This Week in Logistics News (June 8-12, 2015)

I was at the GT Nexus Bridges 2015 conference earlier this week. Great learning and networking at the event (stay tuned for my takeaways in a future post). As I was leaving, I noticed this at the hotel and had to take a photo:


How long until the last one disappears? What would a poet say about this photo? Post your thoughts below.

In the meantime, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

There are many aspects to cloud computing that make it exciting, including the fact that it is providing companies with almost infinite computing power at a relatively low cost. What this means from a supply chain and logistics perspective is that companies are able to analyze larger sets of data and solve more complex problems much faster than before (see A Case Study in Closed-Loop Operational Management).

That is part of the value proposition behind JDA Software’s announcement this week that it is collaborating with Google “to deliver JDA’s next generation cloud-based omni-channel and supply chain solutions via Google Cloud Platform…Through this collaboration, Google will provide a uniquely scalable and flexible technology platform via the cloud to support JDA’s future application development and delivery.”

You can read the press release for more details, but John Sarvari, Group Vice President of Technology at JDA Software Group, provides a great example of the power of cloud computing in a post published in the Google Cloud Platform Blog (emphasis mine):

A Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution like Google App Engine removes the constraints of on-premise technology. For example, we provide a solution to forecast sales for both manufacturers and retailers so they can purchase, produce and sell more products more efficiently. Forecasting demands that we process hundreds of millions of pieces of data. Google Cloud Platform provides the technology that allows us to integrate additional data, like social media, weather, and IoT information (such as sensors that report agricultural conditions) to increase forecast accuracy to ensure the right product is available to serve the needs of our customers—  and their customers—  at the optimal time.

It’s exciting to see how quickly we can respond to our customers’ needs using Google Cloud Platform. Using a small Google Cloud Dataflow configuration, we were able to generate replenishment orders in real-time for over 50,000 point-of-sale transactions per minute. In the past, this would have required more hardware and would be processed using overnight batch jobs. Using Google Cloud Dataflow, we can scale to incredible volumes and process information in real-time with ease.

Simply put, cloud computing is lifting some of the technological limitations that prevented companies from performing more sophisticated and complex analysis of their supply chain operations. As is always the case, however, technology is a few steps ahead of what most companies are ready or willing to embrace. In other words, for companies to fully reap the benefits, they will also have to transform their processes and ways of working — that is, they will have to overcome the classic “change management” hurdle.

In other technology news, Roadnet Technologies announced the launch of Roadnet® Transportation Suite 3.7.1, the new version of its vehicle routing, scheduling, tracking, mobile workforce and fleet management software. According to the press release, this latest version “features new functionality that enables fleets to easily see which drivers and vehicles are available for route assignments, and which regions are in danger of exceeding the number of assigned routes for Roadnet and Territory Planner. It also allows standard and preferred routes to begin the day before the assigned delivery date, which is ideal for longer trips.”

Better integration between Roadnet’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, Roadnet Anywhere, and its on-premise solution is another enhancement. According to Cyndi Brandt, senior director of product marketing and alliances for Roadnet, “We continue to recognize the market adoption of SaaS as a delivery platform and are ensuring that our investments in Roadnet Anywhere can be leveraged by our on-premise customers.”

With all the buzz and hype surrounding robots these days (see Amazon Tests Robots for Warehouse Item Picking), it’s easy to overlook the real need and demand companies have to maximize the productivity of their distribution center labor force. enVista’s announcement this week brings it into focus. The company announced that its Workforce Management practice achieved more than $1.2 million in sales in May, a record for the practice, and that it completed the unit’s 100th labor management project site and signed several new clients. Since 2012, enVista has achieved 200 percent year-over-year growth in its workforce management practice. According to Tom Stretar, senior director and workforce management practice leader at enVista:

“Executives are increasingly recognizing the value of workforce management to improve execution and as a means to support omni-channel growth and ongoing cost reduction efforts. Workforce management programs support all of these initiatives, providing a strong basis of differentiation and competitive advantage.”

On June 23, Tom Kozenski, VP Solution Strategy at JDA Software, and I will discuss Workforce Management in an upcoming Talking Logistics episode: “Are Your Labor Management Capabilities Aligned With Your Omni-Channel Strategy?” Sign up and join the conversation!

Finally, at its conference this week, GT Nexus and trade finance solutions provider SeaburyTFX announced “a new funding program that leverages big data on the GT Nexus platform to deliver suppliers access to low cost capital.” According to the press release:

The program opens the flow of capital into the supply chain to reduce costs and risk by basing funding decisions on the trading partners’ performance history, instead of the buyer’s or supplier’s credit.”

“The high performance rate of the overall GT Nexus network of transactions makes it an attractive portfolio for securitization in the financial markets,” said Robert Lin, President and CEO of SeaburyTFX. “Unlike traditional programs working with individual banks or providers on a transactional basis, funding of this program is secured by a pool of transactions on the platform. The transparency, standardization, comprehensiveness and reliability of GT Nexus’ big data are critical to ensuring liquidity, and thus enabling healthier and more efficient supply chain finance.”

For more on the link between the physical and financial supply chain, check out one of our most popular posts this year: What If the VP of Supply Chain, Treasurer, and CFO Worked Together? The Benefits of Linking the Physical and Financial Supply Chains.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Easy Money” by Johnny Marr

Note: enVista, GT Nexus, and JDA Software are Talking Logistics sponsors.