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Category Archives: Manufacturing

Utilizing Logistics Technology to Manage & Exceed Customer Expectations

We started our seven blog series on Logistics, Tech in Logistics, beginning with a blog on Managing the Dynamic Environment.

This blog is the second in the series (see below) and covers another important aspect in the logistics space.

With most logistic influencers clamoring for attention – from globalization to competitive markets – one unlikely contender suddenly rose to prominence as being one of the most significant performance indicators and a key differentiator of every logistics provider.

This interesting influencer is the customer!

The position of end customer and customer-centric organizations has been steadily rising in the list of top 10 priorities for every logistics provider.

Managing customer expectations and nurturing lasting relationships with their customer base is fast becoming a core focus of this landscape ensuring a distinct competitive advantage.

Interestingly, with the customer rising in prominence, the complexities of the relationship are also becoming exceedingly complex and demanding.

Customers have smartly realized their power, as is evident from their ever-increasing expectations and demands from the logistics ecosystem. What are these demands?

Let’s take a look.

The Ever-Growing List of Customer Expectations

Transparency and visibility across the ecosystem: The ability to track consignments from the placement of the order right up to delivery in real time is a common request. Track-and-trace involves having real-time information at your fingertips of the current status of consignments to the immediate intimation of unanticipated delays.

Time is money: This phrase has incredible relevance in the logistics ecosystem, with timeliness becoming a primary indicator of Perfect Order and a strong logistic differentiator. Logistics service providers are hence looking for solutions that will help them work in a time-bound manner.

Seamless, end-to-end process: The expectation of a smooth process from order to delivery and invoicing has become the norm. Customers comprehend the complexities of the landscape, yet expect the provider to manage these intricacies in the background. The emphasis on seamless logistics is hence challenging the entire network.

Managing disruptions in real time: Customers expect a foolproof plan with zero deviation in implementation, but in reality, logistics providers have to constantly battle to stay on plan. The possibility of things going wrong is quite high – from poor weather and vehicle breakdown to poor road conditions and change in route plan. Handling such sudden disruptions is one of the toughest challenges of the landscape.

On-the-go: Mobility-first approaches across verticals have placed a lot of importance on anytime anywhere access. From access to information to carrying out simple to complex tasks seamlessly across multiple channels – from mobiles to desktops – has highlighted hurdles in terms of efficient integration, version control, and other challenges.

Logistics companies are hence forced to look at options that will help them deliver a top-notch performance and unmatched customer experience, without compromising on cost.

 

The Magic of Technology

Yes, the customer wish list is long, but with the magic lamp of technology at their service, logistics providers are effectively meeting most the customer expectations.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Mobile-first access to the logistics network: Comprehensive mobile strategies go a long way in enabling a transparent logistics network and providing simple app-based interfaces to interact easily with the system for any type of information anytime from anywhere. This advantage certainly makes a huge difference in a world where ease of multi channel access and security are critical in ensuring customer satisfaction. The advent of Bots in Logistics Industry has raised the bar even higher.

Visibility and real-time track-and-trace: Knowing the exact status of their consignments in real time with minimal effort is crucial in building the customer’s confidence. If this feature includes the option to drill down extensively to dig out further information (such as projected time of arrival, consignment and transit information) through simple user interfaces, then it further cements a strong customer-provider relationship.

Robust systems to manage issues before or as they occur: An ideal system is so well oiled that there would never be any disruptions. But the reality is far from desirable. The entire route from point of origin to the very last mile has innumerable chances of unexpected delays and deviations. A technology-enabled, intuitive, and cognitive system can integrate embedded intelligence and data analytics to overcome this hurdle. This system automatically highlights possibilities of deviations and delivers data-based insights that will help the providers take well-informed decisions to overcome the disruption.

End-to-end platforms enabling a seamlessly integrated process: A smoothly flowing process that integrates not only multiple stages but also all stakeholders of the landscape is a key demand of customers. This demand can only be achieved by a process that delivers an easy process from request for quote to delivery. Such a well-orchestrated system closes all possible loopholes within the system and delivers accurate, consistent, and version-free information to every stakeholder – especially the customer.

Simplifying invoicing process: What scares most customers is not just the transit complications but also the painfully long order placement and billing process. Technology solutions such as sign-on-glass and combined invoices go a long way in generating POD with zero delays and immediately triggering the invoicing process.

Feeding the on-demand requests: It’s the fast food generation – where every aspect of living must be completed in a snap. This burden on the logistics world can be overcome by “Uberization” of the logistics landscape. Customized, on-demand sharing of transportation options are the most trending approaches logistics providers use to meet such sudden customer demands.

These indicators are a clear reflection of the power of the customer in today’s logistics landscape. The robust weapon of technology is the only solution for logistics providers to meet the ever-changing demand of the customers. But technology has a crucial buddy that simplifies all the complexities of the landscape – Data!

In our blog post “The Value of Real-Time Data Collection” we look at the importance of data – especially real-time data for the logistics network – and the options available to logistics providers to leverage data and solve the pain points of the system.

