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7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Launching a New Software Program


7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Launching a New Software Program

In the business arena, software remains one of the fastest-growing categories of startups today — and for good reason! The scalability of software, and it’s unique ability to serve one or one million users, makes it the ideal weapon of choice for entrepreneurs looking to make a big impact.
In my 10+ years as a software developer and as the co-founder and Operating Partner of CiteMed, I have built my own software, hired teams, and worked for teams hell-bent on creating “the next big thing”. From apps, to Software as a Service, I have hit major pitfalls, completely failed, and even found my way into some successful companies.
Are you thinking of bringing your own software platform to market and want some helpful advice? If so, here is a highlight reel of the top mistakes that plague most young and ambitious software entrepreneurs. I personally made many of these mistakes and can attest to their severity.
If you are thinking about building something, struggling to find the best product market fit, or are fighting it out in the marketplace already, it’s imperative to avoid these key mistakes.
Not Choosing Your Market Wisely
Most software startups are doomed from the start, simply because their founders have chosen a bad market. Bad markets can be too competitive, or too empty (no real paying users). So when you are picking a market to enter with your software idea, make sure of two things: first, that your product can compete (don’t try and build a competitor to Facebook), and second, make sure that there will be paying customers or advertisers to pitch what you end up building to.
Not Building a REAL Minimum Viable Product
It’s all too tempting to set out with a features/functionality list that rivals the top competitors in your space. However, you are wasting your time and resources if you are waiting to build the perfect product before launching.
It’s (now) common Silicon Valley wisdom to launch a version of your software that you are a little embarrassed by. This is sage advice and should be heeded. The reality is, until you get feedback from real users and customers, you won’t be able to know exactly what to build. So take a guess of what that may be, build the fastest/quickest/dirtiest version of that guess, and then go out there and try and get people to use it.
Not Knowing Who Your Target User Is
While you may not know exactly what to build, you should have a very strong notion of who you are building it for. To do this, construct a detailed “avatar” of your ideal user.  Who are they? Where do they work? What do they do for fun? Why would they need your software? The more you understand your target user (and their problems), the better your software product will turn out. You can add functionalities and more that they would really find valuable.
Underestimating Your Budget
If you are in the more traditional “startup” and venture capital world, this translates into one thing: raise enough money. If you are a bootstrapper and self financed, this is even more critical to building your product. In my experience, I have found that software tends to take twice the time and (at least) twice the budget of whatever a professional or development team quotes you. As much as I hate to admit it, this is just the way it always seems to work out.
So when you set out to hire developers and build a team, be sure that you have enough capital to actually get a product out into the marketplace. If not, you will end up with a half-finished project, and shattered nerves.
Cheaping Out on Developers
When you do manage to find the budget, be sure that you aren’t just attracted to the cheapest bids from offshore development companies. Yes, while an $8/hour developer may seem attractive on paper, I assure you that they will end up costing you more in lost time, poor craftsmanship, and headaches down the line.
Pick good developers, and if you don’t know the difference, hire someone to pick them for you (let me tell you, a good Chief Technology Officer (CTO) co-founder is worth their weight in gold).
Not Having a Techie In Your Corner
While a CTO is not essential, working with one does eliminate the vast majority of problems that non-technical founders ultimately face in the building and launching of software products. They also significantly reduce your initial costs if they can write a large portion of the code themselves. If you can’t find a suitable co-founder that’s a programmer, simply having a friend or trusted advisor in your network to vet ideas and hire developers is well worth the effort to secure.
Waiting to Launch
Waiting until things are “perfect” is one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my software career. The truth is, your software will never be perfect. And by waiting, you are losing out on the most precious asset of all startups: real user feedback.
To combat this, instead of waiting to launch, launch immediately but with a very fast system in place to hear about and fix bugs. For example, you can set up an email address that all of your users can be instructed to send problems to, a phone number directly to you, or a live chat box.  The important thing is that users have an easy way to complain to you.
The second part of this is a way to quickly fix things. This is more of a challenge for your development team, but be sure that your developers have the capacity to fix things and get it to your customers immediately without a complex process of updating your software.
To Wrap It All Up
Congratulations on starting the journey of bringing new software to market! Make sure to avoid some of the most common mistakes that plague new software entrepreneurs, which include not choosing the market wisely, underestimating the budget, being cheap when selecting developers to work with, and waiting to launch. Avoiding these blunders should help your entrepreneurial endeavor be nothing short of successful.
Ethan Drower is the Co-Founder and Operating Partner of CiteMed, which is revolutionizing the European Union Medical Device Regulation (EU MDR) process. Literature Search and Review is the cornerstone of medical device companies’ Clinical Evaluation Report, and CiteMed has made this process more streamlined and optimized than ever. The CiteMed team was formed to deliver a high volume of beautifully written and formatted Literature Reviews on timelines that will enable companies to meet their EU MDR goals. CiteMed’s top goal is to help companies get their medical products to market as quickly as possible, all while maintaining state-of-the-art compliance with the European Commission regulations. A renowned business expert, Ethan educates others on the fundamentals of launching a successful software product, tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, and
trade finance


Trade finance is known for its stubbornness in the face of change. Even as the world has gone digital, paper-based manual processes remain commonplace across the complex network of counterparties involved in financing global trade. Thankfully, the tide is now turning. To digitize or not digitize is no longer the question–it’s now a case of “when,” not “if.”

The operational challenges of relying on manual processes and systems are well known and much maligned across the industry–incorrect documentation and KYC, non-interoperable systems, manual reconciliation, poor visibility, excessive costs, to name just a few.

Digital solutions have emerged in many different shapes and sizes, but one of the technologies which seems most encouraging is enterprise blockchain. Trade is a fundamentally decentralized system. The industry is heavily intermediated–predominantly by banks that help to facilitate transactions and provide the financing behind them, but also by insurers, customs officials and other market participants. Firms have tried countless times to apply centralized solutions to this decentralized system but, unsurprisingly, none have really worked. 

