Niyati Kohler, SVP of strategy and operations, Blume Global

Niyati Kohler is senior vice president of strategy and operations for Blume Global. Her duties also include running the CEO office. Starting her career in supply chain visibility, Kohler worked with leading enterprise software companies like Xerox and Infosys for more than a decade. At Blume Global, she works closely with the CEO to define overall strategy, overseeing execution of strategic initiatives.

 

Logistics infrastructure is a focus of the central Indian government this year. Turning that focus into a reality, and making the country’s supply chain industry competitive, depends on investment in supply chain technology.

Focusing on the supply chain will certainly help the economy in a country where logistics costs account for 14 per cent of GDP. (The global average is about 8 per cent.) But it’s not just about reducing costs; logistics technology and digitization, which also requires a concurrent push for physical infrastructure, will help India get on a level playing field with China and other countries that have more developed processes. Remaking and streamlining the Indian supply chain, and heavily investing in supply chain technology, really is the first step to making India an attractive location for more business investment.

This technology upgrade starts with shippers who should embrace supply chain digitization in the form of shipment visibility solutions to create cost-effective and resilient supply chain processes. But the benefits go beyond the individual. Shippers that realize efficiencies by engaging with supply chain technology help the entire supply chain function at a higher level. So how do they begin? Engaging with a supply chain technology provider, one that offers both supply chain visibility and orchestration technology is the first step. These providers know that congestion ebbs and flow in any market, but creating new opportunities for shippers with innovative visibility solutions will make it easier for them to predict and spot these changes in the market, allowing them to act accordingly before potential pain points become major issues.

Remember, though, that not all supply chain technology companies are created equal. Traditional shipment visibility focused solely on freight transportation does not equip manufacturers for the new supply chain status quo. To get a holistic view of the supply chain, technology providers must be able to truly offer end-to-end supply chain orchestration solutions, covering the entire value cycle from sourcing and manufacturing to last-mile delivery. While the average shopper might not need all that digitization, selecting a provider that offers a wide range of solutions, coupled with innovative plans for the future of the supply chain, means that Indian customers can continue to grow with the provider, finding new solutions to meet their evolving business needs. Customers also benefit from the rich supply chain expertise these companies provide. Finding a provider that has a rich history in the industry, and expertise in intermodal shipping will pay dividends for years to come.

The supply chain technology provider field is a crowded one. Many are based in the U.S. and have slowly expanded to an international audience, and others have taken the reverse route, setting up shop in Asia and Europe, then focusing on the U.S. I mention this because shippers and other Indian supply chain companies have a wealth of choices, but that can also welcome a wealth of challenges. For companies to stay ahead of the changing supply chain world, they should embrace a holistic supply chain platform that seamlessly operates across regions and modes. The most flexible of these solutions are cloud-based and global in scope, meaning that wherever you are, you’ll have your entire supply chain at your fingertips. The best-integrated transportation platforms can handle any transportation need at any time by not just providing shipment and order-level visibility but seamlessly offering actions to overcome temporary supply chain chokepoints.

Buyers should also make sure their provider has a commitment to innovation, which can be measured by the percentage of research and development employees at the company. When shippers interview potential supply chain technology providers, they should also ask about their digitization plans for the future. Your technology partner must have a plan for digitizing all stakeholders in the supply chain, no matter how small. In a constrained marketplace, capacity might only be found with these smaller providers, so it’s important that your company has access to an expansive, global network. It’s also crucial to figure out where these supply chain providers get their information. Are they the one source of truth for supply chain data, or are they feeding their shippers a copy of the information they collected? Working with a company that is a data creator with deep connections to carriers instead of an information aggregator is of the utmost importance.

For the provider itself, any solid supply chain digitization strategy in India must also involve the many carriers and drivers that are the lifeblood of the Indian supply chain. Smaller carriers will continue to play a significant role in providing cost-effective capacity, especially when capacity is highly constrained. To really see the systemic changes that need to occur in the global supply chain to prevent, or at least anticipate the next seismic disruption, it is important to foster collaboration among all parties in the supply chain.

Supply chain digitization can help with the push for sustainability and green, environmentally friendly processes. India is an integral part of our worldwide sustainability effort simply because of its size and the realities of its domestic supply chain. The right supply chain solutions can enable customers to track supply chain sustainability metrics during the manufacturing and freight transportation process. This capability allows customers to take an active role in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is a final suggestion: Be wary of supply chain digitization companies that are bringing solutions to supply chain and freight transportation customers that are not needed. Stay away from the latest sparkly object. Look instead for a company with a strategy of understanding the pain points shippers are confronting and will show them all the ways digitization can help them develop robust, resilient supply chains.

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