Transforming Supply Chain with SMAC and IoT

Nathan Johnson, SVP and CIO, Werner Enterprises [NASDAQ: WERN]
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Like many industries, logistics and supply chain providers deal with large volumes of data and ever-changing market demands. Technology has streamlined decision-making and driven process improvements, but velocity and demand for information is increasing exponentially as new distribution models are developed by suppliers and consumers. Cloud computing enables services and improves speed to market while fueling innovation through the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and big data solutions.

Consumers are challenging logistics organizations to become agile, and cloud computing can help address these needs. Combining the cloud computing platform with evolving software capability can have dramatic affect, but don’t overlook the impact cloud computing can have on the IT enterprise. Understanding the complexity of cloud-based architecture to address information security risks, network integration and diversification of applications cannot be taken lightly. Like any new technology, it’s not how you start but how you finish, so learn how to leverage innovation like cloud computing and optimize for the long term.

Impact of Cloud-based TMS

Cloud-based TMS solutions can help companies improve critical supply chain functions and meet urgent client needs, but the cloud-based platform is only one factor. The ability of the TMS solution to meet business needs is most critical. For companies looking to upgrade capabilities or enter new markets, a cloud-based SAAS can provide speed, flexibility and functionality; however, it can be difficult to innovate and differentiate from other companies running the same solutions. In supply chain and logistics, technology has become a core element of every business process and leveraging technology for strategic advantage can take many shapes and forms. Make sure your strategies leverage IT to deliver and differentiate services and you’ll be on track to find solutions that improve your business.

  ​Cloud computing enables service and improves speed to market while fueling innovation through IoT, mobile and big data solutions.  

Better Operational Efficiency with IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new term to many, but the concept isn’t new to progressive logistics and supply chain providers. Many companies have been leveraging IoT technologies for more than 20 years, managing assets and collecting critical information that drive operational efficiency and meet growing customer needs. What is new about IoT is the excitement around the capabilities, a broader recognition of the importance of these tools and the near-term potential. IoT investment will drive transformational innovation with an unprecedented effect on safety, environmental and operational efficiencies. We’re already seeing an impact across the global supply chain. Leveraging IoT to manage assets, cargo and process will improve accuracy, safety and efficiency that enable ‘supply chain visibility’ at a new, exciting level.

Fast-track Improvements with Analytics

Big data and analytics have enormous impact, potential and promise, but remember these efforts are as much about discipline and data quality as they are tools and star-schemas. Getting poor data into a great analytic does little to improve your business, but incorporating the latest technologies to improve the quality, availability and integrity of data can have astonishing impacts.

Establish a framework that empowers users and rewards innovation, yet maintains a focus on data to ensure quality is embedded in your efforts. Work in an agile framework with heavy prototyping to build momentum while developing data quality analytics that raise visibility and understanding across the organization. These efforts can fast-track improvements in data management that will un-lease the power of big data and maximize your enterprise analytics efforts.

Role of CIOs

It’s never been more challenging and rewarding to be a CIO. Technology is core to all areas of business, and CIO’s have the unfettered opportunity to broaden their influence by strengthening relationships with business partners to establish strategies and plans that will empower the organization. As the business leader for technology, CIO’s need to lead the internal sales, marketing, finance and operational aspects of their IT organization while embracing innovation and ensuring the integrity, availability and security of corporate information. CIO’s must approach these challenges as leaders while managing IT like a business, aligning priorities to business strategies and customer needs. What a great opportunity we have and a bright future ahead.

The pace of change and impact technology has on the logistics and supply chain industry is exciting and unrelenting. Developing talent that embraces change and recognizes the importance of learning something new every day is critical to success in this fast-paced environment. While technology is core to what we do, promoting a culture that is open minded, passionate and dedicated to empowering the organization and embraces change is key to driving innovation.

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