The decentralized nature of blockchain makes it a perfect fit for trade finance. For the first time, the entire industry is getting behind a technology and moving it into real world deployment at a record pace. The architecture underpinning the entire ecosystem of trade is undergoing complete digital transformation, and exciting new blockchain-enabled developments continue to emerge. One such development is non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. But what are they and how do they benefit participants? 


A non-fungible token is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger. NFTs use blockchain technology to provide a public proof of ownership. You’ve probably heard of NFTs in the entertainment industry, largely because they can be associated as unique items with easily reproducible items such as photos, videos, audio and other types of digital files. But they also have wide applicability in the financial services space–and specifically in trade finance. 

It’s important to note that an NFT is simply a specific type of tokenization. Once a trade finance document or obligation has been tokenized, it can be referred to as an NFT. By contrast, a smart contract is a digital contract, stored on blockchain, which will execute once specified conditions are met. In the case of trade finance asset distribution, both smart contracts and tokenization work together to facilitate this activity.


In reality, NFTs for trade finance have been around for some time, though we’ve only just begun to describe them this way. You could think of trade finance as a practical implementation of the NFTs in the news today. Marco Polo is one such platform which already tokenizes payment obligations and invoices. 

Storing ownership data on blockchain reduces the costs and complications of paperwork that is otherwise required to verify the process. This is no small feat when you consider many of the processes and technologies underpinning trade finance have not been modernized in decades.

Take, for example, invoice financing. While a common activity, managing invoice payments and terms can be slow and inefficient for companies and their trading partners. They must navigate different currencies and jurisdictions, each with unique requirements in terms of contract terms and payments. 

By digitizing these manual processes and storing the data as an NFT, a technology such as blockchain has a real impact on reducing the costs, risks and delays to participants involved in trade finance. 


It is complicated and legally difficult to provide an optimal level of credit support to small companies. Nearly $1.5 trillion of demand for trade finance is rejected by banks, according to the Asian Development Bank, with 60% of banks expecting this figure to increase over the next two years. SMEs in developing markets that rely heavily on access to trade can be severely hindered through these outdated processes.

Tokenizing the payment guarantee of the final buyer can make it easier to provide this support, but there are important caveats to this. While tokenizing payment guarantees makes it cheaper and easier to execute credit support, there is no guarantee that these processes will then be used to extend supply chain financing through to the long tail of suppliers. It certainly could be used in this way, but it also might not be. This needs to be adopted at the industry level as suppliers would need to pass the NFT onto their own suppliers in turn for the tokenization of payment guarantees to truly be effective.

Although tokenizing the payment guarantee of the final buyer is a frequently mentioned use case, NFTs can also be used to digitize invoices for factoring, for example. Asset originators can tokenize invoices which can then be financed. This could be a very helpful step in enabling small companies to access the financing they need to grow trade.


Beyond their immediate benefits to banks and trading businesses, NFTs can also enable institutional investors to expand their activity in trade finance assets. These assets have historically struggled to scale for well-known reasons: investors find them complicated, there aren’t trusted quantitative benchmarks available and there often isn’t the necessary infrastructure to process them properly. Tokenizing trade finance receivables and payment obligations can simplify the process of asset transfer and solve one of these challenges, thus contributing to the scaling of trade finance assets.

Interest in trade finance as an asset class has grown over the past couple of years for reasons unrelated to NFTs. NFTs, as we think of them today, are relatively new and tend to be associated with digital content rather than physical goods. This framework suits trade finance assets because while they are linked to physical assets, the securities themselves are digital.

Programmable contracts used in combination with NFTs have shown great promise in tackling the problem of trade finance asset distribution. The use of the two functionalities together has promise as a way to support the building momentum around trade finance as an asset class.


In order to get the most out of NFTs and blockchain for trade finance–like any nascent technology–they must be used alongside existing systems. In reality, most businesses will continue to use their long-standing legacy systems throughout this transition to a fully digitized space. 

It is crucial, therefore, that disruption is kept to a minimum. NFTs and enterprise blockchain platforms should be viewed as a means of supporting and improving current processes, rather than replacing them. In other words, integration is the single most important factor in helping this industry to keep up with the rapidly digitizing world around it.   


As head of Trade and Supply Chain at R3, a Dublin, Ireland-headquartered enterprise technology and services provider with offices around the world, Alisa DiCaprio is responsible for trade strategy, standards and governance design. She was previously a senior economist at the Asian Development Bank and holds a doctorate from MIT.

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Six Big Trends in Cross-Border Logistics for 2022

As we look back on the year, the supply chain and logistics industry received more attention than ever before as it faced a myriad of challenges and circumstances. As we look towards 2022, here are some of the top trends and priorities to keep an eye on in the year ahead from Nuvocargo, the first digital freight forwarder and customs broker for US/Mexico trade.

Platformization and integration of data across the whole supply chain. The pandemic pushed the adoption of digital platforms lowering the friction to try new solutions that will drive migration from informal and manual communication platforms to specialized products that make their workdays more “automagical” by providing one source of truth and higher visibility. According to a report by Alloy Technologies Inc., 92 percent of executives agree supply chain visibility is important to success, only 27 percent have figured out a way to achieve it. This means, we may see a shift from discrete software to manage specific use cases (TMS and warehouse software) to platformization and integration of data across the whole supply chain, which will increasingly make operations smoother and companies more competitive. To achieve this, blockchain technology can be used to integrate all supply chain components in one platform and offer more transparency in the process.

Vetting suppliers and vendors based on resilience and adaptability.  With digitalization revolutionizing the logistics industry and bringing about more efficient processes, information exchange and visibility, we will see the industry shifting into a careful selection of partners based on their technological aptitude and insights. This will strongly be the case for Mexico since new tax regulations are forcing companies to adapt and optimize their processes in order to comply. Smaller carrier companies will struggle to comply with requirements when dealing directly with clients without the technical infrastructure of brokers. The accounting team of every logistics company will be put to the test and the ones that manage to leverage efficient and automated processes will avoid the crisis of on-time compliance for every shipment. From that angle, staying competitive will require a stricter filtering system of logistics partners and suppliers.