Tech in Logistics Blog Series

  1. Managing the Dynamic Environment
  2. Exceeding Customer Expectations
  3. The Value of Real-Time Data Collection
  4. Predictive Analytics for Decision Making in Logistics Management
  5. Importance of Data Enabled Visibility in Logistics
  6. Where’s Your Shipment Right Now?
  7. Automation in Logistics: Ideal or Attainable?

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Uberization of Logistics Has Arrived: Be Distinct or Extinct
In this white paper, we describe why logistics service providers need to deploy technology as a core competence and differentiator and with the use of technology how they can stay ahead of the competition; tackle Uberization and create value for their customers. Download Now!

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Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

Through the rich integration of experienced supply chain professionals, world class technology, and customer insights, C.H. Robinson is reinventing global supply chains by making them more prescriptive, automated and efficient.

Navisphere Vision continues to advance the powerful and proven capabilities of C.H. Robinson’s proprietary Navisphere technology platform.

Microsoft, an innovator in fulfillment and logistics capabilities and a customer of C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, has been using Navisphere Vision since its alpha release in 2016.

“Navisphere Vision helps us understand the things that we couldn’t before. It provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain,” said Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft.

Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft

“Navisphere Vision provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain”Alaina Hawkins,
senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft

“Navisphere Vision helps us make decisions on a more precise, real-time level so we can address any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create predictability throughout our supply chain, and increase collaboration so we can deliver our products to customers on time. It’s tremendously powerful.”

In addition to providing real-time visibility down to an SKU level, Navisphere Vision delivers insights and impacts of potential disruptions from weather, traffic or current events, as well as predictive analytics to help shippers make better, faster decisions.

This next generation of real-time supply chain visibilityenables shippers to improve customer service and cost controls through the management of inventory in motion, proactive status updates, limiting disruptions and risk mitigation.

Shippers can gain a single view of all global inventory to support working capital needs and cash to cash cycle management. Access to real-time global visibility, combined with new supply chain insights, empowers shippers with new agility, accuracy and real-time decision-making to stay a step ahead of the competition.

“The industry has seen supply chain visibility tools before, but Navisphere Vision represents the next generation,” said Jordan Kass, president of TMC.

“Not only is it global, but Navisphere Vision goes far beyond visibility and helps our customers predict supply chain disruptions before they even occur.”

“This solution provides unique benefits for our customers. Its ability to serve all global regions across any transportation mode, as well as layering in potential disruptions, provides our customers with powerful data, insights, and opportunities to make changes quickly,” said Chad Lindbloom, chief information officer at C.H. Robinson.

“Navisphere Vision utilizes API technology to aggregate all other supply chain and information sources into one single location, giving our customers the most streamlined, real-time solution available. And it brings a new level of machine-learning and data science the supply chain industry hasn’t seen to date.”

Related: C.H. Robinson Improves Contract Carriers’ Access to its Technology Platform via Mobile App

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C.H. Robinson Acquires Milgram & Company Ltd., Expands Global Forwarding Network

“Today, we are bringing one of Canada’s most respected forwarding companies into C.H. Robinson,” said John Wiehoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of C.H. Robinson.

“This acquisition continues our global expansion and marks our third Global Forwarding acquisition in the past five years.”

“We are extremely proud of the progress we have made in bringing these companies into C.H. Robinson, and Milgram & Company Ltd. (“Milgram”) provides another unique opportunity to strengthen our global forwarding and customs brokerage offerings in Canada.”

“We look forward to working with Milgram’s customers to offer our full suite of logistics services to help improve their supply chains.”

John Wiehoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of C.H. Robinson

“This acquisition continues our global expansion and marks our third Global Forwarding acquisition in the past five years”John Wiehoff, Chairman and CEO of C.H. Robinson

Milgram is a leading provider of customs brokerage and freight forwarding, in addition to providing surface transportation and warehousing services, to 3,500 active customers.

Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Milgram employs approximately 330 employees and has six offices in Canada and one office in the United States.

Milgram is a gold standard winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies®. For the fiscal year ending May 31, 2017, Milgram had approximately $155.3 million CAD (approximately $124 million USD) in gross revenues.

C.H. Robinson purchased Milgram & Company Ltd. for approximately $62 million CAD (approximately $50 million USD) in cash. The acquisition is expected to be approximately neutral to earnings in 2017 and slightly accretive in 2018 and will be financed through cash and funds drawn from C.H. Robinson’s existing revolving credit facility.

“We are excited to build on our success providing supply chain expertise and execution, refining processes, and being an integral part of our customers’ businesses,” said Jay Goldman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Milgram & Company Ltd.

“We now look forward to collaborating with C.H. Robinson to grow our presence and provide our customers with the opportunity to leverage C.H. Robinson’s worldwide network and world-class service offerings.”

C.H. Robinson’s Global Forwarding business currently serves five continents and 31 countries, with over 4,000 employees and 125 offices worldwide, and is the #1 non-vessel operator (NVO) from China to the United States. Global Forwarding customers leverage C.H. Robinson’s considerable freight volumes to access available capacity at competitive rates.

