Demi Obayomi, vice president of Sapphire Ventures, discusses the mainstreaming of supply chain visibility, the critical role of the customer experience, the need for comprehensive risk management, investing in optimization to eliminate waste, and the importance of data interoperability.
Supply chain visibility has gone “mainstream,” Obayomi says. Companies have had tracking capability for years, albeit with gaps in their view of shipments enroute to destination. Today, the demand is for real-time visibility throughout the journey — not just of the location of goods at any given moment, but also their condition, in the case of temperature-sensitive items.
The customer experience is becoming “critical to survival,” he says. The relationship between retailers and shoppers is tenuous, with the latter willing to cut all ties in the event of lost of late orders. “Logistics, at the end of the day, is a service business,” Obayomi says. Digital technology makes it possible for customers to receive constant updates on the status of their orders. “Digital-first” merchandisers are changing the nature of the game, and traditional players are being forced to match their capabilities.
Risk management is at the top of corporate agendas these days. “It’s a prerequisite for resilience,” Obayomi says. Tough lessons were learned during the pandemic about the consequences of sudden factory shutdowns or logistics failures. Supply chains today need to know, not just the state of their manufacturers, but whether raw materials are flowing smoothly to the plant.
For many years, businesses have sought to eliminate waste from their supply chains. The problem is especially acute in logistics, with too many trucks running without loads. “Companies need to figure out ways to optimize their routes so they no longer have empty trucks,” Obayomi says.
Finally, there’s a pressing need today for data interoperability. Shippers and their service providers might have multiple information systems for various modes and products. They need to link all of the applications that make up a supply chain, so that data can be easily shared among all partners.
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