Declining letter volumes and parcel competition are serious challenges faced by postal companies. Having a competitive supply chain is key to thrive, and survive, in this environment. How can postal companies make headway? The answer lies on changing culture as much as it does on rethinking technology.
Change should start with culture and organizational alignment
Global e-commerce growth and converging technologies are pushing postal companies to diversify their revenues and increase operational efficiency quickly. To support this change, many postal operators are modernizing their technology stack and relying increasingly on advanced analytics. UPS, for instance, has managed to save up $50 million a year in fuel, vehicle maintenance and time by optimizing vehicle routes with a big data model. The company has also won several awards for providing consumers with more control over deliveries using digital products.
The digital age has just begun. We haven’t seen the full force of disruptive business and operating models and there is no doubt that many more will keep emerging. We are only beginning to see the impact that digital transformation will have on our human resources as well. This will demand the creation of new and higher levels of personal development and organizational effectiveness to manage and sustain this culture transformation.
What are companies looking for in supply chain network design technologies? What works well, and what are the challenges? We commissioned Supply Chain Insights to conduct independent research about this topic and discussed the findings in a recent webinar. Today, we’re pleased to share a more extensive report on this topic. The report covers perceptions about supply chain network design (SCND) as a process and outlines the key benefits and barriers experienced by companies when using SCND technology. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings.
The next frontier: supply chain data architecture for your needs, not to feed the needs of numerous supply chain tech vendors
Data overload and quality issues are common problems faced by all organizations. This makes it really difficult to start getting value out of data with analytics. Inevitably, when you buy supply chain optimization software, you need to start hunting around for data to make the technology work – it can feel like you work for the technology vendor, not the other way around. That’s why 60% of the time spent in analytical supply chain projects is spent collecting data. The focus is on making the data work for the technology, rather than tackling your business need.
But today’s SC leaders don’t have weeks or months to solve pressing problems and the worse thing is, it doesn’t necessarily get easier once you’ve been through your first solution implementation. You may have deployed an out of the box Network Design solution. Implementing an Inventory Optimization App will take another tedious data integration process. In a supply chain context, that means it will take months before you can actually start improving margins, availability and service levels. To work proactively with analytics and truly embed them in your organization, data needs to be structured smarter and accessed for many needs.
Reflections following the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in London
Last month, our team had the pleasure to attend Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference in London, a growing event that we’re always thrilled to participate in. This time, the event hosted 15% more visitors and took place at the Intercontinental O2 hotel. For us, it was a special occasion because we had the opportunity to give the event’s audience a preview of AIMMS SC Navigator – our new analytics solution for supply chain teams. It was also a great venue to re-connect with existing customers and meet Gartner analysts, who gave us valuable feedback on our product. The event’s theme was ACT – Aspire-Challenge-Transform in a disruptive world, a call to action to recognize the impact of disruptions and define a digital supply chain strategy to improve performance. Advanced analytics (machine learning, advanced algorithms, deep learning, neural networks) are at the core of these disruptions and a crucial enabler for digital transformation. Still, companies struggle to adopt advanced analytics for supply chain. Resources and data quality are the most common obstacles.
The first half of this year has flown by and for many of us, it’s time for a much needed vacation. We’ve put together a new reading (and watch) list for this summer to help you gather some refreshing ideas as you gear up to plan for 2018. The list includes the best of our blog and news items, our latest webinars and most recent case studies. It’s the perfect companion for an inspiring holiday break!
Best of our Blog:
- 3 compelling reasons to start using Prescriptive Analytics: AIMMS’ SVP, Gertjan de Lange, discusses 3 major reasons businesses are feeling more compelled to adopt Prescriptive Analytics, a form of advanced analytics that uses techniques like machine learning and mathematical modeling to help you improve decision making.
- AIMMS featured in IT Subway Map of European Supply Chain Software Providers: We’re proud to report that we’ve been featured in 5 different subway lines, or software categories, in this year’s IT Subway Map of European SC Software Providers. Looking for a software provider for Business Analytics, S&OP, Inventory Optimization, Production Planning & Scheduling or SC Network Design? Browse the map and you’ll find yourself in our stop!
- Supply Chain Network Optimization Technology is ripe for disruption: Network optimization software has become a big business that’s experienced exponential growth. There has been strong adoption of boxed solutions that are feature rich with many bells and whistles. Why hasn’t it become cheaper or easier to have an optimized network? Chris Gordon, AIMMS VP North America, discusses this on our blog.
- Why you don’t need perfect data to start implementing S&OP: To truly leverage S&OP to improve business performance and predictability, you need to embark on a change management process and you need the right technology to self-enable your team. Often, teams think they also need plenty of clean and accurate data to do it right. But starting small can pay off, as Boon Edam’s Aron Waas (Global SC Director) explains in our recent blog post.