“This acquisition strengthens our ability to continue to serve the world’s shippers and help them meet their global supply chain goals,” said Mike Short, President of C.H. Robinson’s Global Forwarding division.

“Milgram has built a successful business doing things the right way, serving customers, and exceeding their expectations. We look forward to bringing their talented team to C.H. Robinson.”

C.H. Robinson will integrate Milgram into its Global Forwarding division and single global technology platform, Navisphere®.

Related SC24/7 Article: Freight Forwarders Face ‘Significant Change from New E-Business Models’

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The Supply Chain Link Both Walmart & Amazon Are Missing – The ‘Perfect Order’

Fortune reported in February that Amazon captured 53 percent of retail e-commerce growth last year to net 43 percent of U.S. online revenue.

That research finding from Slice Intelligence, further revealed a key Amazon advantage: “The average Amazon package was delivered in 3.4 days, compared with 5.6 from everyone else.”

Online competition has led to hundreds of store closures by brick-and-mortar retailers, who continue to retool everything from in-store brand experience to mobile apps and overall e-commerce strategy.

More of their stores offer custom orders, better service to customers who place orders online through their own channels and even orders placed through Amazon.

For its part, Walmart has invested heavily in North American manufacturing, and forged alliances with Facebook, Uber and Lyft to test and expand options for mobile device-based grocery ordering and delivery.

Dr. Yossi Sheffi, Director, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

“Walmart will win the rapid (same-day) delivery game and beat Amazon ”Dr. Yossi Sheffi, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

As early as 2014, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics’ Dr. Yossi Sheffi predicted that Walmart will win the rapid (same-day) delivery game and beat Amazon. One key reason: the brick-and-mortar giant’s thousands of “small warehouses – they’re called stores.”

Amazon is competing online and off. The company Amazon is operating several brick-and-mortar bookstores with more rollouts planned throughout the year.

Next up: grocery stores that eliminate check-out linesby using sensors to automatically charge shoppers as they pick products and walk out the door. Upstream in the supply chain, investments and/or plans range from warehouse robots to cargo planes and truck trailers to a 2016 patent on blimp-like Airborne Fulfillment Centers to launch drones.

The omnichannel line-blurring between traditional and online retailers will bring new technologies to the fore, but none will address problems both share in common: a lack of data visibility to more efficiently and effectively plan, produce, customize and deliver real products to real people. At present, most supply chains are lacking the critical functionality to do so.

What’s Missing? The ‘Perfect Order’
Upstream of the retailer (or e-tailer) are vast collections of brands, manufacturers, contract manufacturers/packagers, logistics firms and many more suppliers.

Leading brands long ago adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, while their suppliers have largely failed to gain usable data in the warehouse management systems (WMS) they use to produce (and customize) products, resorting to oft-cobbled spreadsheet solutions.

Evolution of Supply Chain Management Solutions

 

Both ERP and WMS systems lack the specificity to properly manage major order execution and fulfillment in the age of mass customization, which increasingly entails manufacturing and packaging outsourcing.

Leading ERP systems are based on the time-honored SCOR Model for characterizing production operations. (APICS pros know the hierarchy well: Plan, Source Make, Deliver, Return; and make-to-stock, make-to-order, etc.) One sub-discipline called “perfect order” has been on the backburner, with proponents waiting for it to become a more practical reality.

One proponent, Dave Blanchard (of IndustryWeek and Material Handling & Logistics), stressed the importance of the perfect order concept as a metric to improve order execution and fulfillment in his book on supply chain best practices. In short, the concept is based on the percentage of error-free steps throughout the life of a purchase order – right product, right condition, delivered on time and damage free, and so on.

The problem is that ERP and WMS systems lack the functional specificity to track operational data at contract packaging and related outsourced locations. Without the right technology to fill the functional gaps, it’s impossible to measure and improve in order to become “more perfect.” SCOR to ongoing work at WERC, the Warehouse Education, and Research Council, we have hope for the further advancement of the perfect order discipline.

Steve Banker, Vice President, SCM at ARC Advisory Group

“The perfect order metric is one of the most critical metrics in fulfillment ”Steve Banker, Vice President, SCM at ARC Advisory Group

As the well-known consultant, Forbes contributor and deep thinker Steve Banker wrote in Logistics Viewpoints, the perfect order metric “is one of the most critical metrics in fulfillment,” and bears close attention.

Brands and their manufacturing and packaging outsourcing partners can use the specific features in solutions such as Nulogy’s PackManager to pursue perfect order-type metrics and key performance indicators.

Rather than target too many variables, experts advise users to start with a few key metrics such as on-time-in-full delivery, correct invoice, and damage-free rates to gain a foothold on optimal execution.

In addition to internal improvements, companies can then target greater integration with partners. When deployed across the operations of multiple supply chain partners, Nulogy says the goal becomes that of achieving a Perfect Order Network™.

The goal is to achieve a unified, collaborative enterprise for last-mile product customization with reductions in waste on a global scale for service to retailers and end-consumers.

