 2012, according to AlixPartners research. People spend time online researching products and identifying the best prices, but when they order, they expect things to arrive quickly, and to have visibility into its delivery status every step of the way.
The expectations of the average customer have changed a great deal in the last few years. People want products quickly and expect them to arrive in increasingly tight windows of time. Most businesses rely on a complex and disparate network of partners and software systems to fulfill their orders.
The customer demand economy has permanently altered supply chain and in turn, it's forced supply chain leaders to search for answers. From better supply chain visibility to supply chain orchestration, companies are searching for ways to be quicker, more efficient and more agile than ever before. In turn, they have realized that they can't do this alone and have moved toward utilizing strategic partners to help them figure out how to transform their supply chain strategy.
Supply chain networks are the future and we’re not the only ones speaking about it. Multi-Enterprise Business Networks are becoming a hot topic for analyst firms such as Gartner and many solutions are touting their network of partners and suppliers.
Agility has been a huge focus for organizations as we enter unpredictable waters of the current and future economy. Increasing customer expectations, global business challenges and digitization are greatly impacting how we market and sell our products and provide a high level customer experience through the supply chain. And agility is critical to sustained business success.
The definition of Supply chain visibility has evolved more than any other term in supply chain. From track and trace to multi-tier inventory, supply chain visibility is used to describe improvements in how we use data to track and make better decisions in our supply chain.
Today, we would like to talk about end-to-end supply chain visibility and how organizations are using supply chain orchestration in order to get real-time actionable visibility into the orders that are being executed throughout their end-to-end supply chains. This is key.
Last week, MPO and DSV co-presented on the webinar, "15 Critical Functions of Supply Chain Control Towers". As with every webinar we do we receive a whole host of insightful questions from the audience, many of which we answer on the webinar and the rest which we want to answer via our blog.
Here are the questions from the webinar and answers from our team of experts.
Digitization has changed everything. It’s changed not only how we interact but how we make decisions with readily available information. This accessibility to information and organizations has flattened the playing field for every organization as they look to market and sell their wares.
Supply chain networks and our ability to collaborate across them is becoming a critical core competency for successful supply chain operations. With more external parties and partners involved in helping us to deliver a positive customer experience through the supply chain, it’s critical that we evolve how we think about these parties, their impact on business success and how we consistently improve collaboration across them.
I was recently reading Adrian Gonzalez’s 2018 supply chain predictions on his Talking Logistics blog and I found myself nodding at many of his points. We live in a chaotic world where change is the only constant to our lives and we’re seeing that with the massive changes in business and the economy. Changes that will require a different approach to how we measure, connect and execute our supply chains.
Supply chain visibility is a critical function of any modern (and competitively advantageous) supply chain. However, the term itself leads many leaders to focus just on the capture and display of supply chain data.
With supply chains evolving to become competing networks of partners, there is opportunity for companies to leverage Supply Chain Orchestration platforms to achieve additional competitive advantage. Gartner recently wrote a report that investigated how supply chain networks are integrating with each other.
With today’s growing supply chain complexity, we’re seeing organizations struggle to deliver customer value with their supply chains at a cost that helps to make their business profitable.
It’s a huge problem that is getting more difficult by the day as organizations and supply chain professionals look for answers in their strategies and the technologies they use as the foundation for their supply chains. Oftentimes, the solution is not replacing the legacy systems they have in place but by connecting and extending them with a supply chain control tower.
We live in a “Now” economy with customers that are consistently expecting faster and faster delivery service levels with the same amount of care and in-full execution. However, doing so has become increasingly complex in the supply chain. Orders are coming in with greater variability due to more front-end options and the geographies we need to service with our supply chain are growing. So it’s not just about increased speed but increased speed with more tailored supply chains across increasingly expanding geographies.
As organizations move forward with determining how to transform their supply chains, it’s critical to understand that successful supply chains aren’t driven just by more investment into static resources but about agility in the way that we use our assets, investments and partners. The one constant we know is that business changes will happen and these changes will have a direct impact on our supply chains increasing the need to adjust and adapt quickly to drive cost efficient and customer focused practices.
Everything you know about supply chain visibility is wrong or at the very least it’s limited. You may look at your supply chain today and say “I have good supply chain visibility” but I’d ask you how you define it.
Are you coming to Atlanta for the CSCMP Edge conference? Have you thought about making a long weekend out of it and spending some time out of the conference? Maybe your flight out after the conference leaves you with a few hours to burn downtown.
