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Information Logistics

By James Hanauer, CTO and VP Engineering, CTSI-Global and Richard Perry, Product Manager, CTSI-Global

James Hanauer, CTO and VP Engineering, CTSI-Global and Richard Perry, Product Manager, CTSI-Global

It’s no secret that gone are the days where information technology (IT) is optional for businesses. Technology departments are no longer a necessary cost center housed in the company basement – they are necessary partners in the business.

The transformation of a company’s demand on technology for business has forced an evolution in the role of the CIO/CTO. The modern CIO role has evolved to include the responsibilities of being a key strategic business executive and a technology polyglot. Specialization in a technology realm for CIOs has fallen subject to the process of natural selection. CIOs need to be able to understand enough about different technologies to find the right technical staff or technology partners. This new incarnation of the CIO position demands that its incumbent be able to establish strong working relationships, be part entrepreneur, and be an ever-expanding technologist performing continuous research on technologies and methodologies that empower the business in reaching its strategic objectives. Logistics departments have a very similar evolutionary story with their impact on business. IT and logistics solutions start with people and end with technology.

"If logistics is your business, the information that comes out of and goes into the execution of a supply chain has major impact on  all aspects of the company"

 Integrating People
Building vigorous and dynamic relationships in the organization at all levels is vital. Building relationships based on trust, respect, and understanding improves morale and reduces friction in obtaining important information quickly. Information provided by all internal and external users, partners, vendors, and even competitors is essential in uncovering high-priority areas for improving efficiency, and provides a more complete picture to establish truly successful solutions. Without these relationships, untapped potential within the corporation would lay undiscovered and underutilized.

Gathering this information, especially in distributed teams, is time-consuming, inefficient, and delayed without the right technology.

CTSI-Global previously executed an initiative around expanding its global offices, and centralized communication was neces- sary for staying connected. Efforts focused on expanding the offices and supporting clients could not be derailed by a long evaluation and procurement process for establishing a minimal viable communication solution.

Leveragi ng the strong working relationships with key personnel, IT capitalized on its familiarity with the operations of core departments and seamlessly obtained further usability requirements of end users. From there, an application was identified that could be tailored to meet the needs of the company. Virtualization and cloud technologies facilitated creating a beta instance of the application without getting bogged down in resource procurement. Cloud technologies minimized the impact on technical resources, and allowed the team to focus on executing the core business requirements. This provided a solid proofof- concept environment for verifying if key user stories could be met, and this ultimately accelerated the project adoption. With this inclusive and rapid solution, CTSI-Global exponentially increased collaboration and improved morale, but didn’t introduce any significant impact on IT resources or budget when managing the application.

Logistics of Logistics
In logistics, having the right information at the right time is vital. The CIO plays a critical role in understanding and executing information availability and delivery needs. It doesn’t matter if logistics is just part of your business, or if logistics is your business, the information that comes out of and goes into the execution of a supply chain has major impact on all aspects of the company: Sales, Marketing, Support, Development, Manufacturing, Quality, Accounting and Finance, Compliance, Distribution, Warehousing, and even Suppliers, Store Fronts, and Customers.

Logistics has a lot of dependencies and a lot of data going into and generated from controlled and uncontrolled trading partners. A popular and simplified example of the communication complexity and needs for low latency information in Supply Chain Logistics can be illustrated through the Beer Game1 created by professors from the MIT Sloan School of Management. The game is commonly used to introduce the Bullwhip Effect where a small market change amplifies as it progresses through the supply chain to the wholesaler, then the distributor, and down to the factory or manufacturer. The takeaway is that global information visibility is vital, and modern technologies are required to simplify the interchange between trading partners. Relationships and close partnerships with manufacturers and shippers, for example, arepart and parcel for supply chain and company success.

CIOs have to face the challenges of assisting the logistics department in getting these parties integrated, collaborating, and adding measurable value. Integrating trading partners goes beyond establishing electronic communication. The specifics of the exchanged information, its usability and potential latency, impact logistic operations and other critical areas within the corporation. The data needs to provide transactional operation elements for all functions of the company as well as data elements necessary for enabling business intelligence.

As a cloud provider of logistics Software- as-a-Service (SaaS), CTSI-Global centralizes the collaboration within the supply chain, extends existing business intelligence capabilities, and rapidly adapts to the customer’s changing business requirements. The increased cohesion of transportation, suppliers, clients, warehouses, and accounting with a global reach delivers operational and strategic logistics insights never before possible.

Global companies utilizing CTSI-Global’s solutions have integrated multiple independent sites, their unique logistics providers such as 3PLs and WMSs, carriers, and individual ERP requirements, into a unified toolset for executing, monitoring, analyzing, and improving all aspects of the supply chain.

The effective collection and analysis of such vast amounts of information fits into the modern-day idea of Big Data. Big Data Technology, like Cloud Technology, is a broad term that covers the spectrum and combination of individual technologies to solve specific problems. While it usually pertains to the utilization of more historic and somewhat static information, some companies experience large amounts of data flowing through the daily transactional system and need near real-time analytics to support time-sensitive decision-making processes. Ultimately, the company will want to mine the data for trend analysis and even discover unrealized opportunities by applying machine-learning technologies to the vast amounts of different structured and semistructured data.

Realizing the right solutions is done through a close partnership of the CIO and logistics executives. Their combined efforts, and relationships with corporate departments and supply chain contributors, are the foundation to effectively defining and introducing the right technologies. Ensuring that the right people are available to define holistic needs and a viable solution is the first step for the CIO and logistics executives. In the pursuit of transparently leveraging technology to keep focus on corporate objectives, modern technologies such as the diversity of public and private cloud solutions are enabling companies to rapidly solve problems, big and small, with less capital overhead. In the end, these technologies help companies live long and prosper.

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