Regionalization of supply chain and nearshoring.  Organizations have been impacted by COVID-19 supply chain disruptions which have led companies to find suppliers closer to home to reduce costs and be less affected by more complex logistics or uncertainties. McKinsey’s report on the coronavirus effect on global economic sentiment says that uncertainty over COVID-19 is no longer executives’ foremost economic worry. Instead, they perceive the mounting fallout on the supply chain and inflation as the biggest threats to growth in their companies and economies.’ “Companies have learned the importance of being agile, adapting and solidifying to be able to thrive in volatile and unpredictable environments. That includes a restructure of the business core, technological implementation, regionalization, partners, etc.,” says Anaid Chacón, Head of Product of Nuvocargo. “Businesses have already started implementing new strategies over their supply chains and we can expect these shifts to continue in the coming years.”

Creative and technological solutions to address driver shortage. Delayed delivery is the accumulation of many factors. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in order to keep up with the current economic demand, more than a million truck drivers will have to join the industry. In 2022, we will see how the industry fills this need by tapping into talent from other areas or demographics with previous low representation among drivers. A 2019 US Department of Transportation report states that 28 percent of the current heavy truck driving workforce will be 65+ years in the next decade. This means that the industry will have to promote and offer more benefits to younger people and women since the current average US truck driver is 48 years old. We may also see solutions based on process automation or self-service systems for customers to deal with these labor shortages. Autonomous trucks are also on the rise since large transport lines are starting to buy and test efficiency and costs.

Innovative financing solutions for the supply chain. Continuously offering partners alternatives that will help finance their operations and improve their cash flow will benefit all parties in terms of incrementing capacity and in keeping the supply chain moving. “Our data collection and experience has taught us the pain points of our partners who have high expenses, get paid 30 to 60 days after delivering shipments, and often need loans with high fees to continue operating,” says Chacón. “This is an industry-wide condition that requires attention if we wish to continue strengthening and growing the industry. Financing is one of the solutions to cash flow unpredictability that is required to respond to demand spikes.”

Greener supply chains.  Logistics and transportation companies are pushing environmental efforts to make their supply chain less invasive or harmful. This may include eco-friendly warehouses with advanced energy management systems, climate-smart supply chain planning, etc. We can expect these initiatives to continue rising and becoming more sophisticated over time.

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How the ICC Plans to Restructure Global Trade Finance for a More Sustainable Global Economy

One of the most enduring effects of the COVID pandemic has been the disruption of the global supply chain. Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) constitute the majority of companies and employers worldwide and are major contributors to the total global gross domestic product. They frequently encounter more difficulties than other companies because they have less access to global trade finance systems.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) viewed the pandemic as an opportunity for positive disruption in favor of all global financial market participants. Accordingly, in August 2020, it created an Advisory Group on Trade Finance (ATF) and charged it with addressing trade finance challenges that hinder full participation by MSMEs. 

The ATF, in a joint effort with McKinsey and Fung Business Intelligence, recently released a proposal for restructuring global trade finance to better promote financial inclusion and sustainable finance. The report proposes a ten-year, three-phase process for modernizing and standardizing global trade finance systems through the introduction of an “interoperability layer.” 

In this article, we’ll summarize the report’s primary recommendations, provide an overview of the structure of the proposed interoperability layer, and discuss the anticipated effects on MSMEs worldwide. 

The current global trade finance market

In 2020, the finance market covered transactions totaling $5.2 trillion, or approximately 6% of the global gross domestic product. For financial institutions, this translated into 2% of their total revenue or roughly $40 billion. However, despite the size of the market, a finance availability gap of $1.7 trillion still exists, largely affecting MSMEs.

Fintech companies are relatively new participants in the market. However, they are actively working to develop new products at every stage in the supply chain, and the ICC report looks to leverage the capabilities of fintechs.

The vast majority (85%) of global trade finance addresses documentation issues associated with cross-border transactions, such as letters of credit, international guarantees, and international bills of lading, among other services. Documentation products and services also deal with regulatory and compliance issues, for example, anti-money laundering rules. The remainder is split between buyer-led financing (10%) and supplier-side finance (5%). 

What trade finance challenges does the proposal address?

Despite the sizable, robust trade finance market, there is substantial room for improvement, especially as it relates to MSMEs. According to the World Bank, as of 2017, approximately 65 million MSMEs were credit constrained. There are several reasons that MSMEs are less than full participants in the global trade finance arena, all of which the ICC seeks to rectify with its current proposal. Some of the most significant issues facing MSMEs are:

Lack of access to liquidity

Traditionally, MSMEs have had more difficulty accessing trade credit than larger corporations because they have less available collateral or are unable to meet established strict credit requirements. Credit requirements have not evolved to reflect changes in the global economy and there is a dearth of alternative financing options for international transactions. Because of this, MSMEs frequently find themselves without available credit for purchases or sales. 

Transaction complexity

The disparate requirements for international transactions and financing worldwide impose additional challenges on smaller firms with more limited resources. Just keeping track of the different requirements for each jurisdiction can be an overwhelming task. And when it comes time to meet the documentation requirements for each transaction, the burden only increases.

Limited access to B2B markets

B2B marketplaces create tremendous efficiencies in the market by pairing suppliers and purchasers quickly and simply. MSMEs, however, often lack either the knowledge base or the resources to gain access to these marketplaces. And for MSME suppliers, financing, capital, and cash flow issues can prevent them from establishing themselves as effective participants in B2B markets. 

What is the ICC’s reconception of global finance?

The ICC proposes a three-phase, ten-year plan for developing globally accepted standards that serve as a framework for common systems, all of which come together in an interoperability layer. The interoperability layer will not be hardware or software, but instead a virtual construct that sets the baseline standards and best practices supporting trade finance digitization. Digitization is increasingly important to MSMEs, after all. According to recent studies, 43% of small businesses now fully rely on online banks. 

Ultimately, the ICC envisions new standardized and shared architectures equally accessible to all market participants. The interoperability layer would replace the patchwork of standards and protocols that currently exist and fill regulatory gaps by developing a unified and consistent set of standards and practices. The proposed interoperability layer accomplishes three main missions. 