Over the past decade, supply chain leaders have increasingly been asked to reduce the cost associated with fulfilling of customer orders on-time and in-full. However, in most cases, they have been asked to do so with less funding while the quantity of orders has increased. Let’s face it; that is tough position to be in.
This past Thursday, Brian Hodgson and I shared our thoughts on the evolution of control towers and what to look for when looking for a control tower to solve your business needs. You can find the on-demand recording here!
As always, we get a lot of questions during our webinars and here are our answers to attendee’s questions.
Yesterday, preorders for the new (or old) SNES Classic were made available at multiple retailers including Target, Amazon, Best Buy and Gamestop (Toys R’ Us is offering them in-store only on 9/29). It was an exciting moment especially for all the people who grew up playing 16-bit games in their youth.
When in 1921, London's Croydon Airport introduced it’s first air traffic control tower, it did so to better manage an increasingly complex operation and ensure every pilot and passenger's safety on incoming and outgoing flights. The supply chain Control Tower has followed a similar trajectory, though what began as a simple visibility tool has advanced to encompass so much more. "Control Tower" has also become a buzzword. Though offered by many software providers, the term's meaning tends to vary depending on the source.
In this post, we’ll discuss the industry's growing complexity and how this change of pace is driving leaders to better optimize and measure their supply chains. We begin by exploring the different types of Control Towers in the market, and what you should look for based on your needs.
Too often in supply chain we are focused on the immediate; on the execution of our orders today without as much thought on how our process and strategy should and will evolve in order to serve our operational needs as we expand our product lines, our markets and our geographic customer footprint.
Most of the time that I hear about innovation in the supply chain, I read about robotics, Uber and self-driving trucks or the automated drones that will soon be delivering our Amazon packages.
However, while the mind-space of the media and articles trends toward these innovations, the conversations that we have with supply chain leaders usually are more grounded. They care about their operational supply chain and how to improve and optimize their flows, costs and service level to their customers. Robots are great but they have pressing need for innovation in how they execute their supply chains from how they collaborate with suppliers and partners to dynamically using inventory across their supply chain networks.
As supply chain professionals we always look forward to joining the conversation happening about supply chain’s evolution and this is why we were excited about attending the Supply Chain & Logistics Summit & Expo in Barcelona and the Chicago 3PL Summit. During the events, we had numerous conversations with supply chain professionals, listened to inspiring presenters talk about their supply chain innovations and enjoyed the informal program with great networking events.
Last week, Geodis released their 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide Survey and it’s worth the read. The findings for the report provide a wealth of information and benchmarking stats on the current state of supply chain strategies worldwide.
If you read our blog with any regularity you've probably noticed that we often share and comment on the musings of Adrian Gonzalez of Talking Logistics on here. This week MP Objects CEO, Martin Verwijmeren, along with Geodis VP of Supply Chain, Eric St. Amand, were guests on his video show.
Meet MPO at the Supply Chain & Logistics Summit & Expo, June 19-21
Next week more than 600 industry leaders will come together in Barcelona to discuss the latest trends and tools in supply chain. Over the three days of sessions you'll get to hear from thought leaders from across a wide spectrum of industries.
E-commerce leaders such as Amazon and Warby Parker have created competitive advantage with advanced logistics, shipping, and returns processes, building fanatically loyal and high value customers. The trends in consumer e-commerce are penetrating into B2B, where customers expect the same flexible service, ease of use, and multitude of delivery and return options.
"80% of goods will be made in a country different from where they are consumed.” This shift in movement and consumption of goods will require improved management of the associated supply chain processes, according to McKinsey & Company on supply Chains 2020.
BOSTON, MA – February 28, 2017 – MP Objects (“MPO”), a leading provider of cloud-based Supply Chain Orchestration software for “Customer Chain Control,” today announced it has moved its commercial headquarters to the U.S. in the center of Boston, adding to its international locations in Rotterdam, Tokyo and Hyderabad.
We are quite excited to have invested in MP Objects. You will see that MPO is “the leading provider of cloud-based Customer Chain Control SaaS” (more on that below), works with a bunch of terrific customers, including international logistics leaders and blue chip companies such as CEVA, DSV, Geodis, eBay, IBM, Microsoft, Dow, Terex, Patagonia and Oakley, and has raised $10 million.
Effective customer chain control can elevate your business to the next level while at the same time provide a competitive edge and help build a positive reputation for companies in any industry, and companies that ensure supply continuity and optimal functioning all along the supply chain are better able to satisfy the demands of their customers.
