The world is changing in fundamental ways, and so are supply chains. Strategies and tactics that worked in the past may not work in the future. That is why innovation is such an important part of supply chain management. Now, in the wake of one of the most disruptive supply chain events in history, companies are increasingly looking at ways to build resiliency and agility in their supply chains. This environment magnifies the need not only for innovation but digital transformation of the supply chain.
While many companies recognize the need for digital transformation of their supply chains, they may lack the required knowledge, expertise, and focus to successfully achieve a change of this magnitude. Kenco, as a supply chain solutions and services provider, sensed this market need early on and is working to lead the way in helping our customers with their transformation efforts. Here are three fundamental aspects that we view as critical for a successful supply chain digital transformation.
Begin by Analyzing Data Quality and Accessibility
Some companies begin the digital transformation process by investing in a single “super” technology. At Kenco, we encourage companies to first take a holistic view of the data that is currently coming into and out of their networks and why. Where is it coming from? How is the data being validated? Is the data actionable? It is hard to advance to some of the most impactful digital solutions, like Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning without being able to rely on the underlying quality and accuracy of data being consumed by the business.
Another common misconception is that there is a single silver bullet one-size-fits- all solution. With myriad software platforms and vendor managed portals, it can be easy to become wedded to a system that may solve some of your issues today but offers little flexibility if your supply chain priorities change.
Kenco takes an engineered approach to developing solutions with the intent of helping customers choose the best technology stack to meet their needs and accommodate future growth. We begin with the end in mind. What is the best possible outcome for our customer? Our Innovation Lab, opened in 2015, is a key enabler in our support of supply chain digital transformation. This active research test site, expanded in 2019 to include a 10,000 square foot warehouse, helps us to work with customers to select not just the latest technology, but the best solution or combination of technologies that will be most effective for their unique business needs.
Implement Process Improvements Based on Data-Driven Decisions
Supply chain digital transformation can have the greatest impact on a company’s performance when the data is used to drive insights. At Kenco, our operations model is constantly being updated based on learnings from our data and supply chain analysts.
Increasingly, customers are adopting our advanced analytics solutions. Beyond know what is happening and why, predictive analytics empowers companies to plan labor, adjust to volume spikes, and manage other disruptions before issues arise. We enable a future look at what is going to happen and proactive response versus reacting in the moment. Data is powerful – if it is accurate, interpreted correctly, and drives informed decisions and actions.
Engage People at Every Point Throughout the Digital Transformation
Technologies require a human touch, so we recommend making sure that people are an integral part of your digital transformation throughout the entire process. It is also important to view changes from the perspective of front-line associates who will be using a new technology or solution. Is the tool or software that you plan to implement user friendly? Is there a steep learning curve for new employees?
Beyond ease of use, employees or contractors also want to understand why they are being asked to adopt new processes and technology. Sharing the big picture and what your company hopes to accomplish with a digital transformation and asking for feedback and input will go a long way toward driving engagement, a critical component of success in any business.
It has often been said that difficult times often lead to creativity and new thinking. At Kenco, digitalization is a top priority that we have taken very seriously, for years, as is evidenced by our investment in technology, people, and our recent Innovation Lab expansion. If the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic is the catalyst driving more companies to go through a digital supply chain transformation, their businesses will emerge stronger and the industry will also be more resilient and prepared for any future challenges that may come our way.