First, it encourages widespread adoption of existing trade finance standards to bring market participants into a common network. Second, it creates new standards and processes to fill existing gaps, including standards for sustainable finance. 

There are two main areas where the ICC identifies specific needs for additional standards, both of which focus on easing and increasing digital transformation of trade finance: uniform data models and API standards. API standards constitute an immediate need because many banks currently suggest that the lack of such standards inhibits their ability to develop strategies for API usage in their operations.

Finally, it creates operational playbooks for market participants that embody the full set of standards. The consolidation of standards and protocols into the interoperability layer will occur with full knowledge of the challenges that prevent or hinder participation by entities with fewer resources or credit histories. With simplified access to the trade finance system, more players at every level will be able to join. 

As for governance, the ICC envisions an industry organization or consortium overseeing the development, implementation, and ongoing management of the interoperability layer. The governing body should include participants from all functions, regions, and company sizes.

How does the interoperability layer benefit MSMEs?

The interoperability layer has benefits for all market participants, but the impact for MSMEs is particularly notable. With new standards and processes for assessing transaction risks, MSMEs will gain greater access to alternatives for credit and liquidity. 

Recent research suggests that traditional bank credit assessment models underperform newer tech-based models for determining creditworthiness. Applying real-time data and highly advanced analytical tools like AI, newer models provide a more timely and accurate assessment of a firm’s payment capabilities. In turn, better credit scoring results in more efficient allocation of resources, particularly for smaller firms like MSMEs.

In addition, new documentary standards and digitization of documentation requirements will reduce costs for all market participants. Because these costs disproportionately impact MSMEs, they will see the greatest benefit. But as finance processes become more streamlined and more participants enter the market, the large financial institutions will see corresponding revenue increases which, coupled with lower expenses, lead to higher profit.

Will the interoperability layer promote sustainable finance?

The ICC report recognizes that sustainability is an increasingly important issue for corporations and governments. However, there is currently a lack of standards for sustainable finance, including the lack of a commonly accepted vocabulary. One of the major tasks the ICC envisions is the creation of a standard taxonomy for sustainable finance that all market players can apply in future transactions. Once the market has a common language, it can better develop standards for applying the principles of sustainability in the global trade finance industry. 

Time will tell if the ICC proposal gains any traction. Further digitization is inevitable with or without the report. But building a common framework for the digitization that makes it easier for firms of all sizes to effectively participate in international trade is a valuable goal.



Whether you prefer to call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, there is no denying that industry is getting smarter. 

Summarized as the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using smart technologies, it is a seemingly unstoppable trend that has transformed enterprises, captured imagination and generated value. 

According to McKinsey, Industry 4.0 has the potential to provide returns of $3.7 trillion to manufacturers and suppliers around the world by as early as 2025. 

However, a caveat is that today only one in three companies are capturing this value at scale. 

“Approaches are dominated by envisioning technology development going forward rather than identifying areas of largest impact and tracking it back to Industry 4.0 value drivers,” McKinsey adds in its report, “Industry 4.0: Capturing Value at Scale in Discrete Manufacturing.”

“Further governance and organizational anchoring are often unclear. Resulting hurdles related to a lack of clarity regarding business value, limited resources and an overwhelming number of potential use cases leave the majority of companies stuck in ‘pilot purgatory.’

The report identifies several steps organizations can take to make the most out of the opportunities created by Industry 4.0 and its associated technologies. 

Chief among them is investing in human capability to leverage such innovations. 

Last year, the U.S. National Skills Coalition (NSC) reported an “invisible drag on productivity” created by an alarming digital skills gap. In the manufacturing sphere, one in three workers are thought to have no or limited key digital skills, according to research carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

Given that the NSC defines “limited digital skills” as an ability to complete simple tasks with a generic interface and few uncomplicated steps (like sorting emails into different folders), it is clear that a large portion of the current manufacturing workforce requires serious upliftment in digital literacy or risk being displaced by more tech-savvy recruits.

Education is the answer

For those about to join the manufacturing workforce, learning digital skills has never been more important. 

This rings especially true against the current coronavirus backdrop, with many industrial businesses having to make cutbacks as a result of drops in business and legal mandates to close as part of pandemic-induced societal lockdowns. 

It is something tech giants are responding to. For instance, in June 2020, Microsoft announced plans to provide free digital skills training to 25 million people around the world in response to predictions relating to a surge in unemployment. 

The speed and extent of economic recovery in part rests on how much productivity can be gained from Industry 4.0 activities, manufacturing being a key economic contributor to communities across the United States.

Education is a key enabler of productivity growth, be it through programs for upskilling current workers or training initiatives designed to ensure new generations of jobseekers are armed with the knowledge they need to hit the ground running.  

In Charlotte, North Carolina, this holds the key to unlocking the manufacturing sector’s bright future. The industry has grown here at twice the national average over the past five years with four clusters driving activity–machinery manufacturing, advanced materials, automotive manufacturing and energy manufacturing. 

“There are many synergies among these clusters,” explains Antony Burton, VP of Economic Research at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. “For example, 50 advanced materials firms in the textiles, plastics and composites industries serve the automotive industry in the Charlotte region which requires strong, durable, lightweight materials. 

“There is also synergy between the automotive and energy industry. Arrival, a leading electric vehicle manufacturer, has announced its North American HQ in Charlotte along with two micro-factory production facilities in the bi-state region.”

An enormous lithium deposit also feeds the area’s manufacturing scene. One of the largest such resources in the country, it has lured in major players in the lithium battery value chain and is supplemented by leading automotive and energy research assets at the Charlotte-based University of North Carolina. In short, the region is gearing up to lead and benefit from the transition to electric vehicles. This means new skills will be required to fully exploit the opportunity. 

“Manufacturing enterprises increasingly require a workforce with advanced industrial technology skills that include knowledge of mechatronics, robotics, and computer-aided machining as low-skill jobs are increasingly automated,” Burton adds. “In addition, manufacturing enterprises will require more engineering expertise. The Carolinas have over 7,000 graduates in engineering fields every year to help supply this pipeline of talent.