MPO will be exhibiting at the CSCMP 2016 annual conference in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms resort Kissimmee, Florida, US on 25-28 September 2016.
Visit MPO at stand 1129 at the supply chain exchange to discover how its SaaS for Supply Chain Orchestration is used by Logistics Service Providers and companies around the world for optimizing their supply chains.
“Customer Chain Control” SaaS leader will use funds for US expansion"
ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS AND BOSTON, MA – MP Objects BV (“MPO”), the leading provider of cloud-based Customer Chain Control Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”), today announced it has raised its first round of outside capital in a $10 million growth equity investment from Updata Partners. MPO’s cloud-based SaaS allows its users, including international logistics leaders and blue chip companies such as CEVA, DSV, eBay, Geodis, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Patagonia and Unilever, to manage and optimize individual customer orders through today’s increasingly complex and global supply chains. MPO has experienced very strong revenue growth in recent years, and it will use the new investment to expand into the United States and scale its marketing and sales.
Current invoice matching systems check on static amounts and volumes only. They simply lack the capability to match on actual performance of ordered services. For Logistics this is crucial. This is now often done by time consuming post calculation activities and roles.
What if Invoice Matching could also focus on actual performance?
An integrated approach could lead to >10% improvement on operating income!
Let’s zoom in on your billing process and find out how Dynamic invoice matching adds performance control to your process.
Opening the World’s Largest automated Ecommerce DC is not something you do overnight! Wehkamp, Dutch Ecommerce giant, was well aware of this.
At SCM Supply Chain Day 2016 in Scherpenzeel, Harold Geerts (D-voted) takes you on a virtual tour. He explains how he and his team at Wehkamp developed and implemented a spot on route to get the job done!
As a Supply Chain Director you are forced to bridgetwo contradictory demands: customer intimacy and operational excellence. And even if you like to deal with challenges, this might cause headaches every once in a while. Maybe you know how to manage them, but do you have the systems to do so? Customer control can have a huge impact on a supply chain, for both logistics service providers (LSP’s) and shippers (manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers).
An interview with Kees Jan Roodbergen lecturer quantitative logistics at the University of Groningen.
There are still many questions about e-fulfilment for which there are no ready-made answers.Different retailers make different decisions about outsourcing versus insourcing of their logistics operations. Cross-channel retailing and back-end collaboration with other webshops are other areas in which retailers currently are looking for best practices. It looks like cross-channel retailing and horizontal collaboration are on the rise. Time to get an expert opinion from Kees Jan Roodbergen lecturer at the University of Groningen and leader of the Dinalog project, "Cross Chain Order Fulfilment Coordination for Internet Sales".
Picture yourself stuck in a traffic jam between fellow luxury cars and glass trucks. In today’s logistics world this would not be a pretty sight.
Suddenly you would realize that 1 out of 3 trucks is empty and the rest is only loaded to 60-70% of its capacity. If these trucks and trailers were to be really made of glass the cause of our sufferings would be instantly made visible.
The doorbell rings and Martha rushes to open the door with eager anticipation. She is awaiting the bunch of beautiful, sweet-smelling, red roses that her husband surprises her with, at every Valentine’s Day. When she opened the door, however, her joy quickly turns to disappointment. A delivery boy stands outside, with a bouquet that holds a dozen wistful looking red roses that are nearing their end. Martha is unhappy and her husband is indignant with the florist.
Supply chain companies across the world work relentlessly hard in order to avoid Martha’s episode. A poorly orchestrated supply chain causes colossal financial losses, severe dips in customer happiness and tarnishes brand reputation in the matter of just a few minutes.
“By the year 2020, 80% of the goods (compared to 20% today) will be manufactured in a country different from where they are consumed.”
Th insight above from McKinsey & Company's supply chain study illustrates the changing nature of supply chain in today's landscape. Supply chains are becoming more global and international not only with the parties involved in fulfilling and delivering an order but also in the flattening of the potential market for our goods and services. Companies that are pursuing growth will need to think about how to deal with this global environment and all the supply chain complexity that comes with it including quicker lead times, increased options and expanded product portfolios.
As global markets are rapidly opening up, customers increasingly dictate new requirements with respect to supply chain services. Let’s focus on the customer and see the reasons behind this power shift.
The challenge of meeting customer expectations for modern retailers has extended beyond the online store and the storefront to deep into the back office. To compete effectively, it is no longer just a matter of offering a customer the right product online and delivering it later on.
