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It’s 11PM – Do You Know Where Your Shipments Are?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     May 28, 2021 3:11:00 PM

The title paraphrases a common nighttime message from my youth. Just before signing off, television stations would ask their viewers: It’s 11pm…Do you know where your children are? It reminds me of a common problem we share in managing our supply chains. We don’t often know the real-time whereabouts of shipments.

Why might that be the case? After all, delivery status updates are ubiquitous. eCommerce merchants email and SMS the order confirmation, shipment date, interim tracking progress at each leg, and now even predict within hours when a parcel will arrive at your front door. Others do less, providing only the tracking number and leaving it up to the customer to check with the carrier on the status of their package.

You may be thinking, “that’s a B2C need, not B2B.” Think again. Two months ago, the massive container ship Ever Given held up over 300 ships for six days after getting stuck on the Suez Canal. If you had a shipment on that or any of those affected ships, how prepared would you have been to know the status and adjust your supply chains and customer expectations to keep them running with minimal disruption?

The unfortunate reality is many companies can’t do this.

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The Need for Speed: Don’t Let These Beliefs Slow Down Your Supply Chain

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Apr 19, 2021 2:59:24 PM

You can try and blame the need for speed on Amazon, with two-day delivery becoming one day and even same day in some instances. But all they’re doing is perfecting what we all want – immediate gratification. The double whammy of the Amazon Effect- and the COVID-19-induced exponential eCommerce spurt is pulling us along at a faster pace than we ever envisioned.

The quest is not new, it’s just now entered onto everyone’s radar. It’s been accelerated. With eCommerce growing more in three months than in the previous ten years, the pressure is on for companies to get moving, regardless of industry segment or business model – we are all affected.

For many, the need for speed is twofold: the urgency to satisfy customers much quicker - whether B2B, B2C, DTC, or brick and mortar – and the subsequent race to get a system in place fast that can deliver on that imperative before your business falls behind. As they say, “time is of the essence.”

Both types of velocity are incredibly attainable today, so what’s holding companies back?

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4 FAQs About Supply Chain Control Towers

Posted by Sophia Shats     Mar 22, 2021 1:58:04 PM

You’ve likely heard it said countless times: Ask 100 people to define supply chain Control Towers and you’ll get 100 different answers. With a wide array of Control Tower solutions on the market, each with their own capabilities and differentiators, it can be challenging to decide which is the right fit and how to sell it internally. There are also many ways to implement a solution, so even after purchase, your strategic work has only begun.

Inspired by a recent conversation between principal Nucleus Research analyst, Andrew MacMillen and Alkimius founder and CEO, Mauro Gonzalez, here are some frequently asked questions we encounter on the topic, as echoed in some of their discussions.

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Software Alone Is Not Enough: Factoring People into Successful Implementations

Posted by Gerry Daalhuisen     Mar 15, 2021 10:16:05 AM

“Digital transformation” typically refers to a technological upgrade. Yet, the new technology is just a tool to get at the heart of what’s really driving the initiative: a desire to change and optimize processes. While a tool can have powerful capabilities, its strength and success will inevitably depend on the people implementing and executing it.

There are many real-world instances of excellent supply chain software that failed to implement. That’s because software alone is not enough; the team you work with is integral to digital transformation success.

Here are five of the most common challenges businesses face in driving a seamless and successful upgrade, and how the right team and approach – as well as some critical software features – enable a fast and effective implementation.

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The Omnichannel Alphabet Soup: Structuring the Unstructured

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Feb 22, 2021 1:57:10 PM

At the start of my career, most brands and OEMs used a traditional two-tier distribution process through wholesalers and retailers to sell their products. “Advanced” companies passed orders via EDI. Brands knew little about their end-users, a far cry from today’s growing customer-centric approach with expanding arrays of channels and convenience options.

The ecosystem and number of touch points are expanding fast, prompting businesses to accrue more systems to effectively conduct commerce, and it’s only proliferating. This begs the question: How does each system talk to the rest of the network? In other words, how do all these systems connect to form a single version of the truth?

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What Exactly Is a Digital Transformation – And Are You Doing It Right?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jan 18, 2021 2:33:35 PM

For some time, I’ve been reading, watching and following the white papers, case studies, and countless webinars put on by keen minds about digital transformations. I must say, the topic doesn’t feel any clearer. Many would have us believe the elements of a digital transformation should include the likes of IoT, AI, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), ML, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and 3D Printing.