The days are long gone when “brand” is synonymous with “manufacturer,” and the technology has advanced to the point where today, it is possible to create a transparent and extended enterprise capable of unifying brands and their last-mile service providers.

Without such integration, the kind of market velocity desired by the Amazons and Walmarts of the world will be hobbled by inefficiency. But when brands and their suppliers share the same data – a single source of the truth – new opportunities emerge.

Of course, new opportunities entail new challenges, including those of giving retailers – online and off – greater data visibility.

“Some large retailers have a far more demanding view of what a perfect order is,” Banker says, adding that “a manufacturer must now collaborate with its retail partners to ensure strong in-stock performance at the retail shelf, which ultimately leads to increased revenues and profits for both parties.”

About the Author
Bob Sperber
Bob joined Nulogy following 30 years of experience as a business, industry and technology media writer and editor. His work with media outlets and marketing clients have imparted in him a solid understanding of the changes, challenges, and opportunities relevant to many sectors of the global economy.

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Last-Mile Supply Chain Mastery: Is Your ERP Really Up for the Job?
This white paper details how 3pls, contract packagers, and corrugators are transforming last-mile logistics with specialist software-as-a-service applications. Download Now!

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Is Your 3PL Ready For The 2017 Holiday Season?

It’s only August and we are already talking about turkey, vacations, and gift lists.

The holiday season is that special time of year when we all gather together with our friends and family and catch up and look forward the New Year.

However, the holidays have a tendency sneak up on many of us and before you know it, we’re ordering last minute gifts online hoping for a just-in-time delivery.

I’m sure as a 3PL warehouse, you’re no doubt aware of this scenario.

This is especially true as the holidays are a huge profit center for many warehouses.

But have you ever stopped to wonder how massive the holiday numbers are and their impact industry-wide? After considering last year’s growth, we took a look at 2016 to find out more.

So we did our due diligence and compiled the final statistics from the record-breaking Holiday Season of 2016.

These totals will amaze, inform and, we hope, further inspire you to ensure your warehouse is 100% ready for the forthcoming onslaught known as “Holiday Season 2017.”

Is your warehouse prepared to capture the Trillion-dollar e-Commerce sales this year?

After taking a look at these numbers, I think you’re going to want to get ready sooner than later.

Here are the Holiday Season 2016 final totals by the numbers:

After reading these impressive stats, we can imagine you’re thinking about how to fine-tune your warehouse logistics and prepare for a smooth operating season.

To help out, we’ve complied five tips for holiday success.

Download our latest eBook “How your 3PL Warehouse can prepare for the Holiday Rush” to explore how to get your operations in tip-top shape.

As you know, we’re all going to be very, very busy – and sooner than we think. To ensure your 3PL is 100% prepared for everything coming your way, we invite you to download our eBook today.

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The Economist ‘Imagines’ an Ideological Echo Chamber Email from Larry Page to James Damore

Created on: 15th August 2017 at 15:15 (Delivered after 1 seconds)
From: Larry Page <*********@google.com>
To: James Damore <***********@hotmail.com>
cc: <all-staff-worldwide@google.com>
Subject: Re: “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”

Dear James,

You’re probably expecting me to start by claiming that there are no differences in the average abilities, aptitudes, and interests of men and women. Or that the fact that four times as many of Google’s software engineers are men than are women is proof of discrimination. I’m not going to do that. There is good evidence for dozens of such differences between the average man and average woman. And as a matter of pure logic, you are correct that the gender gap in our team of software engineers is not of itself proof of sexism or discrimination.

I am happy to acknowledge that you state your support for gender diversity and fairness. Your memo starts: “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.”

So, you and anyone else who reads this may be wondering, why the fuss? Why did your memo go viral? Why did it cause such fury? Why did we fire you? In interviews and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, you have said it’s because Google is “ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate”, and therefore unable to tolerate your “reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument”. You’ve driven the point home with your “Goolag” T-shirt and new twitter handle, @Fired4Truth. You’re wrong. Your memo was a great example of what’s called “motivated reasoning” – seeking out only the information that supports what you already believe. It was derogatory to women in our industry and elsewhere. Despite your stated support for diversity and fairness, it demonstrated profound prejudice. Your chain of reasoning had so many missing links that it hardly mattered what you based your argument on. We try to hire people who are willing to follow where the facts lead, whatever their preconceptions. In your case, we clearly got it wrong.

Have you ever noticed that no one takes sentences that start “I’m not a racist, but…” at face value? Here’s why, in the words of Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones” (season 7, episode 1). When Sansa Stark tells him: “They respect you, they really do, but…,” Snow laughs and comes back with: “What did father use to say? Everything before the word ‘but’ is horseshit.”

I thought of that line when I read this section in your memo: “Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story. On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways…” All your comments about valuing diversity and fairness came before that giant “but”. What came after it was a description of a few gender differences, your argument that they explain why so many of our software engineers are men and your complaint that Google’s attempts to change that balance, far from being about fairness to women, amount to anti-male bias. You use the words “discriminate” or “discrimination” 17 times, exclusively to describe men as victims.