In my last blog I discussed the international e-commerce success of the American giant Amazon and eBay. We have seen that this combination of e-commerce and internationalization requires dynamic orchestration of the flows across the parties in the network of different supply chains for flexible e-fulfillment. The success of e-commerce seems unstoppable. See below how Alibaba in Asia and RFS Wehkamp in Europe develop international e-commerce. Is your company ready for this new Supply Chain Orchestration? Download the presentation on international e-commerce.
The success of e-commerce is unstoppable. Customers have discovered the benefits of online buying as an attractive channel next to brick and mortar shopping. This trend of omni-channel sales is not just visible in business-to-consumer markets, but also in business-to- business and consumer-to-consumer channels.
And a new heavy storm is currently hitting the dynamic e-commerce markets. Sellers and buyers were traditionally bound to their home markets with local supply for local demand. These days the front runners in online retailing and online wholesaling are going abroad, entering into new countries and even crossing continents.
E-commerce first and internationalization next require dynamic supply chain orchestration of the flows across the parties in the network of different supply chains for flexible e-fulfillment. See below how the American Amazon and eBay succeed in the international e-commerce environment. The question is; are you ready for this new international Supply Chain Orchestration? Download the MPO presentation on international e-commerce.
Effective supply chain management can provide a competitive edge and help build a positive reputation for companies in any industry. Companies that ensure supply continuity and optimal functioning all along the supply chain are better able to satisfy the demands of their customers.
As global markets are rapidly opening up, customers increasingly dictate new requirements with respect to supply chain services. This forces retailers, wholesalers, brand owners and logistics service providers to perfectly orchestrate the processes across parties and systems in the supply chain. Software as a Service (SaaS) for supply chain orchestration provides real-time control over planning and execution resulting in true best of breed performance. This creates a great new customer experience in terms of customer intimacy and operational excellence. MP Objects and Supply Chain Movement have created a mindmap on Supply Chain Orchestration including a handy description of the route and with road signs indicating potential hazards along the way.
MP Objects was the proud sponsor of the International Supply Chain Summit Istanbul (ISCSI) 2014 recently held in the metropolitan capital of Turkey. The international conference was held to present the transformation to 2020 in the world of supply chain management. Managers and professionals discussed the opportunities and challenges in global supply chains. Special interest was paid to bridging supply chain management across Europe and Asia and the pivot position of Turkey in connecting these continents.
DSV is a global supplier of transport and logistics solutions. With offices in more than 70 countries and an international network of partners and agents, making them a truly global player. The effective, professional solutions provided by the company's 22,000 employees enabled DSV to record a worldwide revenue of 6.1 billion euro for 2013.
Many people talk about the transformation going to 2020. What are the opportunities and challenges that will affect the global supply chain? The International Supply Chain Summit Istanbul (ISCSI) points out the following trends:
HighJump Software Expands Transportation Management Solutions to Customers Outside of U.S.
Partnership with MP Objects will serve companies around the world, also extend reach of HighJump warehouse management system
HighJump Software, a global provider of supply chain management software, announced that a partnership with MP Objects of the Netherlands will expand a transportation management system (TMS) offering to customers around the world, as well as extend the reach of the HighJump warehouse management system (WMS). MP Objects is the European leader in transport management services, with additional offices in the U.S. and India. The TMS solution features the signature flexibility and adaptability that HighJump Software customers have come to expect, allowing the software to be configured to a company’s exact needs.
The MPO Supply Chain Suite is a proven solution for E-Commerce Fulfilment in consumer and business markets since many years. The SaaS orchestrates the entire chains of internal and external order fulfilment actions once the e-commerce order has been placed in the webshop. MPO SCS supports logistics service options, dynamic order consolidation, warehouse milestone monitoring, optimal carrier selection, delivery event management, logistics cost control and on-line management information. The system provides end-to-end order visibility over multiple warehouses and carriers, so customers can get a unified view of the order status via the webshop.
The new release of the MPO Supply Chain Suite comes with flexible features for Synchronized Dock Scheduling by planners or carriers via the web.
Loading and unloading docks of the distribution centers can be modeled as resources with limited capacity over time. Trucks can be assigned for loading/unloading to a particular dock during a specified time window.
The unique strength of dock scheduling in MPO SCS is the synchronization with the inbound and outbound flows to and from the distribution centers. The unloading operations can be based on expected order receipts, while the loading operations are related to outgoing shipment orders.
