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/blog Leveraging Information as an Asset for Digital Transformation in Supply Chain and Logistics

by KellyHicks

What is Digital Transformation?

/ˈdijidl/ /ˌtran(t)sfərˈmāSH(ə)n/
The process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimaging of business in the digital age is digital transformation.

Close up of a group of workers working in a warehouseDigital transformation is being used and defined in a variety of different ways. To us, digital transformation is about identifying new business opportunities using digital data. It’s about improving the customer experience, creating new operational efficiencies, and finding ways to improve the bottom line.

But how do you do it? With so much data, how can you leverage it as an asset for digital transformation in supply chain operations? How can you gain end-to-end visibility into supply chains that extend across the globe? During the Digital Transformation Storytelling Session, HVR’s CTO Mark Van de Wiel and SVP of Global Sales John Sedleniek, discussed common data challenges within the supply chain and how organizations are leveraging real-time data to improve operational efficiencies.

Common Challenges

Resilience and Agility
A photo of young colleagues standing near glass window Prior to the global pandemic, organizations were looking to optimize operational efficiencies by moving data into more cost-effective, performant reporting systems for greater visibility and real-time decision making. Today, agility and resilience are a major challenge. The global pandemic interrupted the supply chain and brought to light the difficulty in being able to quickly respond and distribute products to the end consumer.

For example, HVR works with two large health manufacturers. Prior to the pandemic, they were focused on operational efficiency and optimization. Today, they’re focused on using HVR to build systems that connect disparate data sources so teams across the enterprise can understand what real-time decisions and shifts they need to make in order to accommodate market requirements.

Top view of office employee's desk - work with financial reports, analysis and accounting, tables and graphs, various office items for bookkeepingIn many cases, organizations only have access to and control of a portion of their data. Visibility into the entire supply chain is becoming more and more important. Organizations are not only looking for an opportunity to gain visibility into manufacturing, raw materials, orders, and customer support data but visibility into the partner ecosystem as well.

One of HVR’s customers, a large online retailer, used a robust but very limited system to source, manage, and distribute products through third parties. HVR provided them with a cost-effective cloud-adoption strategy. Through the cloud, they were able to pull in unique and distributed data sources for the first time, giving them a 360-degree view of their supply chain.


Cloud Adoption
Cloud computing concept. Cloud with blockchainElectronic data interchange (EDI) has been an industry-standard in supply chain for decades. It was the main way many organizations exchanged information about manufacturing and production. Now, RFID, barcodes, and tracking chips have created an explosion of data. Organizations are working with more data than they’ve ever been able to exchange through EDI. With more data, there is an opportunity to look for technologies that not only store the data but also help you analyze it.

Organizations are adopting cloud technologies because of its ability to scale in secure environments. Cloud technologies make it easier to manage different types of data like APIs, IoT, and RFID at high volumes. Since the management of data is automated through cloud technologies, data scientists have the time and ability to analyze data quickly, so users can make meaningful decisions.

Real-Time Analytics
Deciphering some business dataTo get more specific, EDI has typically been used to “license plate” shipments for tracking movement from point A all the way to point Z. EDI created significant overhead and operational costs. In contrast, by moving this process over to the cloud, organizations gain the flexibility to decide how much data they want to pull and if they want near real-time visibility into that shipment, without the burden of additional costs.

For example, the customer success teams at a third-party logistics organization had good information following the “license plate,” or shipment journey, but in order to price dynamically and make customer changes, there were nowhere close to real-time. By leveraging technologies like HVR and its log-based CDC, they were able to pull all of their disparate systems and flows of information into a cloud-based infrastructure. Not only did they see immediate cost-saving, but they now have almost real-time visibility into their current inventory of shipments, backloads, space availability, and assets.

To provide another example, the supply chain for a global manufacturer and distributor of personal care products was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an extreme and sudden influx of demand for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products. This particular personal care organization distributes its own product. From the point of manufacturing to delivery to the point of sales, they were responsible for all it. The pandemic could have led to a serious and complex supply chain issue.

Warehouse cargo courier shipment. Stack of cardboard boxes on wooden pallet and truck docking at warehouseBecause they had real-time data, they had insight into their supply and demand. The organization managed to adjust their supply chain, in essentially real-time, to make sure the product was available in the right location at the right time.

Unfortunately, black swan events like the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to happen. And they will continue to disrupt the supply chain when we least expect it. Therefore, this is the perfect time to rethink your data needs and how you can make it work to optimize your supply chain.

Knowing what to do with the right information at the right time is incredibly empowering. To learn more about how organizations are accelerating their digital transformation strategies by leveraging real-time data and cloud technologies, register for a Digital Transformation Storytelling session.

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