Now that we’ve worked out what your memo’s really about, let’s examine its argument. These are the main gender differences you cite: women’s on-average greater interest, compared with men, in people and lesser interest in things; their relatively greater tendency to “empathize” rather than “systematize”, and to be agreeable rather than assertive, and their relatively higher anxiety and lower tolerance for stress.

You present a diagram of two normal distributions, with the same standard deviations but slightly different means, to demonstrate that small differences in group averages produce large differences when it comes to outliers. (The Economist’s data team has kindly redrawn this for me, highlighting the “tail” of the distribution with the higher mean.) The point of this simplified model is to demonstrate that, of everyone who scores very highly on the variable under consideration, many more will be from the group with the higher average.

Then you seem to make a giant leap from group differences between men and women on such measures as interest in people rather than things or systematizing versus empathizing, to differences in men’s and women’s ability to code. At least that’s what you seem to be doing; you don’t quite say so. There is no evidence for such an inference. And that is only the first flaw in your argument. I can see at least six more, any of which would derail it on its own.

First, you ignore many other gender differences, basing your argument only on a few that you think support your conclusion. Second, you’re ignoring everything else that could explain the gender gap. Third, the gender differences you cite differ between countries and over time. Fourth, they don’t even support your argument, because you don’t seem to understand what makes a great software engineer. Fifth, you clearly don’t understand our company, and so fail to understand what we are trying to do when we hire. And sixth, even if you are right that more men than women are well-suited to the job of a software engineer at Google, you are wrong that taking steps to recruit more women is inherently unfair to men.

Your memo was a triumph of motivated reasoning: heads men win; tails women lose. Here are a few psychological differences between the sexes that you didn’t mention. Men score higher on measures of anger and lower on cooperation and self-discipline. If it had been the other way round, I’m betting you would have cited these differences as indicating a lack of suitability for the job of a coder. You lean on measures of interest and personality, rather than ability and achievement, presumably because the latter doesn’t support your hypothesis. In many countries girls now do better in pretty much every subject at school than boys – again, if it had been the other way around I’m sure you wouldn’t have neglected to mention that fact. The solely published comparison of actual competency in coding I am aware of found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted – but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was concealed.

There is plenty of evidence that women in Silicon Valley suffer harassment and discrimination. Read Susan Fowler’s description of the harassment she experienced at Uber before leaving the firm in December. Look at the responses to “Elephant in the Valley”, a recent survey of senior women in tech: among its findings was that two-thirds had been excluded from networking opportunities because of their sex. And beyond our industry, women are less likely to be given plum assignments, are given less useful feedback, are seen as pushy when they ask for pay rises (men are seen as ambitious) and, in leadership roles, may be seen as either competent or likable, but rarely both. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” you write. But we know there is sexism! We don’t need to infer it from the existence of gender gaps.

It is more than likely that some psychological differences between men and women have been baked in by evolution, as you note. We see such differences, in varying degrees, in pretty much every animal. With humans, though, you must take great care before concluding that any specific difference is innate since our societies are so much more complex and varied than those of other animals. (By the way, I find it blackly funny that some of the conservatives who have seized on you as a hero don’t believe in evolution at all.)

Here are some reasons to be doubtful about evolutionary basis for the specific differences you cite. Before the 1980s, when personal computers became more common and were almost exclusively marketed to men and boys, a much bigger share of those studying computer science at a university were girls. The share of computer scientists who are women varies wildly from country to country. Even personality differences vary from time to time and place to place – for example, men are more agreeable (the term used by psychologists for a cluster of traits such as modesty, altruism, and tender-mindedness), and less ambitious and status-seeking, in more hierarchical countries. That suggests that at least some of the gaps we see in America are because women are still relatively powerless – just as most men are in more traditional societies. Moreover, those supposedly “female” traits vanish in the rare arenas where the competition is entirely among women. Sopranos and ballerinas are hardly famous for being indifferent about who gets top billing.

I said you didn’t understand what made a great software engineer. If we were talking about weight-lifters or contortionists, it would be simple – and your stylized bell-curve diagram would be the whole story. Men are on average so much stronger, and women so much more supple, that almost all the highest performers are from one sex or the other. But few jobs are that one-dimensional. Software engineering requires a broad mix of skills involving both “people” and “things”. Teamwork, in particular, is important – the stereotypical image of the geek working alone in his basement is far from reality. Senior engineers must manage teams – and by your own reasoning that should mean that women, with their greater empathy and interest in people, should be over-represented at that level, compared with their numbers in more junior jobs. That they are not should have given you pause.

Many of the problems in our industry are caused by the sorts of misconceptions about the work that you clearly hold. Failures of teamwork and product testing are part of the reason so many new releases are glitchy, and so many projects run over time and over budget. I can even point you to ways that products fail because too few women have been involved in their development. When Google Plus was launched users had to state their gender to sign up. The intention was to make it easier to send notifications such as “She shared a photo with you.” Presumably, it didn’t occur to anyone involved in development – all of them men – that many women choose to conceal their sex online to cut down on harassment. Such failures matter far beyond our industry because tech increasingly reaches into every aspect of modern life. I don’t want Google to be part of building a virtual world that is a bad fit for a large part of humanity, as office designers, carmakers and pharmaceutical companies already did in the offline world. (Did you know that car seats and office desks are the wrong proportions for most women, or that many drugs in widespread use were only ever tested on men?)