MP Objects has been ranked highest as Independent Software Vendor for Supply Chain Management in the Top 50 published by Dutch private equity investor Main. This special position of MP Objects in the Main Capital Top 50 is the result of amongst others double digit growth, quality of the revenue and presence in the market.
MP Objects sponsors the International Supply Chain Summit being held in Istanbul this week. The conference is on Building the Bridge between Europe and Asia and will introduce supply chain managers in the opportunities of the fast growing economy of Turkey.
The new software release MPO SCS 2013.03 offers extended features for Inbound Management. Extra system features help manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and warehouse service providers to better plan and execute the incoming shipment orders once purchase orders have been placed with suppliers.
MP Objects participates to the International Exhibition for Logistics, IT and Supply Chain Management. The Transport Logistic Fair these days is held every two years in Munich (Germany) and has become the biggest logistics trade fair in Europe.
For this event MP Objects has joined forced with the Holland International Distribution Council, to emphasize the innovation power of the MP Objects software for inbound, outbound and returns management for central European Distribution Centers.
MP Objects has launched the 2013.02 release of the MPO Supply Chain Suite. A brand new user interface for hand scanners has been introduced to support mobile scanning for unloading, sorting and loading shipments with detailed container control. Distinctive colors of scanner menu options help the operators to improve efficiency and increase quality of crossdock operations.
MP Objects participates to the Centric Relationship Day being held these days in Naarden (Netherlands). Centric is software vendor of Locus WMS, system integrator and sales partner of MP Objects in the Benelux.
Centric customers, prospects and partners get together to exchange knowledge and reinforce relationships. The event informs participants on the trends in WMS and TMS integation, the impact of E-commerce on order fulfilment and the latest solutions for business intelligence (big data).
MP Objects has extended its partnership with Supply Chain Media, the ambitious publisher of Supply Chain Magazine and Supply Chain Movement. These leading European magazines and website communities are widely recognized and used by the decision makers in supply chains.
MP Objects is proud sponsor of the European conference of Supply Chain Management Professionals happening 15-17 May 2013 in Amsterdam.
The CSCMP Europe 2013 Conference will provide best practices refined by the experiences of leading global supply chain executives. The secret to the world’s top-performing companies are their supply chains supporting them. Forward-thinking practitioners create winning supply chain by managing the things that are within control, and anticipate and mitigate those that are not.
The first 2013 release of the MPO Supply Chain Suite has been released to the market. The versatile software package for competitive chain control has been extended with various new product features.
Logistics service providers and shippers can now benefit from a flexible welcome screen configurable to customer needs. For high volume operations a mass order release option has been added for immediate parallel execution. Financial management is further refined with cost and price types which can be translated to the specific needs of the financial parties involved.
MP Objects has been listed in the Main Software 50, a ranking of the most successful independent Dutch software companies. Private equity company Main Capital Partners has launched the Main Software 50 to give more visibility to the Dutch software industry. The ranking was made by weighing criteria such as revenue, revenue growth, quality of revenue and profitability. To ensure complete transparency, IT research bureau Dialogic acted as audit partner. While recession is hitting the European continent, the Dutch product software market is growing in all areas. Many of the Top 50 software vendors focus on the segments ERP, CRM and BI. MP Objects is the only niche player focusing purely on the Supply Chain Management segment.
MP Objects is proud sponsor of the 3PL Summit 2012 being held in Antwerp these days. This intimate event for leaders in logistics organized by Eye For Transport is now the most respected gathering in the 3PL industry. CEOs of LSPs and VP Supply Chains of shippers are recognizing smart systems to be vital for competitive supply chain services. An internal ERP system is perfectly fine for commercial order management, but a new optimizing orchestration system is needed for flexible logistics order management in complex dynamic markets. MP Objects will show how Top LSPs successfully run the Control Towers for their most demanding corporate clients on the MPO Supply Chain Suite. The unique SaaS helps LSPs and shippers to increase their agility, velocity, efficiency and compliancy, improving top and bottom line.
MP Objects participates in the Annual Global Conference 2012 of the Council of Supply Chain Management professionals in Atlanta. The innovative MPO Supply Chain Suite will be presented at the Supply Chain of the Future exhibition. These days thousands of leaders and professionals across the world come together to share the latest insights in logistics business and technology. The exhibition takes you into a world of automated innovation where you can see solutions provided by high-performing supply chains. The MPO SCS software has world-class capabilities for Supply Chain Visibility, Control Towers and Transport Management. MP Objects will show how Shippers and LSPs value the Competitive Chain Control from higher Velocity, Agility, Efficiency and Compliancy.
