A company’s most valuable assets are the business processes that guide planning and execution of innovation, operations and relationships with customers and partners. You are your “process” was the mantra of one of my old bosses at SAP. Of course coming from SAP, that may seem a bit self-serving. Nevertheless, in logistics, process is king and timeliness is queen. Logistics clockwork is completely dependent on processes, making the mantra spot on. Now, not all processes are equal. Processes exist in a spectrum from ad-hoc to fully automated. While not ad-hoc, many logistics processes still rely on spreadsheets, emails and phone calls and are therefore manual in nature, requiring many “touches”. In few cases is the process documented and governed by policy but rarely is it automated. In global logistics these internal processes exist in an overarching flow between carriers, terminals, truckers, forwarders and shippers each with their own data silos. Orchestrating that flow has traditionally been very challenging.
The maturity and the ubiquity of Cloud technology is changing this situation rapidly; never before has it been possible to unify all the people, information and processes involved in global supply chain networks. An evolution, called digitalization, is under way to fully automate global flows, connecting all supply chain participants and systems in real-time via the Cloud. If you are a service company, like a freight forwarder, this is a key opportunity to rethink strategy and focus on innovation to gain competitive advantage. Consider, for example, providing your consignee with complete visibility into in-transit inventory and PO management.
Global supply chain flows can be broken down further into interconnected flows of INFORMATION, CARGO and CASH. Trade Tech specializes in simplifying and automating these flows with cloud technology (captured in our neat visual above). Shipping documents and compliance filings are artifacts of these flows. A shipping document is a snapshot of the flow at a specific time from a specific perspective. In other words, a shipping document is merely a view of the flow. Taking a flow centric, versus a document centric approach is important. The flow carriers the necessary information to complete a given document. There is absolutely no need to re-enter the data for the next hand-off in the chain. This seems to be an industry obsession and the source of most inaccuracies, lost visibility, costs and delays. However, only by standardizing core reference data (master data), which is non-trivial, can true automation take place. A Cloud based system that is always on and always connected can automatically synchronize such data. Think sailing schedule, GL account codes, SKUs, carriers codes, port codes, cargo types, hazard codes or stakeholder profiles etc. Workflow rules can now take action based on standardized qualitative data and automation can take place. With repeatable outcomes you are now in pole position for taking your business global. The perspectives of this digitalization are quite exciting: