The term “legacy system” often conjures up images of old green-screen terminal programs. Most of those interfaces and the chunky terminals they ran on are long gone, but the systems specialized functionality may be lurking behind your snazzy graphic user interface.
The core capabilities of many organizations have evolved over time from within or have been integrated through mergers that have brought key capabilities in-house. This has resulted in an array of specialized IT systems. So, the question becomes, are those legacy systems dragging your logistics network down, or empowering customized service that helps to differentiate you in the marketplace?
Being successful in the logistics industry has a direct correlation to technology development. As third-party logistics (3PL) organizations have grown, the need to develop technology in line with market evolution and ever-changing customer demands has become a priority. This focus on improvement has driven the development of logistics systems accordingly but has also resulted in a new challenge. Logistics providers are having to manage multiple data streams from individual systems to gain total supply chain visibility and customers are increasingly asking for one source that can provide the information they require at any time. Like a lot of 3PLs, we had to ask ourselves, should we replace the technology that we had invested in with a single external system? And if we did, would we still be able to give our customers the specialized functionality that has kept them satisfied with our logistics services?
Some 3PLs have found a solution by feeding data internally from multiple systems to create a single visibility platform for their customer’s cargo. With the right technology, a 3PL can feed data from any number of systems into one customer-facing, cloud-based platform to provide customers a single control tower platform that can provide visibility to the entire supply chain.
I have worked at many organizations in my career that have employed some big names in data management, but none of those systems came out of the box and were able to provide everything that the company and their customers required. There was always some level of customization required. If your current logistics systems aren’t providing the service that you require, then yes, a new system should be evaluated, but before investing in a high-priced logistics platform ask yourself:
Are my current systems providing the support my customers require?
Do we have the resources to develop our current systems?
Can I integrate information from multiple systems?
Also consider, if your systems are no longer serving your logistics needs, working with a 3PL may provide the capabilities you require.
Most customers aren’t deeply concerned with the code or the databases behind the scenes that provide the information if it performs well and meets their highest needs. Forward-thinking 3PLs have developed solutions under their own roof, providing customers with modern, cloud-based solutions that provide end-to-end supply chain functionality and visibility. Perhaps partnering with a 3PL is the answer to your supply chain technology needs.
Michael Pedersen is manager of solutions development for Yusen Logistics Americas Inc.
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