Finally, let’s look at your contention that by trying to recruit more women Google is discriminating against men. You seem to think that if we stopped paying any attention to applicants’ gender when deciding who to hire, we would naturally converge on the “right” share of men and women, that is, the share that matches the distribution of talent in the recruitment pool. I don’t believe that. Some women will be put off applying by the heavily male culture; those doing the hiring will be influenced in their assessment of ability by the stereotypes they’ve formed in it. We should “treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group,” you write. That is what we are doing! We’re trying to hire the best, aware that there are forces militating against us.

When you first wondered why so few of our software engineers were women, and why we’re trying to hire more and whether that was fair, there were plenty of smart things you could have done. You could have asked some of your female colleagues about their experiences in the industry. You could have looked for evidence that conflicted with your biases (there’s a good search engine you could have used). Here’s a brief reading list for you. At Heterodox Academy, Sean Stevens and Jonathan Haidt have compiled a pretty comprehensive list of psychological differences between the sexes – there are plenty, not all point the same way and there are many caveats. J. Doe, on Medium, has summarized the evidence that women are treated worse in the tech workplace than men. Suzanne Sadedin, an evolutionary biologist, debunks your pop evo-psych on Quora. Yonatan Zunger, a former senior engineer at Google, discusses your misconceptions about our industry on Medium. Claire Cain Miller talks about the damaging myth of the loner genius nerd in the New York Times. In Vox, Cynthia Lee “ladysplains” your errors from the viewpoint of a woman coder.

I shouldn’t have had to write this: I’m busy and a little effort on your part would have made it unnecessary. But I know I have it easy. Women in our industry have to cope with this sort of nonsense all the time.

Yours,
Larry

Source: The Economist

Related Article: Google’s Pioneering Approach to Supplier Diversity

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The Supply Chain Digital Age Requires New Restructuring Initiatives

The digital age is upon us – and how organizations manage the transition to leveraging data more holistically will decide supply chain success and defeat.

In fact, the only thing that will be constant is change.

A recent white paper from market research firm IDC, titled White Paper Digital Transformation Drives Supply Chain Restructuring Imperative, explained:

There’s every reason to believe that this pace of change will accelerate and that the supply chain of the future will be in a constant state of flux. Companies that can build supply chain flexibility more quickly will be better positioned to support their consumers/customers and thus grow their business more effectively.

In its white paper, IDC identified five stages of maturity for the digital supply chain as follows:

  • Ad hoc. This stage is characterized by poorly defined goals that sometimes lead to chaos. Movement and change come from individuals, and the positive results are often siloed within the organization. Business goals and IT digital initiatives are not effectively paired for best results and the needs/wants of the customer are neglected.
  • Opportunistic. In this stage, the company has captured basic capabilities, and there are processes in place to achieve repeatability on an ongoing basis. However, these organizations are not leaders but instead lag in efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy and execute across the entire organization. Progress tends to be unpredictable.
  • Repeatable. The organization has clearly aligned business and IT goals for the near term at the enterprise level. “Digital initiatives for product or service delivery and customer experiences but are not yet focused on their disruptive potential,” the report said. At this stage, the organization has documented, standardized, and integrated capabilities at the business level. These organizations tend to be on par with competitors.
  • Managed. An agile management vision combined with embedded digital transformation capabilities are tightly linked at this stage. These business leaders deliver integrated and synergistic business-IT disciplines in order to continuously deliver digitally enabled products and services.
  • Optimized. At the most mature level, organizations are affecting markets by using new digital technologies and business markets. A continuous feedback loop has been created to ensure improvement and innovation. Leaders in these organizations encourage risk taking and experimentation in pursuit of innovation.

The infographic below offers more details of the Digital Transformation in the Supply Chain Survey, which was sponsored by OpenText. IDC conducted its study, in the fourth quarter of 2016.

It polled 254 respondents from manufacturing, retail, and consumer products across three company size ranges in seven countries.

Where is your organization in terms of embracing digital transformation? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Addressing 3 Critical Challenges Affecting Logistics Performance Management

In the supply chain industry, logistics services providers face many factors beyond their control.

From the availability of raw materials to energy and fuel costs, to regulatory shifts and changing consumer demands, logistics professionals play an integral role in meeting these challenges head on – all while attempting to maintain a competitive edge in the business.

These forces churning behind the modern supply chain are the reason logistics performance (LPM) management is more important now than ever before.

Yet, many logistics organizations fail to realize the productivity and service potential that comes with monitoring performance, even when research shows that doing so offers a foremost competitive differentiator.

With the advent of logistics technology, logistics leaders can easily gain insight into all areas of their business – and make the changes necessary to improve its effectiveness.