“It is crucial that the education programs continue to evolve to the needs of industry. Talent continues to be a top factor for location decisions, and the labor market has remained very tight throughout the country despite relatively high unemployment rates. To help provide this talent, along with the University of North Carolina, which has 600 engineering graduates, we have a strong community college system made up of 10 community and technical colleges with a total of 30 locations throughout the region.”  

Burton also cites the North Carolina Motorsports and Automotive Research Center as a unique training asset. Here, the next generation of automotive engineers are trained through a series of partnerships with key industry manufacturers, collaborations which conduct research and drive innovation in the sector. 

COVID-19, without doubt, has presented obstacles to delivering the sort of hands-on training the manufacturing sector requires. However, Burton points to virtually hosted events and research conducted by The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance as examples of its ongoing support for the industry.

“With state and local economic development partners, we organized STREAM 2021, a supply chain tradeshow which brought together manufacturers across the region to learn from industry experts and to help manufacturers find local suppliers,” he says. “In February of 2021, this inaugural event created a virtual opportunity for local manufacturers and suppliers to network and potentially work together to restore supply chains, especially in a time when COVID-19 has disrupted traditional supply chains. 

“Our economic research team also completed a deep-dive analysis of the manufacturing industry in the region and a manufacturing labor and wage survey. The report, “Manufacturing in the Charlotte Region,” provides business intelligence to the local community and to prospective companies.”  

Due west, in Kansas, Franklin County represents one of the top markets in the country for industrial and business development thanks to easy access to Interstate 35, Interstate 70, Logistics Park Kansas City and the Kansas City International Airport, as well as inclusion in the Foreign Trade Zone.

Paul Bean is executive director of Franklin County Development Council, a body which helps businesses to establish themselves and thrive in the area. As well as the digital skills identified by Burton, Bean highlights the critical importance of attitudinal traits sought by his association’s membership base, and how Franklin County Development Council helps them to find the right people.  

“Soft skills are the number one request,” he says. “They report to us that they can train folks but need people that show up, think critically, and are willing to work.

“We work closely with our area school districts, community colleges and private universities to provide programming to support our manufacturing industry. For example, we are just kicking off an online program through Nepris, which helps connect educators and learners to industry professionals. We’re also beginning the process of becoming an ACT Work Ready Community, and work with local higher education institutions on specific programs for new certifications and learning refreshment.”  

Charlotte and Franklin County are just two examples of regions investing in the next-generation workforce. Activity is also taking place at a federal level, supported by former President Trump’s pledges to prioritize homegrown industries. For example, June 2020 saw the launch of a new workforce training grant with several hundred million dollars for states to access. Unveiled by then Education Secretary Betsey DeVos, the scheme supports job training for in-demand occupations and entrepreneurship development. 

“America’s colleges and universities are a national treasure, but it is time for them to reinvent themselves and to be more responsive to the needs of their students and local communities,” DeVos said at the time of the launch. 

Through a mix of national incentives underpinned by bustling activity and support driven at a regional level, the manufacturing labor force has every chance of being future-proofed. Education lies at the heart of this transition and must continue to be substantially invested in if vital American industries are to remain competitive on the global stage.



The supply chain has been given a new blend of market disruptions in the past year. Beyond the obvious pandemic, digital commerce surges and new expectations for next-day delivery have some inventory managers scrambling to keep up with demand while meeting expectations in performance and operations.

Inevitably, cost management goes hand in hand with achieving competitive consumer satisfaction results, so this adds another layer of stress for the team to maintain. Of course, none of this matters if the product is unavailable, and if the status of goods is unknown for extended periods of time, the lack of visibility alone can quickly diminish any chance of maintaining a competitive edge. 

So, what does it take, then? Tom Martucci, chief technology officer at Consolidated Chassis Management, shares that previously held ideals toward inventory management have shifted.

“Inventory management, which was primarily driven by just-in-time philosophies before COVID, has evolved,” Martucci said. “The realization of disruption and the need for ‘buffer stock’ is no longer seen as a luxury but a necessity, particularly in asset management. The operational degradation, lost sales and recovery costs have proven far more impacting than any savings from keeping stocks ‘tight.’ Most companies will now reconsider these old philosophies, with more consideration given to service continuity.”

So, what can be done to better understand what is needed for that competitive advantage everyone in the industry is aiming to achieve? It starts with appropriate asset management. Martucci shares that assets–primarily their utilization and costs–need to be approached with a different philosophy in mind.

“The lessons over the past year have shown us that we must consider a portion of our assets as ‘buffer stock’,” Martucci explains. “The costs of these assets need to be included with the overall pricing philosophies, where I believe these small increases, clearly explained to the stakeholders, are much more easily accepted than massive disruptions and recovery costs. As always, there needs to be dialogue between seller and buyer to assure there are clear expectations and deliverables.”

Technology fulfills a critical role in supporting proactive inventory management initiatives, especially for those warehouse managers struggling to keep up with unpredictable demand trends. The important thing to remember here is the level of visibility provided by the technology implemented. By successfully gathering critical information and data, managers are not left with risky assumptions and guesses. 

“Technology drives visibility, and visibility is a necessity for efficient inventory management,” Martucci says. “In the same way that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, I believe you can’t manage what you can’t ‘see’ in terms of asset visibility via solid technology. On the cutting edge of this evolution is the adaptation of GPS tracking and telematics of the asset itself. No longer will companies need to rely on and ‘hard reader’ verification of the asset’s location. On-board technology will not only be able to tell us where the equipment is, but also the physical condition of the asset. This will promote more efficient use and a higher degree of safety.”

Consolidated Chassis Management takes asset management and amplifies it. The key part of what makes the company’s solutions competitive is not only the amount of data provided, but also the right kind of data it gathers and manages. What makes CCM a highly competitive chassis pool manager is found at the core of CCM’s mission that embraces an inclusive and extended stakeholder reach while maximizing principles of quality, availability, flexibility, efficiency, sustainability and neutral management.

