As the CEO of NebulARC, Alok Sharma drives the vision, strategy and growth of the company. He is a dynamic leader with over 25 years of extensive experience in leading Pre-Sales, Sales and Technology teams across Europe, APAC, and India. He is an exuberant thinker who is proficient in business strategies and planning. With NebulARC, he has committed himself to bringing real-time supply chain visibility and asset monitoring excellence in the market.
The impact of COVID-19 is being felt upon our day to day lives and businesses across the world. Since different regions are disconnected or discreetly connected for transport, there is immense unpredictability or radical changes in terms of supply chain management. This makes the businesses concerned about being able to meet their contractual obligations on time. The current situation highlights the important yet missing dots in the existing supply chains including the lack of real-time tracking, visibility, traceability, transparency, and lack of diversification- vulnerabilities.
To address these challenges, the first step is to move away from traditional approaches to supply chain management and embrace digitization. There are several (read: almost all) functions of the supply chain that have ample scope for transformation through digitization. Be it creating cost sheets, vendor management, building supply chain disruption and backup scenarios, tracking of shipments and last-mile delivery, quality testing and pilferage control, etc., there is substantial proof of how digitization can bring a positive change to the supply chain. This change is not only important for current but also for post-COVID-19 times.
How digitization benefits supply chain
- Enhanced efficiency– Digitization helps in automation of critical yet iterative functions of supply chain management such as refill orders, invoice generation, and follow-ups, maintaining vendor/client database, and so on. This helps in reallocating key resources to manage other aspects of the supply chain. As a result, efficiency grows manifold.
- Effective tracking- Technologies such as geo-fencing, geo-tagging, smart sensors, etc. play a key role in providing real-time tracking for in-transit shipments. This brings tremendous predictability throughout the chain as customers stay on top of the delivery schedule and plan their operations accordingly.
- Deeper collaboration- With the proliferation of connected devices, manufacturers can keep a tab of their entire supply chain in real-time, in collaboration with vendors and distributors. This collaboration also helps in understanding the key concerns throughout the chain and addressing them for further improvement.
- Predictive analysis for improved decision making- Digitization helps businesses generate, collate, and assess data from multiple points to understand how further improvements can be brought to the supply chain. The insights from this exercise will help in creating adaptable business processes that provide flexibility to handle varied demand situations and optimize the operational cost.
However, each business needs to identify its own specific areas that need digitization on a priority basis. Once this identification is done, it is easy to put an extensive digitization strategy in place and roll out the change.
Can there be some roadblocks towards the digitization of the supply chain?
The start of digitizing the supply chain could have some upfront cost and time requirement. However, the mid-to-long term rewards make it worthy. Whilst finding the correct technologies and strategies is crucial to success, it is even more important to find the right team that can implement a crucial change seamlessly. The shift revolutionizes from the ground up. So, the employees need to be prepared for and on-board with a radical culture shift.
Another important concern in the hyper-digitized world is cybersecurity. Taking action to protect the business and network from cyber threats should be an important priority when looking to innovate and introduce new technologies.
The road ahead
While the world will take some time to recover from the aftermath of COVID-19, few things will change forever (and for good). The phenomenon of supply chain digitization is one such thing. We can expect more businesses to understand the importance of creating an agile supply chain and operate with a lean approach in order to achieve sustained success. While we have already seen some positive momentum in this direction, as more businesses opt for a digitized supply chain, there will be ripple effects all around the world.
More About Alok Sharma
Alok believes that delivering a remarkable customer experience is key to achieving success. He, thus, drives the culture of customer-centricity across the organization which has led the team to deliver exceptional results. Prior to co-founding NebulARC, Alok worked across diverse industries in the global market and performed key roles in prestigious companies like Megasoft Consultants Ltd, Polaris Software Lab, Steria, IBS Software Services, Indus Towers Limited, and TEOCO. Alok holds a Master’s Degree in Technology from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani.