Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain & Logistics Insiders
A full-bodied satirical dramedy with a hint of grotesqueness, intensely bold and spicy on the palate. Balanced with crispy notes of appealing to supply chain management, logistics, HoReCa, and travel to avoid being sitting ducks in the face of the nasty economic crisis approaching the world at a neckbreak pace. Packed with creamy tech-first strategies to redeem damage on the finish. Ideal as a spring dinner aperitif or on its own.
A riddle. No one saw it coming, and most believe: if you ignore it, it may well go away. It favored us with head-scratching complications internationally, besmirching the good names of reputable businesses and elegantly turning our long-term logistics strategies into an endless mess.
Any wild guesses? He shoots, he scores! Sure, the jinx is the godforsaken Great Supply Chain Disruption. On the off chance that there actually is someone who’s not hassled by this nightmare… What can we say aside from you’re annoying? Kidding, high five — you’re lucky!
The rest of us mortals are trying to get away with boatloads of havoc. Skyrocketing costs, delays, shortages of whatnot, and geopolitical turmoil for good measure. As a team understanding a thing or two in hotel logistics and restaurant supply chain solutions, we’ll just put in our two cents on how far down the rabbit hole we are and how to try to get out.
Spoiler alert. Like it or not, our crystal ball goes: we better get ready for a years-long marathon. Boring-boring. At least we can do it with style, bantering like nobody’s watching. Let’s go then.
Inception or HoReCa supply chain shivers
Okay, how come we’ve landed ourselves at this miserable point? Long story short — it all began some gloomy day when the COVID-19 pandemic knocked our doors to bring the end of the world as we knew it. Out of nowhere, we got a portal to some pretty scary dimension left wide open.
Businesses be like:
- Viruses come and go. This can’t be that bad! (denial)
- Hey, how dare you! We have every right to do our job! Sue us! (anger)
- At least allow working at low capacity. Or pay hotel supply chain penalties. What, no financial support, no nothing? (bargaining)
- Gone are the blissful days when one could freely go downtown Manhattan to have our signature overpriced crab salad… Gosh, what’s next? We’re so out of here! (depression)
- Okay guys, let’s keep our finest celebration caps on hand in case this ends any time soon. (acceptance)
Image credit: Reuters
Still, even with vaccines reaching the bloodstream and the lockdown curtain loosening its grip here and there, life was never going to be the same.
Globalization gone awry: a major crisis in supply chain management
Back then, waiting for a return to normalcy, so many businesses were dead wrong with their expectations in so many ways. HoReCa was aching for the customers to drop their mixers, let home baked muffins go ashtray, get out of sugar coma, and elbow their ways back to fancy restaurants and cafés. Well, some did.
But other than customer churn, there were far more troubles looming out of the stormy market. Extrapolating from the collapse in spending and production on the early rise of the pandemic, the assumption around manufacturing and transportation insiders was that demand would fall. Instead, some goods spiked in demand.
Take the durables. They became really huge: with many people stopping eating out, spending preferences shifted towards kitchen appliances, exercise machines, electronics, and furniture.
Out of misjudgement and misplanning, sprang shipping reductions and product shortages. Even more, this turned out to be just a warm-up act to a domino effect. When emptied, shipping containers were chaotically piled up within ports all across the world, taking excessive warehouse capacities.
Supply chain management networks cracked — non-stop orders, ports ballooning with goods, container costs skyrocketing tenfold. And off it went to subside approximately never. The fuel and energy costs rised in time with public anger. Persistent labor shortages bursted as enterprises struggled to find enough truck drivers hauling cargos.
Are we ever done with driver hiring?
The pretty pandemonium continued with component shortages. Namely, seems like we’re running out of computer chips, and this is going to hurt. Tesla complains about issues within the supply chain for their electric cars, while the U.S. commerce secretary considers chip scarcity an “alarming” threat to the national industry.
Add to this structural problems of ports with their overtaxed infrastructure and outdated shipping tech, with consumers ordering ahead — and voilà, we are down a lasting crisis. And just about the time we clearly smelled the smoke of economic recession, Russia attacked Ukraine and started maniacally threatening a nuclear-shaped problem. As if we haven’t had enough.