“Our technology division created our CIT platform with asset management as its core mission,” Martucci says. “The technology was developed to manage the assets within the CCM chassis pools, and we recently introduced it as a fleet management solution for other companies needing an equipment management solution. The underlying design of our technology includes logging and tracking the number of different metrics throughout the various supply chain processes. We consider our systems very data-rich, which provides us the visibility needed to effectively manage the assets.”

Additionally, CCM takes into consideration how the market is evolving and proactively prepares to adapt solutions for optimal customer support and add a level of flexibility for the customer. Adding to their focus on quality, Martucci explains that changes are in the works for advancing data integration capabilities in the near future.

“Although we are currently reliant on EDI and APIs for data sharing, we are preparing our APIs for the emerging evolution of GPS-Telematics which positions us to seamlessly integrate the new data into our applications and data warehouse,” he says. “These tools are highly flexible resources our management teams use in assuring the assets are where they are supposed to be and are maintained at the highest level.”

From traditional asset management philosophies to advanced technology integrations, Martucci makes it clear that going back to the basics of asset management is at the core of any inventory management approach. Without these key functions of a business within the supply chain, there is simply too much room for error if the goal is to remain competitive. 

“This starts with having a clear visibility as to where the assets are and what their condition is,” Martucci says. “Accepting that consistency is the forerunner of efficiency, establishing clear asset management processes and procedures is a key foundational element. Maintaining a clear set of business metrics that drive and support these business processes is a must; as we’ve said, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure–or see in this case.” 

If your company made it through the past 12 months, consider what brought it to the other side of the pandemic and this new era of digital commerce. If there are still holes in your organization’s management approach, the time to rebuild the groundwork of your strategy is now. An important takeaway is that traditional philosophies – not antiquated methods, can be what sets your company apart from competitors. 


Tom Martucci is vice president and chief technology officer at Consolidated Chassis Management, where he is responsible for the identification of CCM’s computing needs as well as designing and enhancing CCM’s software suite to meet today’s market needs. He has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, with responsibilities ranging from technical development of applications to developing IT strategies for several large corporations. Prior to joining CCM, he was the chief information officer with Interpool Inc., where he managed separate IT departments for servicing the leasing business and the design and development of Trac’s Poolstat system. Tom attended Iona College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Management and minoring in Computer Science. He recently attained a certificate in Executive Training for High Performance at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. 

machine manufacturers

Want to Make Progress on Digital Transformation? Start With Machine Maintenance.

Machines are at the heart of manufacturing. They affect every aspect of production — efficiency, output, quality, consistency — and form the basis of manufacturing performance. So it comes as no surprise that many use cases for digital transformation in manufacturing focus on machinery. It’s where the transformation manifests itself.

How it manifests itself is more complicated than it seems, however. Some may think that the primary goal of digital transformation in manufacturing is to make machines better at their intended purposes — by using digital technology to help them run faster, longer, or with greater precision. This is one goal, but digital transformation is also about much more than that. Another crucial component is giving machines new capabilities and greater purpose.

Here’s an example: When machines are equipped with internet-connected sensors that can collect machine health data and send it to a centralized platform, then each machine becomes an indicator of the overall health of the production line. Studying the parts reveals the condition of the whole, whether that’s a single production line, an entire factory, or a global supply chain.

This wasn’t possible prior to the new technologies of industry 4.0 because manufacturers had no way to monitor machine health remotely and comprehensively. But it’s possible now, and it’s changing expectations around digital transformation in manufacturing.

Driving Digital Transformation of Machine Maintenance

With additional machine capabilities should also come a rethinking of the role of maintenance technicians. They’re not just the on-site problem-solvers anymore — they’re the ones who move digital transformation forward as they keep machines up, running, and evolving. Technicians may not be the architects of digital transformation in manufacturing, but they are the drivers of it.

In that context, it’s time to consider upgrading the roles of the technicians closest to the machines. The maintenance of the past isn’t appropriate for the factories of the future. Technicians need new skills, tools, and processes to leverage the advanced capabilities being added to machines. They also need a new mindset, mission, and role within the factory. To put it differently, maintenance technicians need to transform as much as the machines they work on. Here’s how manufacturing leaders can help:

1. Change Your Mindset From Maintenance to Risk Avoidance

In the past, when technicians serviced machines because of a breakdown or because of a service schedule, the entire focus was on minimizing machine downtime. Fewer failures and faster fixes meant the maintenance department was doing its job.

Instead of focusing on solving problems after they occur, however, maintenance teams should focus on preventing them. When maintenance sees its primary purpose as risk avoidance, it puts everything technicians do into a new perspective. The team is focused on intervening early and effectively so that minor issues don’t develop into downtime.

Risk avoidance (rather than minimization) is possible when maintenance teams shift from reactive and preventive maintenance, which lag behind problems, to predictive and prescriptive maintenance, which lead ahead of them. Machine health monitoring sensors make that possible while also showing the maintenance team where, when, why, and how their agile efforts helped to prevent disasters.

2. Think About Digitizing Maintenance as a Skill Set Upgrade, Not Just Another Tool

Digital transformation in manufacturing is about more than just adding a bunch of new digital tools to your technicians’ tool belts. If you just give them better ways to do what they were already doing, you won’t see dramatic improvements from digital transformation efforts.

Instead, think of digitization as more than a bonus tool. Think of it holistically as a whole skill set upgrade for your team. Digital tools will allow maintenance technicians to spend less time on menial, repeatable tasks and transition that energy instead to higher-value knowledge work like prescriptive maintenance that can keep machines running better for longer.

3. Improve Your Collaboration Capabilities

Digital transformation in manufacturing maintenance is largely about improving collaboration capabilities. Maintenance teams are using technology to help them spread their resources around as quickly, widely, and effectively as possible. All three of those depend on maintenance teams working collaboratively.

In practice, that means each technician, team, and site has access to the same data and alerts. Everyone works from a single source of truth so that wires don’t get crossed, warnings never get ignored, and resources move everywhere efficiently. However digital transformation affects maintenance, increased collaboration should be the goal.

