Over the past few decades, there have been a number of companies that have scaled great heights only to be overtaken in a few short years by younger, more technologically enabled disruptors. The smartphone market and the decline of Nokia and Blackberry would be the prime example of such disruption. However, the companies that have adapted to the changing scenario have gone on to use their inherent domain knowledge in the new environment. Netflix which started as a DVD rental service has now achieved a global presence in the online content streaming market — a scale that would never have been possible in its earlier model.

While we do not suggest as drastic a change as Netflix, it is important to keep in mind the changing customer expectations and to be agile enough to meet them. In a time where nearly every device is a “smart” device, the number of points collecting data at all times is massive.

Over the past few decades, there have been a number of companies that have scaled great heights only to be overtaken in a few short years by younger, more technologically enabled disruptors. The smartphone market and the decline of Nokia and Blackberry would be the prime example of such disruption. However, the companies that have adapted to the changing scenario have gone on to use their inherent domain knowledge in the new environment. Netflix which started as a DVD rental service has now achieved a global presence in the online content streaming market — a scale that would never have been possible in its earlier model.

While we do not suggest as drastic a change as Netflix, it is important to keep in mind the changing customer expectations and to be agile enough to meet them. In a time where nearly every device is a “smart” device, the number of points collecting data at all times is massive.

An article published in MIT Sloan Management Review neatly lays down the 3 pillars & 9 building blocks for Digital Transformation:

Transform Customer Experience:

  1. Cater to the need for visibility at all stages of interaction
  2. Identify and map existing relationships with customers, demand spikes, lean periods that would allow customized and enhanced service levels
  3. Digitized customer touch points — Social media analytics to answer complaints, self service via Apps, increased multi-channel usage

Transform Operational Processes:

  1. Process Digitization with automation, adding new features
  2. Virtualizing individual level work — separating the work process from the location of work, such processes have become powerful enablers for knowledge sharing
  3. Performance Management data driven decision making with deeper insights into customers, products, regions etc.
  4. Allow operations managers to solve problems in real time rather than always be in firefighting mode

Transform Business Models:

  1. Digitally modified businesses — augment physical with digital offerings, share content across organization. By adopting a digital approach, Indian logistics giant DTDC were able to enter the first mile online pick-up space with no addition of resources. The solution by Shipsy allowed existing field force to be better utilized allowing the company to reap benefits.
  2. Introduce New Digital Businesses — Nike introduced fitness bands to track and report customers workouts. A perfect example of how companies are adopting alternative business models and are reshaping their boundaries through digital means.
  3. Digital Globalization — use of global shared services to promote efficiency, from multi-national to global presence.With improved collaboration manufacturing companies can shift production around the globe with only a few days notice in response to excess demand.

Amazon.com rivals Wal-Mart as a store, FedEx as logistics service provider, and IBM as a data services provider. The company evolved from an online retailer to a leader in cloud infrastructure service with Amazon Web Services in large part because of a mandate set forth by its CEO Jeff Bezos.

DHL uses big data for capacity planning for trucks, trains, and aircraft as well as shift planning for personnel in distribution centers and warehouses. With the use of advanced analytics Real-time information about shipments is aggregated to predict the allocation of resources for the next 48 hours.

It is still important to realise that while there have been some breakthrough successes, adopting an analytics based approach to decision making is a time consuming process with returns not always immediately apparent. Factors such as digitization as well as the quality of data being collected play a major role. It is also essential to get the buy-in from the managers who will be using these insights day in and day out. The first step would be to use the data as a tool to supplement decision making abilities. With time, analytics engines will learn and it is then that the whole power of predictive and prescriptive analytics can be unleashed in a truly digital business

Amit Walia

Experienced professional in logistics technology space and handles sales at Shipsy for Southeast Asia. Helped companies across different sectors reduce inefficiencies in supply chains. His other interests include economics and psephology.

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