The time to capitalize on cloud technology has arrived. It is a breakthrough technology that is ready for application in logistics in 2022.
Today’s volatile and uncertain marketplace underscores the need for cloud technology. Navigating today’s challenges calls for speed, accuracy, agility, and resilience. Cloud technology can help you achieve all these and contain costs. That’s important given today’s spiraling inflation. In a word, cloud technology helps to future-proof your supply chain.
To see how cloud technology can help, let’s look at how you can extend and/or expand your capabilities. Looking at broad categories, cloud technology enhances supply chain business processes.
Examples include global trade management, labor management, procurement, transportation management, warehouse management, and yard management.
Besides enhancing or improving logistics business processes, cloud technology increases data security and flexibility of access.
To gain insight into cloud technology’s benefits, here are five capabilities available now.
Benefits of Cloud Technology in Logistics
Cloud technology comes with many benefits that make adoption a simple decision. That’s not to say there aren’t any obstacles to overcome. Before getting into that, let’s look at some of the compelling reasons to adopt cloud technology.
- Real-time visibility—Cloud technology gives you real-time ability to track shipments in transit. That gives you the ability to respond to issues as they arise. You become proactive instead of reactive. You’ll be one step ahead, so you can avoid or mitigate the effects of delays. That helps you keep costs down while ensuring the greatest customer support.
- Real-time Inventory Management — Real-time visibility of on-hand stocks can improve your stockage posture. And it helps in tracking changing demand patterns and adjusting safety stocks. Real-time inventory visibility also enables you to make accurate data-based decisions. You won’t have to rely on assumptions, estimates, or last month’s inventory data.
- Supply Chain Optimization—Cloud technology offers both size and processing power. That means you can analyze large data sets without worrying about the size of the data sets. Also, you won’t have to worry about exceeding the limits of your processing power. That’s important when employing simulation modeling. Cloud technology makes performance analysis fast and easy.
- Improved Data/Information Sharing—Sharing data and information is huge with many benefits. Storing data in the cloud allows you to increase the sharing of that data/information. You can share it with anyone who needs to use that data/information. That includes your internal staff, vendors, and customers. Data-sharing enables decision-making at the lowest level possible. And it frees up senior leaders to focus decision-making on strategic matters. Your cloud solution provides a one-stop-shop for everyone’s data needs. And it provides the latest version of all your data, making it a single, authoritative source. Beyond increased shareability, data is available 24 x 7. And that’s irrespective of location or platform. You can share data with accessibility on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Hybrid Solutions—One of the more recent solutions IT vendors offer is a hybrid solution. This option stores data on-site and off-site. Public data storage may work well for data that is not regulated by the government or industry. Meanwhile, private data storage may still be necessary. Some data may be too sensitive to host off-site. Or you may not be comfortable storing it where you can’t control it yourself. Whether you choose a hybrid solution depends on your specific requirements.
- High-Grade Cybersecurity Protection—Hybrid solutions offer current, top-tier cybersecurity capabilities. Given today’s threat environment, everyone must focus on ensuring continuity of operations. Cyber security is in flux and fast-changing. As you select a solution, ensure you align cyber capabilities with your company’s needs. No business can afford a cyber security breach.
Now let’s look at some obstacles in adopting cloud computing for logistics.
Barriers to Adoption of Cloud Technology in Logistics
As with any technology solution, you must contend with a bevy of obstacles. Examples are time to implement, change management, time to train, availability of qualified personnel, and costs.
These barriers are not insignificant. That said, all are surmountable with proper planning.
In considering a cloud solution, you should assess how fast you can stand up a solution. Solving this issue lies in rolling out new capabilities in phases. Doing so helps ensure your team knows and understands how to work with a new capability. It also ensures you can work out any flaws before rolling out the next capability.
Resistance to change is neither new nor confined to one industry or one company. Unfortunately, it is a part of our fabric. Knowing that it is important to develop an effective change management program. Your company leaders must support it and roll it out early. Success lies with the level of support a company’s leadership provides.
Functional training is another key to a successful implementation. Yet it is often overlooked. Some training may be more technical, requiring more time. As with change management training, you must allow for ample lead time to train your staff. They must achieve a certain level of skill that lies between familiarity and mastery.
Today, there’s a premium on the retention of employees. That places a premium on revitalizing internal and external training programs. Recently, companies lost employees because of the pandemic. Many still have not returned to work. Some retired, some took on other work, and some dropped out to pursue other interests.
Whatever the case, employees are scarce. Qualified employees are even scarcer. By taking a proactive and holistic approach, you can ensure you have the workers you need.
The last criterion to consider in adopting a cloud solution is cost. Expenses and the bottom line are always important, if not critical, considerations. It’s easy to get caught up buying the latest IT solution on the market. So, you must be judicious in your spending.
To spend wisely, you should have already done an analysis of your needs vs. your wants. Cost out both and then determine what makes sense for your business.
Your focus should be on the “capabilities” you need. Here are some questions to consider.
- Do you need optimized transportation management?
- Do you need more robust analytical capabilities?
- Do you need streamlined business processes?
- Do you need better warehouse management?
Regardless, look at your prospective purchase from a strategic standpoint. How will an automated solution help you achieve your goals?
That brings us to which IT providers you should investigate.
Cloud Technology Providers
There is no shortage of cloud technology providers. All 100 IT vendors listed in the April 2021 issue of Inbound Logistics offer cloud technology solutions. This list is extensive, making it a great place to start your search for IT vendors if you don’t have one already.
Threat Stack recommends keeping some basic criteria in mind as you search for a provider. They are cloud security; cloud compliance; architecture; manageability; service levels; support; and costs.
Meeting the Challenges Sparked by the Pandemic and Future-proofing Your Supply Chain
Cloud computing enhances coordination and collaboration. It improves the security of data while increasing and expanding data sharing. It also enhances flexibility with fast and easy access across a variety of platforms. And it provides a new level of agility and resilience need to operate in the New Normal.
In short, cloud computing contributes to your competitive advantage.
At American Global Logistics, we can help you future-proof your supply chain. We’ll work with you to help you achieve your goals. We can help you in navigating today’s challenges.
We regard technology, like cloud technology, as crucial to compete in today’s markets. We understand the value of technology in logistics.
Contact us to find out more about how we can work together to future-proof your supply chain.