Isn’t it getting hot in here? Heck of a situation to consider relocating to another planet. The violent military conflict promises to have long negative effects on the world economy. Inflation hits record levels in decades, supply chain suffers the major disjunction over the last 30 years.
The International Monetary Fund reports the global growth falling from an estimated 6.1% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022. A tough call for a roomful of industries — from manufacturing, transportation, and automotive, to labor, energy, HoReCa, travel, and government all along. Time that we stopped being quitters and became doers.
Getting out of the frying pan: techie instruction
Now that we are getting used to living in a whole new reality, “Pray for world peace” stops sounding like a pathetic beauty queen speech. Working from the assumption that we’ll still have a life (going places not covered with nuclear dust, meeting people, doing business kind of things) we got something other than a napkin up our sleeve.
And yep, we know you’re too clever to buy a spherical cow here. We’ll try our best to escape being a shallow cliché, offer actionable ideas, and flash some firsthand know-how. Deal?
First off, we can’t be pretending to be Atlas-level heavy-lifters capable of unloading ports or manufacturing chip families, among other things. As Julius Caesar used to say, “I can multitask, but there should be an app for that”. Still, anything in between cooling white dwarfs and halting global warming is no rocket science for us.
A short mic check and field inspection. From our perspective, we see the following: HoReCa, travel and hospitality enterprises got cornered by shrinking supply chain opportunities and started admitting to their flaws in strategic, transportation and logistics infrastructures planning.
Though we don’t have a silver bullet to the crisis, we’ll give a snapshot of solutions fixing the issues and getting things done easier. Good news is we know the drill building tech for non-vessel-operating carriers, freight shippers and forwarders, warehousing firms, couriers, and other hard-working fellows. Come along.
Of all recommendations, there’s nothing like process automation that can bore to death. Whatever. Given its efficiency gains and the global economy context, this is a surefire escape from instant karma. Basically, the Why Fix What’s Not Broken argument serves as a perfect countdown for many firms.
Not that we swear that each manual control freak is necessarily a toast. It’s just that out of our practice, delegating routines to a fault-free technology like artificial intelligence or blockchain gives a 100% resource payoff. Let’s crunch some stats at a glance:
The most recent forecasts estimate growth of the global blockchain supply chain market from $145M in 2022 to $3,314.6M by 2031, under a Compound Annual Growth Rate as high as 87.0%.
A quick example. Our client, a supply chain management enterprise, had a global-scale network of transportation hubs. To orchestrate the entire logistics life cycle, the company needed a load-resistant all-in-one app, and we engineered a cloud-enabled solution accelerating data-intensive workflows.
The app now caters to restaurant supply chain shippers, freight and carrier services worldwide to intuitively settle cargo turnaround, GPS-track data and driver activity, communicate in real time, and analyze stats on process efficiency. Under the hood, the platform is powered by AI, thus automating route planning, processing thousands of requests, and governing hundreds of dispatches.
The bottom line is that the app enabled ultimate visibility on resources, reduced energy consumption and operational costs, and helped the client wave goodbye to the risks of delays, uncontrolled loss, and bad customer satisfaction, nice and easy.
Mobile- & digital-first facilities
Yet another way to avoid ending up with a heck of a waste when it comes to logistics is to wrap dispatch and shipment into an accessible mobile app. Just like one of our clients owning plants and a vehicle fleet. Their headache was to support logistics, finance, and geospatial data layers within 1000 employees all at once, under limited internet access.
Well, it turned out to be pretty doable. Our team delivered a scalable cross-platform mobile solution streamlining delivery process, from receipt generation to vehicle unloading. To facilitate connection, we created an additional server component linking the app with the client’s internal network. Sheer beauty, works like a charm.
Microservices architecture development
Innovation can be by far the trickiest challenge for logistics, insurance, and transportation companies dealing with high-risk financial operations running on monolithic systems. Being like this, what do you think are the chances to keep up with, say, Industry 4.0 or Web 3.0? We’d assume they are next to zero, same as if jumping a sack race.
