At one time, managing supply chain logistics was among the most difficult challenges that existed for a shipping company. Previously, the shippers with the best operational management programs sat at the head of the pack by default. Today, with increased automation and near-instantaneous data availability, controlling logistics has never been easier, and just about everyone is at least competent at handling their supply chains. This is a very positive thing for consumers; however, it also means that for companies to be able to innovate, grow and maintain a competitive edge, just being “good” at supply chains isn’t enough–these days, to achieve long-term success, you have to be great.
Here are five steps shippers can take to leverage IoT technology solutions in their supply chains:
Knowing what you are starting with is one of the most important steps in the entire process. Map out your existing process with fine, granular detail. If you have access to a Six Sigma expert, bring them in. When you have your current process defined, then, and only then, are you prepared to further enhance and improve your supply chain with IoT solutions.
Ensure you have a chairperson, as well as enough allocated resources with “skin in the game,” to spearhead the implementation process. Nothing will throw sand in the gears faster than a team that has minimal direction and does not have any incentive to push things forward quickly and efficiently. Identify these people, have regular meetings with them and work together on S.M.A.R.T. type goals.
Study your peers and competitors to see what they are or are not doing. It’s highly probable that their struggles are also your struggles. However, don’t just follow your biggest competitor blindly, but rather study what they’re doing and develop a competitive edge based on their weaknesses. Map out their processes, see where they have implemented IoT technology, ask the ‘why’ and then take the best parts to incorporate into your own unique strategy.
Consultants are experts for a reason. They’ve done this before and know what works and does not work. Developing an IoT solution is no easy task, so picking your consultant is an important step. Speak to multiple experts to gain multiple, educated opinions on how to proceed. Use the task force you created earlier and choose the best path for your organization that will have the greatest ROI.
Once you have mapped out your existing process, built your team, studied your competition, enlisted the help of experts, calculated your ROI and implemented your IoT technology solutions – don’t stop! IoT technology is ever-changing and learning, constantly collecting and analyzing granular data for your use. The more time and data that is dedicated to this process, the sharper your process will become. This access to information will open doors to opportunities for efficiency and possibly new markets in your supply chain.
What all of this translates to is a potential market that is broader than ever before. However, as new tech continues to narrow traditional gaps in efficiency, it also means that companies are now battling one another on that basis – when competing in an environment where customers can compare shipping speed and choose accordingly, getting package there faster is of paramount importance.
Companies need to find ways of protecting current market share while expanding into other areas. In this regard, IoT technology becomes especially valuable. IoT allows businesses to be more adaptable and make decisions on-the-fly, in addition to minimizing costly errors. Data collection also gives unprecedented perspective on customer needs as well as behaviors, allowing companies to innovate based on sound evidence – all of which creates opportunity for increased revenues.
The bottom line: technology is the way forward for just about every aspect of supply chain development. As always, innovation is an ongoing process and in the pursuit of greatness there’s simply no solution for investment and creativity. With all the tools that IoT provides, and these actionable steps, the possibilities truly are endless.
It’s that time of year again. Thousands of qualified college graduates are getting set to enter the workforce. They were promised that their hard work and diligence will earn them an attractive job and a high chance of success. With ambition, motivation, and dreams, scores of young men and women will forge their way into the business world. Some of them have lofty goals of entrepreneurship. Many are under the impression that whatever works for high profile examples of successful leaders in business will also work for them. Public information and theory are often misleading, and so is attempting to imitate another company’s or leader’s blueprint. According to some experts, new college graduates often make five brutal mistakes as they try to navigate their own potential new enterprise.
1) Recent college graduates think they know a lot more than they do upon graduation: Implementation is different to theory and ideas, so you need to be able to bring operational performance and many other skills to the table. Knowledge is one thing, but true execution will provide the experience you really need.
2) Many do not understand how funding works and the capitol needed in the initial phases of a business. Inexperienced people are misled when it comes to startup funding and what is needed to begin and grow a business. Often young founders don’t think about basic concepts like unit economics, which is selling something for more than what it costs to make. Even some very well funded startups tend to ignore this.
3) Raising funds does not equal success. Many young entrepreneurs are focused on the superficial belief that the more money they raise, the more successful their business is going to be. While it’s true that, everything else being equal, having more money to spend on your business is good, there is a lot more to it than that simple formula. Plenty of businesses fail because they raised too much money and it encouraged them to do things that didn’t make sense. Many other businesses fail because they raised money that they believed would fund all of their dreams of growth, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Other businesses fail because they raise the wrong kind of money, such as debt they can’t repay on time or equity that causes them to lose control of their business.
