Inside Logistics and Shipping for the CIO

In response to new technological, financial, and political conditions, the global economy has changed dramatically during the last few years.

Companies of all sizes are struggling to cope with more stringent business and operational conditions, and one place they are focusing attention is on the technology that links them to their markets, suppliers and customers.

I am speaking, of course, of the supply chain and specifically logistics and shipping. Back “in the day,” supply chain management was all about operations. That changed when CIOs, fresh from building out global communications networks, suddenly found themselves needing to provide their organization with real-time visibility into those networks.

Almost overnight, information was poring in about business operations far and near. Managers and line staff craved data about sales, deliveries, backlogs and more. Shippers, logistics service providers and receivers wanted to track goods making their way in an increasingly complex network.

So, what’s a CIO need to know about today’s supply chain?

Any company with a large outbound transportation requirement faces an extended supply chain that has grown in complexity from the days of the traditional linear chains. These new and complex networks demand sophisticated control of the execution and real-time information while keeping logistics management costs down.

The challenges are many in this new supply chain model. Consider the fact that transportation is an “in-the-field” activity and events influencing its execution are difficult to predict and control. Also consider that the industry is limited in its ability to make real-time decisions and anticipate issues due to the lack of tools that provide operational data.

One approach is to take a look at a new set of business applications that run faster, more accurately and succeed within the new market parameters. Oracle, SAP and third-party vendors are pushing forward with software with new kinds of capabilities that are worth consideration, especially for the mobile and wireless workforce.

Checking the Boxes

CIOs need to grasp the latest in supply chain execution and management because the stakes are so high. Pinpointing problems and opportunities in field operations has never been so important.

Whether you are a hands-on CIO or delegate the function to a team, you can use the following feature set as a guide in understanding software applications that deliver real-time visibility and tracking of vehicles and cargo:

Scheduling – Find a solution that allows you to integrate with external routing systems (TMS) or assist in the creation of routes, either manual or semi-automated based upon pre-defined business rules.

Telemetry Monitors – Look for a solution that provides integrated sensor devices and tags for capturing data (door open/door closed, temperature, speed, direction, asset location) to support predefined business rules.

Vehicles and Cargo Tracking – Be sure your solution supports real-time monitoring of the physical location of the vehicle and cargo. It should also provide vehicle visibility on the date and time of the arrival and departure.