To think ahead and avoid getting stuck with obsolete web forms-based solutions, enterprises opt to transform them into nifty ecosystems underlying microservice architectures. Even though your infrastructure complexity may seem crazy, keep calm — we specialize in crazy, so you can totally sit the activity out.
The underlying magic here is API-led connectivity. To rule out mission-critical system failures, we’ll incrementally split existing business logic into reusable and autonomous apps. The container architecture paradigm ensures sensible tech transition across ecosystems and employees while reinforcing power and cost efficiency.
Value-driven producers choice
Let us see. Consider putting your environmental initiatives on the back burner, as the times are hard all the same? Been there, done that. Think again. Whatever excuse you may conceive, sustainable is the new normal. As market researchers note, 44% is a share of consumers selecting brands and goods promoting the values they have in common.
Namely, our hospitality and HoReCa clients increasingly focus on advocating a healthy lifestyle, green economy, and reduced carbon footprint. And by no means they ignore new tech standards. Speaking of which, we cannot but mention progressive web apps.
For a client providing restaurant supply chain services, we happened to build a cloud-enabled PWA with a POS interface allowing guests to book room service, aiding kitchen staff in planning healthy meals while reporting the nutrition details. Sustainability, tech-based automation? Done and done.
Future-proof functionality implementation
By no means all the above mentioned items were just a cheat meal. It’s just that, for common sense’s sake, we don’t want this article to become a boast board. Oh, wait. We are still officially angling for a peek at quite a bunch of smart tech specialties we apply to help businesses survive the Great Supply Chain Disruption.
On top of the “evergreen and circular” catnip, joining the list are:
a) Multi-channel data management and analytics tools
These are wizard reporting and visualization dashboards, supply chain management optimization platforms, high-profile BI/ETL instruments letting you hold top cards for a strategic market play at all times.
b) HMS, payment management, and procurement solutions
For things keeping you on your toes like billing, transactions, forecasts, and inventory governance, we build custom gizmos and ERP integrations automating routines and keeping costly mistakes at bay.
c) Takeout digitalization and POS automation systems
Takeout is an urgent top-of-the-list matter to be sent online firsthand, and that’s what we do. Also, as an angel on your shoulder, we recommend getting your self-service order management integrated with POS and kiosks.
d) HoReCa and travel processes streamlining apps
As you reenact hospitality for globetrotters back on the road, we design software gracefully handling hotel booking, ticketing, scheduling, reservation, vehicle rental, and whatnot. Or else, we build interactive portals for staff and clients helping research and compare offerings.
e) Customer relationship management platforms
Having a moment with your clients brings reputation gains and makes you the talk of the town. To ultimately personalize your services, hotel and restaurant guest experience, and loyalty programs, we engineer client feedback governance solutions.
f) You name it
We are T-shaped enough to resolve anything, unless it has to do with Millennium Prize problems. Though, the Riemann hypothesis may not be a deal breaker either. Kidding.
When you are thorough with risk calculations
Image credit: startalkradio.net
A little something for a mic drop
Kidding aside, it’s not a top secret that supply chain and logistics are hotspot segments where one is to be a true shark, so there’s no need to babysit the pros. Yet, increasing operational intricacy itself is a smoking gun of a lasting problem that time alone isn’t able to tackle.
Meaning, beggars can’t be choosers. To a great extent, the promise of making the kit and caboodle go down belongs to technology. This isn’t to say that it will work some quick magic and we are back to normal — far from it. Still, we’d better be a “look on the bright side'' kind of person. It’s either:
a) lets us get on with issues easier
b) cuts the gap ahead of market stabilization
Hang on a minute. As we’re getting to the wrap-up, we’re burning to tell you this was still a fraction of worthy development destinations. And yes, we see not many will jump at the chance to read a lifelong piece on the rest of them.
So, any time you put your mind to starting a business transformation — you have us, as that’s what we do for a living. Make it a project-based engagement, dedicated team, a short-time extension, or a managed service — we are perfectly flexible. Now let’s call it a day, hug you goodbye.
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