In some applications, these transformations are life changing. IoT temperature sensors are enabling the new cold chains for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the use of a digital twin is facilitating the faithful reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Such innovation and advancement are truly a marvel; but, for the average business, the expectation feels daunting, expensive, and drawn out. For most companies, a digital transformation involves a more practical approach.

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The Seamless Shift to a Customer-Centric Supply Chain

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Oct 12, 2020 4:15:01 PM

In our first installment on the value of customer loyalty, we discussed the numbers surrounding trust and customer retention. Indeed, in these unusual circumstances, it has never been more fitting to consider the value of customer loyalty.

Not only has COVID-19 impacted a company’s ability to provide adequate or exemplary customer service levels, but those bound to legacy systems built around silos have found it particularly difficult to quickly respond and adapt.

In a time characterized by chaos and uncertainty, competitive differentiation will be defined by speed, consistency, reliability, and trust. In a practical sense, that means shifting from reactive to proactive, customer-centric supply chains. For those relying on fragmented processes, the solution is faster and simpler than you think.

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What Value Is Customer Loyalty?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Sep 4, 2020 12:25:25 PM

My entire career, I’ve believed that it is easier to get more business from existing customers than to develop new ones. That’s not to say you don’t want new customers, but given the effort and expense involved, trusted relationships tend to win out over unknowns.

Yet, when we think about digital transformation, the topic of customer loyalty is typically an unmentioned benefit and nowhere to be found in the ROI rationale. Why is that?

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This Is Not a Storm to Weather

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jun 15, 2020 3:55:31 PM

While most business cycles ebb and flow, two or three times in a generation we encounter an earth-shattering change that fundamentally reshapes the way we do business. We’re in the eye of the storm – and it’s not one to wait out.

Many refer to the ‘new normal’ as a future reality, yet COVID-19 has had structural impact since its earliest protocols surrounding hygiene and social distancing. They have already transformed the way we do business and it’s only the beginning of a series of ongoing and disruptive changes. So, how are you preparing for the reckoning?

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The Hard Economics of Justifying a Supply Chain Digital Transformation

Posted by Bryce Boothby     May 4, 2020 3:50:09 PM

There have been countless times throughout my career where I was either a recommender or approver of significant IT projects. And, I must say, I have always experienced a prevailing attitude among senior management that these transformations are black holes and money pits.

I believe many (if not most) companies still feel this way. Why? There is a litany of cautionary tales: From Hershey’s widely reported $100 million failed ERP implementation in 2015 to our own personal stories. I’ve seen businesses engage consulting firms only to give up about six months in after slow progress and skyrocketing costs; I’ve witnessed first-hand how a $15 million project ballooned to $40 million before it was even finished.

Let’s talk about why this happens and what can be done about it.

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Time for Plan B: How Supply Chains Can Avoid the Mad Scramble of Disruption

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Apr 6, 2020 2:53:32 PM

The famous idiom “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” couldn’t be more appropriate these days. Supply chain management platforms deal with hypothetical and predictive constraints as part of their solve for uninterrupted results. But unexpected and exceptional events can trigger wildly adverse repercussions even with contingency baked into operational plans.

The Coronavirus – among other upsets, like tariffs – has supply chains scrambling for business network alternatives and “loophole engineering” (similar to what automakers have been doing for years). More than anything else, they’re grappling with the consequences of yesterday’s bad decisions. (It happens). While the focus now is to get things back on track in the short-term, businesses must also start acknowledging the new big picture. It’s time to adopt a platform that is more flexible and therefore resilient to today’s and tomorrow’s upsets.

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Supply Chain Solutions: How to Make the Smartest Investment

Posted by Sophia Shats     Jan 20, 2020 5:16:27 PM

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).

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Optimizing vs. Maximizing: Obtaining a Bird's-Eye View Requires Digital Transformation

Posted by Jordan K. Speer     Jan 6, 2020 3:39:56 PM

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.

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3 Key Lessons on Creating Lasting Supply Chain Success We Learned This Year

Posted by Sophia Shats     Dec 16, 2019 5:30:41 PM

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.

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It’s Time to Stop Playing It Safe: Moving from Incrementalism to Transformation (XI)

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Dec 2, 2019 4:11:11 PM

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.

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