Every day, digital transformation in manufacturing becomes a bigger priority. Many manufacturers will discover that in their race to digitize, they forgot to update maintenance at the same pace. Those that do the opposite will discover something as well: Digitizing maintenance propels the broader transformation effort forward because it allows machines to do more than they ever have.


Artem Kroupenev is VP of Strategy at Augury, where he oversees product, market, innovation, and ecosystem strategy. He has over a decade of experience driving the adoption of disruptive technologies and has previously co-founded companies in the United States, Israel, and West Africa.


Nium Announces Launch of Global Digitized Payment Solution for Maritime Companies

Nium recently announced the launch of its maritime payment solution, focusing on digitized payment options for shipping companies, management, seafarers, and their families. According to information released by the leading global payments platform, the payment solution – known as the Nium Pay app, utilizes the company’s global license network to successfully integrate the technology stack for real-time payroll disbursements, vendor payments, eWallet services, and remittances.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), integrated maritime service leader, is the first to use Nium’s maritime payment solution for their Spend Management Process. The solution includes the launch of BSM branded multi-currency Visa debit cards and eWallet services for their seafarer population. This also includes a supplementary Visa card available for the seafarer’s families.

“Technology development in the shipping industry is accelerating as shipping companies and their seafarers seek modern ways of moving money,” said Gitesh Athavale, Head of Sales, South East Asia and Hong Kong. “Our maritime payments solution provides an efficient and cost-saving way for shipping company management to digitalize payments, including disbursing payroll and making vendor payments. Their seafarers benefit from a convenient and modern way to send and receive money simply or spend it on board – all through the convenience of one simple app.”

The Nium Pay app allows shipping companies to disburse salary payouts directly to seafarers’ virtual visa card accounts. Crew members can directly access their wages from anywhere in the world while at sea or inland, send money overseas, process card to card transfers, shop online, and use their Nium Virtual Cards with mobile wallets onboard through the Nium Payment Application.

“It is important to us that our crew and their families are well taken care of, especially during these uncertain times when our crews are not allowed to go ashore and cannot physically remit funds back home,” shared BSM Finance Manager, Dennis Moehlmann. “Now with this new digital payment solution from Nium, no matter which part of the world our crews are at in that moment, funds can be transferred in an instant and their families will receive the transferred money immediately on their supplementary card or their home account. This is the peace of mind we want to give to our crew.”

Through this application, Nium approaches traditional payment issues for maritime companies by combining its “Pay In” and “Pay Out” capabilities. This enables shipping companies to:

-Reduce or even eliminate the use of cash on ships through QR payments

-Launch branded e-wallets with Card Payments, Remittance, Multi Currency functionality and Travel Insurance services

-Apply exclusive rates for inter and intra company cross-border payments (fund transfers can be done regardless of Internet connectivity)

-Comply with payroll and delivery and international banking regulations, including Philippines’ Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) ruling regarding seafarer payments

-Easily track remittance payments

-Send payments in real-time

Additionally, Pay-Outs are currently being offered to more than 100 countries, of which, 65+ in real-time, available to bank accounts, Visa/UnionPay cards, and AliPay wallets.

digital transformation

The Digital Highway: How to further your company’s digital transformation through a shared digital space

As 2020 forced companies to move their employees largely from shared offices to individual home offices, the exchange of digital information became even more vital and the process of digital transformation was accelerated. Without the ability to physically interact with a printed document in a group setting, collaboration has moved to a virtual space and the digital exchange of documents, whether that be via email, remote conferencing solutions, or shared cloud solutions, is more common than ever.

When thinking about a company’s shared digital space, consider it a digital highway, with documents and information zipping around between users and being shared across two opposing directions. This framework encourages enterprising companies to think of this shift to the digital exchange of information in terms of an on-ramp and off-ramp and then determine how they are best enabling employees to get important information on and off that digital highway.

Determining employee needs

Before deciding on how to implement the digital transformation for your organization, consider how information is being shared currently. Does your sales team print out each contract for a signature and then save the hard copy? What about HR paperwork? If you have transitioned to an online onboarding solution, hard copies of W-2s might not be printed in your office anymore. Determining how your organization is currently sharing information and the pain points of that sharing will help define the best way to digitize moving forward.

Getting on the digital highway – from paper to digital

How does information get on the digital highway within an organization? While some documents are created digitally and stay digital throughout their lifecycle, others exist in the physical world on paper, such as signed documents, written notes, reports, contracts, and forms. Scanning those documents from paper to digital is the on-ramp onto the digital highway. When users can’t walk over to their colleague’s cubicle to share the document, file it away in a file cabinet, or drop the file into interoffice mail, the file must be digitized.

Digitizing physical paper makes archiving documents much more efficient, eliminating excess paper files and the need for filing cabinets or storage. For example, a doctor has endless files on all their patients and needs to be able to quickly access those files at any given moment. Having these files digitized makes it possible to find a patient’s file at the click of a button, instead of thumbing through a physical file cabinet to find a paper version. Furthermore, the doctor can also edit this file digitally, adding notes after a patient’s visit or updating their list of medications.

Getting off the digital highway – from digital to paper

Conversely, sometimes information needs to get off the digital highway. Taking an existing document that exists only digitally and making a real-world copy is an often-cited requirement for many industries. Some contracts still require a “wet signature.” Some documents can only be productively reviewed if printed. Some customers and clients may expect or even need physical delivery of paperwork. And even if it’s not a requirement, certainly hardcopy it is a preference for some. Moreover, looking at screens is a drain on the eyes and mind, while interacting with paper can be more productive in many cases.

Printed documents are still very much a part of business transactions today, and many industries still require physical copies for their records or legal reasons. Take the real estate business, for example, which utilizes both digital and physical documents. As a buyer goes through the steps of closing on their new home, they may sign paperwork digitally via applications like DocuSign. This digital paperwork allows the process to keep moving regardless of where the homeowners live in relation to the seller or real estate agent, but upon closing on the home, homeowners receive a physical copy of these documents, an important step in archiving and solidifying the process. The homeowner can then maintain a complete file with copies of all the paperwork that was signed during the transaction with the seller. Homeowners are encouraged to keep a physical copy of this paperwork for several years even after they sell this home so they can easily reference or review it, or use it in the event that they need to file a legal claim.

