New Age Supply Chains: Pulled By Technology, Pushed By Women!

KS: I think digitization has impacted almost all the industries in different ways. But the fundamentals of any industry are basically the same – every industry/business always focuses on a very high KPI. So, the similarities across all the industries in terms of adapting digitization is, first, improved efficiency. If you are implementing and investing in emerging technology, the first step you have to streamline your processes. Then you have to reduce all the manual work – minimize all the human errors.

Secondly, if I go back 10 years, visibility was the biggest challenge. So, visibility is the second thing which digitization isreally improving. Monitoring the KPIs which is really impacting efficiency in business and creating transparency throughout the value chain so they can make informed decisions.

I think the third is in terms of performance – it could be people performance, product performance, process performance, or the overall organization performance. By leveraging analytics and predictive model, companies can build a kind of platform where they can improve their performance every day.

During my experience, I have seen this working in consulting, automotive, now in FMCG.

If we compare the FMCG industry and the automotive industry, in FMCG the life of the product is very short. But if you talk about the automotive industry, they produce highly durable products and they are investing a lot in design and technology.

You have to take care of these things when you’re going for any kind of digital transformation. Industry-specific challenges are entirely different because they, they work on different targets.

The second difference is technology maturity. Some of the industries are pioneering, they are already advanced in adopting digital technologies. But if you talk about other industries which are much fragmented, they don’t even have a basic infrastructure to place any IoT. Sometimes they don’t have data available because they are working with third-party.

The third is the complexity of the supply chain. In the automotive sector, we have one product and many variants and derivatives of it. But, if we go to FMCG, the variety of SKUs is little different. The complexity also decides what kind of digital solution we have to use and implement and how we can get a ROI out of it.

Lastly, consumer expectation is a differentiating factor that plays a significant role in driving digitization initiatives.

KS: This is rightly pointed out because you have to be very agile and flexible. After all, one solution will not work on one other value stream. One plant may be producing 10 different products with 5 lines. But we need to have a customized solution because the kind of product, the shape of the product, and the demand of the product are entirely different. Our customer is looking for a different packaging. The requirement is so diverse that we cannot apply the same solution.

KS: I think sustainability should be the heart of each strategy any organization is working on. The consumer goods industry is rapidly changing and the demand for different products is diverse. CGs businesses are personalizing their product based on demand and market trends.

For example, Costa Coffee. They have come up with this solution where if a regular customer is visiting the outlet, they don’t need to tell somebody their order. There is a kiosk available that asks if they would like to go for their regular coffee. And, it is already being implemented.

This makes the customer happy that the machine (and the brand) knows what he/she is looking for, making that brand very special to the consumer. That also opens the gate of sustainability because the customer doesn’t need to stand in the queue (time sustainability) or get paper bills (planet sustainability).

Businesses are gathering real-time data for consumer preferences, their purchasing behavior, and market trends. And then they are leveraging that data and using the AI models. Eventually, they improve and optimize their product based on the demand.

If I combine digitization with the sustainability side, it plays a very crucial role in enabling the circular economy initiative. It improves tracking and traceability because if you start from plan to return, you have all the data available. By using digitization you can improve the overall circular sustainability with reusability, recycling, and repurposing of the material.

This is an abridged version of the interview published in the June issue of Logistics Insider magazine. To read the full interview, click here.

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