But to do so, it’s important for logistics professionals to fully understand the process of performance management and why it’s so vital to the logistics chain.

What Is Logistics Performance Management?
At its root, “Logistics is about getting the right product, to the right customer, in the right quantity, in the right condition, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right costs,” otherwise known as the Seven R’s of Logistics, as coined by John J. Coyle.

Logistics performance management (LPM) is regular monitoring of every aspect of the logistics chain.

This process includes collecting data surrounding all logistical activities including inbound and outbound transportationfleet managementwarehousinginventory managementmaterials handlingorder fulfillmentsupply and demand planning3PL managementlogistics network design and other support services – essentially anything that has an impact on cost or performance.

Logistics professionals use logistics management as a way to identify and correct inefficiencies to improve business performance.

By defining performance variables, identifying metrics and using clean, accurate data to leverage insight, logistics professionals can ensure they are on track to meet or exceed their business performance goals.

Barriers to Effective Logistics Performance Management
In theory, logistics performance management sounds easy enough: logistics professionals simply set their goals and track their improvements along the way.

However, there are several factors that can impede a company’s progress.

In that way, it’s important for logistics leaders to be aware of these barriers, so they can take a proactive approach to LPM. A lax approach to LPM is truly a wasted opportunity.

3 Critical Factors Affecting Logistics Performance Management

1. Ineffective Strategy
Many companies set out to accomplish some lofty performance goals, only to fall short in the end when it becomes clear they were lacking one crucial component: a logistics performance strategy.

To create a logistics performance management strategy, a logistics leader must lay out the logistics performance process.

Generally speaking, LPM relies on a consistent flow of events, according to the Centre for Transport & Logistics:

  • Measures
  • Decisions
  • Actions

Once a company identifies an area of improvement, they must set a goal and a process to achieve that goal. The logistics activities a company chooses to monitor may be financial (cost and revenue), or non-financial (such as service and productivity), or both – and can also include both external and internal metrics.

For example, the percent of on-time deliveries of shipments by a carrier is an external metric. However, it relies on internal metrics such as the on-time departure of delivery trucks, the reliability of trucks, and percent of the time on the road. Let’s imagine that truck breakdowns are causing delivery delays.

Using logistics performance management, a logistics leader could:

  1. Use the data to uncover the reason behind delivery delays (truck breakdowns).
  2. Meet with his team to reduce the number of carriers across all routes.
  3. Use past and current data to consolidate shipments, resulting in fewer trips.
  4. Measure and track cost-savings following these actions.

Obviously, an effective logistics performance management plan needs an experienced decision-maker to help decipher the information the data provides, so he or she can respond with real-time actions to improve business performance – which can only come with the combination of a sophisticated logistics management platform and the collaboration of his or her team.

2. Performance Metrics Aren’t Clearly Defined
Unfortunately, your data is worthless if the right performance metrics aren’t put into place. A logistics professional must know what to measure, in order to track performance.

While there are literally countless metrics logistics professionals can turn to measure performance, and these measurements will largely depend on the goals and size of your business, some examples of logistics performance measurements include:

  • Total travel time
  • Total orders in a period
  • Total orders fulfilled
  • Number of shipments within x hours of delivery time
  • Cost of goods sold
  • Average inventory investment
  • Fixed costs (payroll, building, equipment)
  • Variable costs (fuel, utilities)
  • Overhead costs (insurance, taxes, heating, lighting)
  • Service reliability
  • Customer service complaints
  • Cost per pound
  • Total lane costs
  • Accessorial charges

It’s important to understand which performance metrics specifically reflect the state of the goal area (it may be more than one), so you can take the appropriate actions to improve. Without these measures, it will be nearly impossible to reduce operating costs, drive revenue or enhance shareholder value.

A logistics performance management platform makes data readily available and can be easily modified to align with your targeted performance metrics.

3. Lagging Logistics Technology
Technology changes on a nearly daily basis, and it can be difficult for even the most tech-savvy company to keep up. One of the biggest hurdles of performance management is having (or developing) the existing IT infrastructure required to support logistics software.

Add in the fact that the software doesn’t always integrate well enough with applications already in place, and it’s no wonder so many companies are hesitant to adopt a performance management strategy.

Not all logistics performance management applications are created equal. Some suffer from a terminal lack of customization abilities; others are incredibly flexible but offer limited reporting capabilities. The best track the root causes and effects of logistical performance across all activities, functions, and departments of any given process.

The ability to get accurate information in real-time is a necessity. When a problem is identified, logistics professionals need to know in the moment, not the next time someone looks at a report. While most performance management software offers real-time capabilities, logistics leaders need to ensure it provides a high level of accuracy and integrity, so they can trust the data they see.

A logistics management team must ensure that its software can adapt to its company’s performance metrics definitions and KPIs. It should work from the top down to deliver the best performance indicators possible and should be able to evaluate a single metric over multiple dimensions.

While it is true that developing a company’s IT capabilities to support and enhance the performance management process can be time-consuming and expensive, the return on investment in terms of increased business, higher customer satisfaction, and lower operating costs will more than make-up for it in the long run.