Choosing the right solutions

Technological advances, such as mobile print and scan apps, connect the digital and physical worlds within a company’s technological ecosystem from an easily accessible device like a cell phone. Companies that take full advantage of technology such as this can enable their employees a simple interchange between the digital and the physical worlds from a device in which every employee is already armed with. Those that started using these technologies prior to the pandemic were poised for a better transition and will continue to be in today’s changing work environments, compared to those that have focused solely on digital or solely on physical information exchange.

There are substantial benefits to both employees and employers in connecting the digital and physical worlds. For one, solutions that connect these two worlds streamline workflow in any industry, increasing the efficiency and productivity of employees. They further an organization’s digital transformation while ensuring simple solutions for employees that don’t require extensive IT knowledge. They also create business resiliency by maintaining some normalcy for employees who have different job functions and require different equipment. Increasingly we are seeing companies investing more in at-home set-ups and in the future, printing and scanning solutions could be part of that setup. And the companies that give more time and energy to their digital transformations will best be set up for the changing future of our workplaces and work environments.


Top Three Lessons from the Food Transformation Industry

The food industry has learned more from the pandemic than it bargained for. The pandemic taught us some important lessons about improving quality, paying attention to employee and partner safety, and working regularly and consistently with suppliers. The past 12 months have been focused on response and short-term solutions. Many companies found that their operations and supply chains were not prepared to handle unpredictable peaks, and supplier pools lacked flexibility and diversity. Manual logistics processes similarly did not show the flexibility and speed of results needed, and it was difficult to make the quick decisions needed to keep businesses, customers and employees safe. With uncertainties in the safety of food imports and the functioning of restaurants in 2020, food and beverage companies were suddenly faced with new challenges.

Prevention is better than the cure

As the Covid-19 crisis set, a crisis in the supply chain followed, triggered by people’s responses to the spread of the virus, such as panic buying, which submitted the supply chain to an unusual stress, and eventual disruption. As the situation evolved, it became clear that digital transformation and technology upgrades were actions that could not be delayed if you wanted to make decisions based on actual live data.

In preparing for the future, we shift from “responding to challenges” to proactive action. First and foremost, you need a selection of technology solutions that support scalable and transparent processes. There’s a lot of talk about predictive analytics and supply chain modeling solutions these days, but the first step in this process is always the implementation of operational management systems and data exchange systems.

By standardizing your processes and transforming your technology, you can create a system that lays the groundwork for staying ahead of the competition, improving efficiency and preparing for long-term growth. Here are a few ways to get started:

First: Think about continuous quality control.

Food-related industries need to rely on a dynamic system that shows how your business is performing every day. It’s time to set goals for maintaining continuous quality control with your suppliers, within your own walls and in every part of the supply chain.

The first step is to look at all the software or technology you’re using now to see if you can consolidate or eliminate point solutions or irrelevant applications. Once you have a clear picture, you can ask if your systems can “talk” to each other and connect all decision data into a single source of truth. This helps eliminate siloed data and improves communication.

To give examples based on our company’s portfolio of solutions, the WMS system features automatic tracking of expiration dates, including residual expiration dates based on customer requirements. And personal customer accounts based on Generix Supply Chain Visibility provide data on availability products at various points in the supply chain, both in warehouses and in transit.

Second: Move away from manual processes.

How many times has a document or other data been “lost” in email or file-sharing folders? How many times have you worked extra hours to put together a report manually from multiple spreadsheets?

It’s time to let technology take over most of your administrative and routine work. It’s time for the food industry to stop relying on paper, spreadsheets and other manual tools. Chapman’s Ice Cream was enabled to effectively track their ingredients throughout the supply chain thanks to automation, and thus had the data required to react quickly to changes in consumer preferences and protect food safety. During the early days of the pandemic, John Fleming reports in a recent webinar that Chapman’s used the real-time data provided by their WMS to anticipate the supply of their ingredients and manage their customers’ expectations accordingly.

It’s important to remember that modernization doesn’t exclude people from processes. It is the use of human-centered technology that reduces human error, reduces administrative work and improves results. Certainly, you will have to invest in innovation, but technology creates efficiency and transparency that will ultimately save you time and money. Chapman’s for example, were able to reduce losses by gaining real-time visibility over their inventory.

Generix offers its customers an end-to-end process implementation based on the Generix Supply Chain Hub solution. All modules of the solution are interconnected by an integration bus to which you can connect your accounting system (ERP) and other applications in use.

Third: Upgrade your supplier management practices.

Integrating new suppliers and working with existing ones comes with many challenges. Emails go unanswered, contract renewal dates are often missed. Updating certificates, documents and audit results is a chore, to say the least. In addition, supply disruptions during the pandemic may have prompted you to diversify your supply chain. To summarize, working with suppliers is a lot of communication, paperwork and dates to keep track of. In addition, you are responsible for making sure your suppliers meet government and industry standards.

Using vendor relationship management software makes it easier for all parties, allowing everyone to work faster and more collaboratively. Supplier contacts, certification submittals and audit results are all centralized in one place, allowing you to work quickly and accurately to develop and renew contracts. Automated renewal reminders eliminate routine monitoring or worrying about updating a common Excel file on time.

Our company’s portfolio includes different level solutions to standardize work with suppliers: SCV based supplier accounts for goods and services, EDI based supplier portal solution, Generix Collaborative Replenishment for VMI based work. Our company methodology allows us to develop onboarding packages for fast integration of new vendors.

To Summarize

Modernization of systems makes sense both competitively and financially. However, in my opinion, the most compelling reason to upgrade is the well-being of your employees. In these volatile times, they are doing more with the same or even fewer resources, taking on more workload, which can lead to faster and harder burnout. If you can do more to support your employees and their effectiveness, you will achieve better results in the long run.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. From Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and more, software platforms can deliver a wide range of benefits that ultimately flow to the warehouse operator’s bottom line. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.