Is your supply chain fit? – from MHD magazine

Is your supply chain fit? – from MHD magazine

Steven Hayes

Businesses in Asia Pacific face what is arguably the most critical ‘customer experience’ imperative in the world. With 71 per cent of consumers making online purchases, investment in e-commerce is constantly on the rise. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more demanding; 76 per cent of consumers in the Asia Pacific region now say that customer service should be a company’s top priority. Therefore, businesses must do all in their power to raise the bar and create winning customer service that keep people coming back for more.

Today’s business leaders are challenged with delivering differentiated ‘customer experiences’, and this has led many to rethink their supply chain operations. These organisations must cope with exponential demand, and supply chains need to become much faster and precise. 2018 looks set to be a critical year, with 94% of supply chain leaders saying that digital transformation will fundamentally change supply chains this year. Business leaders are moving quickly and investing in digital tools to obtain real-time demand data, shorten replenishment cycle times, optimise deliveries, and predict future demand. The rest will be left behind.

“Businesses must do all in their power to raise the bar and create winning customer service that keep people coming back for more.”

Who exactly are these leaders? There are many to choose from: the Asia Pacific market brings together the right combination of logistics and e-commerce expertise required to drive breakthrough innovation. Where this innovation happens, customer service is taken to new heights.

Supply chain transformation in action

Take SpeedFactory by Adidas, for example. SpeedFactory uses advanced 3D printing technology from Carbon, Adidas’ supply chain partner. The printers allow athletes to order hyper-personalised running shoes with unique soles that are tailored to the individual’s weight, foot contour and running style. The shoe design even incorporates data that takes account of conditions in different cities, thereby meeting the needs of runners in the exact environment in which they’re running.

By rethinking its supply chain, Carbon has enabled something special: marketing on a truly individual level. In part, it has been able to do this through advanced cloud applications for areas such as customer service, procurement, inventory, order management, manufacturing, and supply chain. The cloud has made it easier for Adidas to interact with a global supply chain in an economical way – essential as it ramps up production with global brands.

But it’s not only consumer brands that are enhancing the customer experience through supply chain transformation. Take Bac Ky Logistics. This Vietnamese logistics company has embraced automation to deliver stronger overall customer service. The company has completely automated the scheduling of transportation and delivery management, in the process enhancing transparency and speed of service for customers. The company has also used advanced, data-driven cloud applications to better visualise its supply chain, logistics and trade information in real-time. This has helped it optimise resourcing and reduce the number of empty containers.

Supply chains in the digital age

Such companies are disrupting the supply chain to drive innovation. They are doing this by using data to better join their back- and front-offices, influence product and service development, enable hyper-personalisation and drive efficiency.

According to Bain & Co, companies that integrate digital technologies into their supply chain can quickly improve service levels while cutting costs up to 30 per cent. Agile supply chain operations are, therefore, critical to ensuring that front-office innovations are a success – but most companies are not yet rebuilding their back-office functions fast enough. In fact, according to research from Accenture and HfS, over 50 per cent of enterprises say it takes months or even years for their support business functions to make changes in response to evolving business needs. The reasons given for this include siloed internal processes, which approximately 80 per cent of organisations cite as barriers preventing them from achieving their business goals.

Successful companies build a short-term roadmap with concrete initiatives that will start delivering benefits quickly and provide flexibility in reaching long-term supply chain goals.

We believe the cloud roadmap, with Software-as-a-Service for supply chain operations as the core, is the answer. The cloud brings together the disparate data, systems, and partners that comprise supply chains and facilitates their integration across the enterprise. As such, the cloud provides the basis through which back-office operations can be made agile rapidly and with minimal disruption to the business. When you start adding AI- and IoT-led business applications into the supply chain operations, this transforms businesses into intelligent enterprises, further fuelling innovation and customer service differentiation.

Act now

Begin by debating questions at your next board meeting – what will business in Australia look like in five years, and what supply chain capabilities would you need? Organisations that are leading the way in the adoption of cloud and data technologies are making e-commerce faster and more personalised than ever. Other innovators are using data from manufacturing and post-sales to improve their services and create additional revenue streams through new business models. The supply chain is a fundamental driver of success in the digital age and all organisations need to act now by looking at how their own supply chain is set up and whether it is still fit for purpose.

Steven Hayes is the vice president of sales at Oracle Applications ANZ. For more information visit



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