 

Taking the Next Step
Performance management is a critical part of the logistics business, but it’s not without its hurdles.

When logistics pros look at each stumbling block as an opportunity, it can only mean success for your company. Ready to take your business to the next level?

Read the Article: Freight Billing Goals, Challenges, and Optimization

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5 Reason Logistics Data is Your Ticket to Value
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3 Reasons to Walk Away From Your Current Supply Chain Model

July 27, 2017

We all know change is difficult, and the longer you follow a certain path, the harder it becomes to change course.

Following the traditional supply chain model feels safe and comfortable – like your favorite pair of sneakers.

But over time, those sneakers wear down and stop supporting your feet as they once did.

The Amazon effect is wreaking havoc on supply chains globally.

Consumers are buying online from everywhere in the world and expecting delivery in one to two days.

International shipping presents real challenges for suppliers and shippers attempting to keep up with the velocity expectations of these consumers.

Companies are realizing they must follow a new path – one that leads to a global trade network.

Traditional Supply Chain Logistics Model vs. Global Trade Network Model

 

When comparing a traditional supply chain model with a modern global trade network model, there are some key differences that become immediately obvious:

Cost Center vs. Strategic Asset
In the traditional supply chain model, the supply chain is viewed as a cost center. A Global Trade Network is viewed as a strategic, competitive asset.

Gone are the days of only planning and executing the shipment booking through the delivery process. Now the attention is directed to streamlining the entire order life cycle ranging from purchasing order management to import/export compliance in order to deliver the best customer experience.

Connecting Partners and Real-time Data
In the old model, stand-alone supply chains were focused on internal automation for cost-cutting and time-saving measures.

The problem is stand-alone supply chains still rely on partners that reside outside their system. When things change with their partners not only are those changes impossible to see but the effects of the change create chaos. This chaos increases the cost to serve customers and forces partners to add inventory buffers into their supply chains.

The competitive advantage achieved through a global trade network is connecting partners using real-time data and speed to ensure everyone is on the same page.

The interconnectivity removes barriers created from static linear processes and allows a supply chain to function as a dynamic living ecosystem where each action gets an immediate reaction to streamline processes. The cost to serve goes lower while customer service improves.

Actionable Intelligence
Another advantage to the global trade network model is the amount of actionable intelligence the network can provide to help make better business decisions.

It eliminates black holes and guesswork by providing real-time data on what is happening in the supply chain.

The analytics can be used to enhance optimization opportunities so companies can look beyond micro-optimization and expand to macro-optimization within the network.

We’ll take a deeper look at the opportunities available through macro-optimization in the article “Are You Macro-Optimizing Your Supply Chain?”

To learn more about the benefits of a Global Trade Network, download the white paper “Transforming Supply Chain Strategy to a Global Trade Network Model.”

Related Article: Are You Macro-Optimizing Your Supply Chain?

 

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Complex Labeling Needs for Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Distribution

July 21, 2017

Trek Bicycle Corp. is a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of bicycles and cycling products through more than 5,000 independent dealers internationally.

The company, headquartered in the United States, uses an enterprise labeling system to manage increasing customer demands, manufacturing processes, warehousing and inventory control and retail challenges.

The centralized solution reduced label templates from 500 to 1 and prints more than 10 million customer labels globally.

The company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system consists of numerous modules for functional areas such as pricing, inventory, and manufacturing.

It interfaces with at least 10 other software solutions used throughout the enterprise and has more than 1,000 users in total. Labeling in the manufacturing process helps identify parts with orders, provide unique information and meet a variety of customer requirements.

Case Study: Trek Bicycle Keeps Pace with Customer Label Demands

The company also generates a range of mission-critical labels including work order labels, configuration labels, inventory labels and shipping labels. Models, products, and accessories change seasonally, which means customers require changes to existing labeling from a flexible labeling system.

Trek needed a solution to enable them to enter information and promptly generate labels in their warehouses that could be applied to bike boxes and used on site for shipping and receiving purposes. The new enterprise labeling solution (Loftware) allowed Trek to address evolving customer requirements and their complex labeling needs for manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution.

The system’s centralized approach allows the company to integrate labeling processes with their existing ERP system to drive labeling directly from the customer’s transactions, offering consistency and greater control.

The integration also retrieves data from other sources. The labeling solution’s business logic features removed a burden from IT by offering easily configurable label formatting and dynamic content to support different label combinations with a minimum number of label designs.

Browser-based, on-demand print capabilities offer controlled access to label printing throughout operations in the warehouse and across the supply chain.

“Business users are able to make label changes if a dealer calls and wants to change the logo or change how the bar code looks or some sizing,” says Tom Spoke, global IT distribution manager at Trek.

“It’s easy to do. We don’t even need to get involved from an IT standpoint. We’ve never had to focus our efforts on making sure that the labeling system works because it always has. We’ve run 10 million labels and our uptime is literally 100%.”

Move Inventory Faster. It Starts with the Label

 

 

 

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