4) Inexperienced founders
often overestimate their own importance and don’t appreciate the importance of
the team they build around them. It is not easy to find skilled people who also
happen to be a good fit for the culture and mission of your enterprise.
This takes a lot more time, effort, and trial and error than many founders
realize if they haven’t done it before. You need a great team to build a
great team. But that the classic chicken and egg problem you have to solve. You
have to be careful, and realize you will make mistakes, about who you hire
early in the life of your company. Only offer substantial equity and
responsibility to those who have proven themselves. Recognize your hiring
mistakes and correct them quickly. Teams often don’t rise to the level of their
best people. They often sink to the level of their worst people. Keep that in
mind as you build your company.
5) Know and own your limitations. Young innovators especially, though it applies even to more experienced entrepreneurs, tend to lack self-awareness of their own weaknesses. These blind spots can be disastrous. Most highly successful people understand their weaknesses and surround themselves with others who can do what they cannot, who share a similar vision, and with whom they can collaborate. Inexperience can lead to overconfidence. This is an especially dangerous pitfall for early stage startups and new entrepreneurs.
Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is a good example of a culmination of all 5 of these mistakes and what inexperience can do to a business idea. She raised $900 million. Her company was worth billions. She was on the cover of magazines and featured on TV shows and one of the best founders in a generation. But it ended in failure and she may go to prison for her behavior.
There are real world, and sometimes life altering, consequences for making these mistakes. Think through your decisions carefully and be aware of the risks you take as you pursue your exciting and hopefully rewarding entrepreneurial journey.
Sometimes a good salary isn’t enough.
Companies that want to attract and keep the best talent are finding that – perhaps more than ever – they need to understand just what it is today’s employees want out of work and then find ways to provide that.
While a great salary and good benefits are important, employees also desire such things as flexible schedules, a way to let their talents shine, and work that gives them a purpose, according to the 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer.
And, with the unemployment rate so low, it’s easier for employees to find work elsewhere if they become discontented. That makes it even more important to keep them happy, since replacing employees can prove expensive.
“The majority of human behavior is emotionally driven, but unfortunately a higher percentage is driven by negative emotions,” says Alex Zlatin, CEO of Maxim Software Systems, a dental-practice-management software company, and author ofResponsible Dental Ownership (www.alexzlatin.com).
“A high turnover of employees suggests a high level of stress, which indicates there are human resources problems that need to be addressed. In some cases, an employee may just be a bad fit. But in other cases, it could be that management in some way isn’t meeting the needs of the employees.”
Anytime an employee leaves, the business will need to find a replacement and then train that replacement. There is reduced productivity during that hiring and training timeframe, and there also could be morale problems if other employees have to take up the slack.
Zlatin says just a few of the ways companies can give employees what they want – and benefit the business at the same time – include:
-Help them understand their purpose. It’s important for employees to be able to grasp the connection between their daily tasks and the goals, vision and purpose of the company, Zlatin says. “This connection is the key to building the employees’ awareness that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, which gives them purpose,” Zlatin says. “This is especially true for the millennial generation. Purpose is essential to their happiness and retention. One of the most important things to millennials in a work setting is to be able to make that connection, allowing them to adopt the company’s goals as their own.”
-Empower them to grow and learn. A good manager should inspire employees to think outside the box. “You want to push them outside their comfort zones so they can find better ways to achieve their goals,” Zlatin says. Employees who don’t feel they are being challenged, who aren’t growing in their abilities, are more likely to become bored and seek employment elsewhere.
-Provide coaching and mentoring. “Coaching and mentoring means guiding people through failures and mistakes,” Zlatin says. “This is the best way to learn and gain experience.” But if you try to mentor people by telling them exactly what they need to do and making sure they do it, he says, you’re not a leader or a mentor. Instead, you are a supervisor who is ensuring that processes are being followed. “There’s no creativity there,” Zlatin says. “Telling people how to solve a problem limits their professional growth and prevents them from realizing their potential.”
“To keep employees happy and engaged, it’s important for businesses to have a clarity of purpose and an ability to communicate expectations,” Zlatin says.
“Without these, employees end up not knowing what they should be doing, how they should be doing it, what goals they need to achieve, and how they fit into the organization. They become frustrated and start looking for another workplace that will give them what they need.”
About Alex Zlatin
Alex Zlatin, the author of the book Responsible Dental Ownership(www.alexzlatin.com), had more than 10 years of management experience before he accepted the position of CEO of a company that makes a dental practice management software (Maxident). His company helps struggling dental professionals take control of their practices and reach the next level of success with responsible leadership strategies. He earned a B.Sc. in Technology Management at HIT in Israel and earned his MBA at Edinburgh Business School.