- Companies in Asia Pacific eager to innovate with Supply Chain Optimization: The adoption of advanced analytics has moved at a much slower pace in Asia Pacific compared to Europe or North America. But the tide is turning, as Lei Wang, AIMMS VP Asia Pacific, explains in this blog post.
An interview with Boon Edam’s Aron Waas
As we wrote in a previous blog post, implementing Sales and Operations Planning has many benefits. To truly leverage it to improve business performance and predictability, you need to embark on a change management process and you need the right technology to self-enable your team. Often, teams think they also need plenty of clean and accurate data to do it right. But starting small can pay off. We spoke with Aron Waas, Global Supply Chain Director at Royal Boon Edam International to hear about his company’s experience.
Hello Aron, can you tell me more about Boon Edam and your role as Global Supply Chain Director?
Boon Edam is a private, family-owned company that is over 140 years old. We are a manufacturer of premium entry systems, such as revolving doors and security access gates. We have 3 factories, one in USA, one in China and one in the Netherlands (in the city of Edam). We have over 20 sales subsidiaries and, at this stage, 3 different Distribution & Support Centers. These centers (or D&SCs) support our sales subsidiaries with all their inquiries, service requests and the delivery of products and services.
I am part of the global management team, responsible for everything that has to do with supply chain management. The directors of our D&SCs report directly to me.
Choosing a supply chain software vendor can be a long and tedious process. You need to make sure the software has the right capabilities, that you have the right people on board to truly leverage it and that it will support and not hinder your processes. Supply Chain Media publishes a yearly IT Subway Map to help business leaders in their decision making process. We are pleased to announce that we’ve been featured once more in the report. This is the fourth time AIMMS is named in the IT Subway Map. This time, we have been allocated five different subway lines, or software categories.
Mapping European Supply Chain Software
The IT Software Map reflects the diversity of supply chain software types. Companies are allocated positions on the map based on the number of implementations and the share of revenue for each software type in Europe. The age and size of the company also plays a role in the selection process.
With the Subway Map, business leaders can navigate a wide array of vendors available in the market for the most sought after solution types. Supply Chain Media’s Martijn Lofvers explains: “The purpose of the IT Subway Map is to provide a wide overview of the supply chain software market in Europe. We know that users think in solutions, but we don’t want to put vendors in a box, as we recognize that some software types are very versatile. That’s why a single vendor can have multiple stops on the map.”
Something struck me after spending a few days in Phoenix at Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference. Supply Chain Network Optimization is key to running an efficient and profitable operation today. But while the market has changed, network optimization hasn’t actually advanced much since the 1990s. Yes, there are lots more features and a big increase in computing power. Yet, network optimization is still just a richer version of the 90’s experience.
Analyzing the software market
Network optimization software has become a big business that’s experienced exponential growth. There has been strong adoption of boxed solutions that are feature rich with many bells and whistles. What I heard at the Gartner conference is growing frustration with these large packages that have become cumbersome to use, too difficult for the average supply chain expert, lack flexibility and have high price tags. Sound familiar?
So what is the alternative? First, we need to go back to the original purpose. Supply Chain teams shouldn’t be overly focused on technology. Instead, they should have their eyes set on the desired outcome. Supply Chain teams want a supply chain network that runs in an optimized fashion, with signals that indicate when and where to invest in future infrastructure. The network optimization tool should just be a means to an end.
So why hasn’t it become easier and cheaper to have an optimized network? Why are companies investing more and more in this focused discipline?
The adoption of advanced analytics has moved at a much slower pace in Asia Pacific compared to Europe or North America. There are innovative firms that are setting the standard for innovation and successful analytics adoption, but as Actionable Intelligence expert Keith B. Carter explained in an interview with us last year, large businesses in the region are still lagging behind. In recent months, I‘ve been active in several events in the region and I’ve noticed a changing trend. Companies are increasingly eager to hear about optimization and advanced analytics. It’s not hard to see why. People are very intrigued by Prescriptive Analytics and Modeling, hearing success stories from counterparts in industries like energy and retail. Still, most businesses are worried about execution. Let’s take a closer look at their interests and concerns.
Areas of interest
There are several areas where companies are eager to apply optimization. These tend to be:
- Network design and planning: the process of evaluating complex trade-offs to deliver a network plan that maximizes profits and minimizes costs.
- Distribution center and coverage planning: a process to identify what the best location for your distribution centers is to ensure efficient and on-time deliveries across the chain.
- Stock allocation: the process of aligning supply and demand to move merchandise in a fast and agile way.
- Production planning: determining a production plan to serve different customers in an optimal way.
The need for advanced analytics in these areas is pressing, as large amounts of data are available, adding complexity to operations. However, there are some concerns hindering adoption.