From physical logistics to data logistics

by Ivo-Paul Tummers on 12th October 2018

This was the year of the bankrupt chain stores. But there are of course more business models that are under serious pressure, with a recently poor harvest. We can no longer protect the old, but we must embrace the new. In the last years I have been involved in many transformations of European organisations, from small to large, and especially traditional companies, often self-appointed, pragmatic and proud of past achievements. The future is also on their doorstep but the traditional boundaries of the value chain are fading. Wholesalers become retailers. And manufacturers directly serve the end customer. It strikes me that all successful organisations are busy with omni-channel and self-service concepts.

An observation is that logistical excellence is no longer leading. The added value in physical products and services is subject to great competitive pressure. Innovations in this area are quickly copied. New business models are information driven. Quick insight into the right information about customers, products and processes is crucial. VIQTOR DAVIS realises models in which we make clear and predict the motives and the behaviour. For example, VIQTOR DAVIS ensures that a well-known French cosmetics house achieves accurate on-the-shelf availability. An English supermarket chain can register and offer its suppliers digitally. A Dutch bank allows its customers to take care of the mortgage application themselves. And a fashion brand can segment micro so that the production is specifically tailored to the target group. The latter partly driven by sustainability. This means that best-connected is valid.

But that is only useful when the basic information is in order. You put your supplier or your customer at the wheel based on information from your own organisation. This requires consistent management, coherent policies, processes and decision-making rights for a certain authority. And that is not very easy to sell in the Netherlands. We are proud of our Calvinism and the pragmatism just mentioned. “Nice story, but now we are going to roll up our sleeves and work again”. That is usually the primary reaction. With the danger of linger in physical logistics investments. Imagine that you denied an ERP system in the 1990s. Or had the added value of a website questioned. That is difficult to imagine today, because you can not do without both. But can you afford to go into the future without information landscape? And even though the trend of automation is based on cloud services, you have to put your housekeeping in order.

Let me reassure you. What I ask you to do is to put the concept of ‘information integration and governance’ on your agenda and not dismiss it as academic. Now that organisations are no longer wondering what big data is, but more what it can contribute, an information and integration policy plays an important role. One realises a data life cycle that describes what happens to data when it goes through various processes. It simplifies the tracing of errors back to their sources. When a truck leaves half-loaded, it is not easily associated with incorrect master files where the dimensions of the goods are incorrectly stored. When a management report is incorrect, it is still difficult to accept that this is due to price differentiation in new channels. Two examples where the logistics system no longer satisfies supply chain integration and multi-channel developments. But examples taken from life.

Guarantee that your employees and suppliers work with the right data, especially if you also provide access to customers, and with a common business vocabulary in which accountability is invested for concepts and definitions. When this competence is realised, you can focus your efforts on gaining a competitive advantage. Data governance is basically not about the data. It is about your business processes, your decisions and the interactions of stakeholders you want to engage. This can be manageable, understandable and affordable. In fact, many organisations in small and medium-sized businesses have already preceded you. VIQTOR DAVIS has developed a short cyclic method to accelerate the introduction. Now you are on the move. This forms the basis for your success in the new world. Where the winners shift from physical logistics to data logistics.

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