MP Objects is pleased to announce the appointment of Gustaf Tanate to the new position of Vice President Sales. The position has been created in response to continued growth, global expansion and increased demand for international presence. Prior to joining MP Objects, Gustaf Tanate held senior international sales positions within the (supply chain) software industry. These are including enterprise software vendors Infor, PeopleSoft and i2 Technologies. Most recently he was Director Sales & Business Development at Emptoris (IBM). With more than 20 years of experience in sales management, direct and channel sales, Gustaf Tanate brings a wealth of experience to lead the further expansion of the global organization, drive new growth initiatives and ensure continued focus for global clients.
Logistics service provider DSV is serving the world's largest cosmetics and beauty company using the MPO Supply Chain Suite. The smart software of MP Objects automatically consolidates customer orders from L'Oréal before European distribution by DSV Road. The criteria for consolidation can be set and adjusted by flexible configuration to deal with new commercial requirements. The runnning SaaS solution reduces order execution costs and increases customer service levels at the same time.
IT solution provider Centric organized a seminar on the future of warehousing. Guest speakers presented new e-commerce solutions, supply chain concepts and material handling technologies. A new E-Commerce Information Platform presented by prof. Kees Jan Roodbergen requires shared systems for commercial management (front-office) and logistics management (back-office). The MPO Supply Chain Suite could provide the functions for dynamic e-fulfillment, supply chain planning, external transport management, order status visibility and logistics cost control. Centric is sales and implementation partner of MP Objects. The MPO SCS extends Centric's Locus WMS with flexible functions for dynamic supply chain management.
Supply chain leaders of the Netherlands assembled on a boat in Rotterdam for the annual Supply Chain Professional election. The finalist nominees from Philips, Océ and Pearle competed at the final day of the SCP 2012 contest. MP Objects participated to this exclusive shippers event as sponsor of Supply Chain Media. Following audience discussion and jury reporting, Erik Botter of Pearle won the prestigious Supply Chain Professional 2012 award.
MP Objects is being recognized as a strong player in the emerging software market for Supply Chain Visibility. Capgemini has conducted a market study on the available systems and vendors like Oracle, Manhattan, RedPrairie and MP Objects. Supply chain visibility is identified as key enabler for companies to create digital supply chains with collaboration across partners.
The cloud software of MP Objects perfectly covers the optimization areas of order management (Planning), event management (Execution), cost control (Finance) and business intelligence (Reporting). Unique strength of the MPO Supply Chain Suite is the integral control of supply chain execution across Production, Inbound Transport, Warehousing and Outbound Transport.
MP Objects has launched its new website www.mp-objects.com. The new site is geared to publication of dynamic content and is integrated with social media. Also content and style have been enhanced to show the latest developments of the software and company.
The MPO SCS provides seamless integration with a long list of carriers, including integrators like TNT, DHL, UPS, as well as LTL/FTL carriers such as DSV, Kühne & Nagel and Geodis. The smart MP Objects software provides on-site and on-line printing of carriers via the web. Carrier labels can be created in line with the packing process of the WMS, thus taking away the need to use different isolated carrier systems. The SaaS of MP Objects also supports the order interfaces for shipment pre-alerts to carriers, as well the status interfaces for events from carriers. Finally, interfaces are available for automatic import of electronic invoices in carrier formats. For smaller carriers or low volume operations, the MPO SCS provides a fully integrated webportal for carriers to read their outstanding orders and enter the order status updates.
MP Objects has launched new features for customer orders in the MPO SCS release 2012.01. The software can control the many to many relationships between customer orders in ERP systems and shipment orders in WMS and TMS. Users at shippers, logistics service providers and customers can track and trace via the web on any of the order references.
Smart features for Product Master Data have been launched in the MPO SCS release 2012.02. Order information from various WMS, TMS and ERP systems in the supply chain can be completed with product master data in the MPO SCS. The unified product information can be used to configure flexible business rules for supply chain management. Product data can determine the service level requirements, process flows, order consolidation, carrier selection and service rates.
The partner network of MP Objects has been extended with LBB. From its offices in Kuala Lumper, LBB will sell the MPO Supply Chain Suite for customers in Malaysia and Singapore. LBB is a strong player in the emerging markets of halal supply chains. The software of MP Objects can perfectly control the halal requirements for logistics service providers.