Watch: How Digitization Enables Customer-Centric Supply Chains | 2021-05-13
A discussion about the progress of digitization as it relates to supply-chain management, especially the handling and transmission of data, with Kendra Phillips, chief technology officer and vice president of new products with Ryder System, Inc.
Digitization today is about “the power of the supply chain to drive a differentiated customer experience,” says Phillips. Forward-looking companies are no longer treating the supply chain as a cost center, but as a source of potential competitive advantage. And that means transitioning from paper-based systems to those involving the real-time transmission of digital data among all partners in the supply chain. The ability to access such vital information instantly “is what’s enabling people to be nimble and react.”
Getting there isn’t easy, though. In the logistics sector, some motor carriers pushed back against new regulations for deploying digitized information, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. But that necessary transition ended up opening the door to digitization and allowed for the tracking of trucks in real time, Phillips notes.
Another challenge in the push for digitization is the general reluctance of people to accept change. The technology makes possible the easy exchange of data, some of which organizations might deem proprietary. Yet there’s a pressing need to share such information with trusted partners in the supply chain., in order to identify obstacles to the efficient movement of product. “It has taken years for folks to get comfortable with that idea,” Phillips says.
Progress toward supply-chain digitization has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, she notes, adding that it has “thrown all excuses out the window.” The crisis forced companies to adapt systems that could identify where both inventory at rest and product in transit was at any given moment.