Leopard Systems Managing Director Alex Koumaras was featured in the Australian Financial Review on April 17th, 2023, discussing the impact of talent shortages and how technological advancement is driving change across the supply chain and logistics industries. See the original published article here.
As global supply chain disruptions are exacerbated by talent shortages across the economy, Australian organisations need to take a more holistic approach to enterprise mobility and logistics to meet growing customer expectations.
Logistics is an area that has traditionally been heavily reliant on headcount and manual processes. This delay in digitalisation and automation caught out many organisations when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but dealing with the immediate challenges of the pandemic left them unable to tackle improvements or invest in innovation.
As COVID restrictions ease, ongoing disruptions and increasing talent shortages are creating further logistics challenges that are stretching supply chains to breaking point.
Required to do more with less in difficult times, organisations are also faced with the additional challenge of growing customer expectations.
Today, B2B customers demand the same level of real-time insights into supply chains as B2C customers have come to expect when awaiting the delivery of shopping bought online.
In response to these challenges, many enterprises are planning to overhaul their supply chain strategies to become more resilient, sustainable and collaborative, according to Ernst & Young.
Supply chain visibility went from a top three priority in late 2020 to the number one priority in 2022, an Ernst & Young survey of senior-level supply chain executives revealed. To enhance their supply chains, these organisations plan to increase investment in a range of technologies including artificial intelligence, analytics and robotic process automation.
Agility, visibility, automation and upskilled people will be key, which together will drive not only cost reductions but also better decision-making, process standardisation and excellence across supply chains and clients’ ecosystem partners.
Historically, the solution to most supply chain and logistics issues for many organisations was simply to throw more people at the problem, says Alex Koumaras, managing director of enterprise mobility solutions provider Leopard Systems.
The skills shortage, which creates a greater reliance on inexperienced staff, has finally forced businesses to rethink this strategy, Koumaras says.
‘‘Today they’re busier and under more pressure than ever, but they don’t have the luxury of access to skilled talent in order to bolster their supply chain capabilities – instead they must leverage technology in order to get more out of the limited people and resources they have at their disposal,’’ he says.
‘‘Those organisations which are truly making the most of technology aren’t just using it to replicate old manual processes, to maintain business-as-usual in trying times; instead they’re actually unlocking technology’s full potential to transform the way they work.’’
Leopard Systems is Australia’s leading and most awarded enterprise mobility supplier, including twice being named Zebra Technologies’ APAC Partner of the Year and receiving the World Parcel & Post Technology Award.
It is strategically aligned with many other leading global technology companies including Intermec by Honeywell, SOTI, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, GEOTAB and SAP.
Leopard Delivery Cloud offers an enterprise-grade task management mobility solution for optimising delivery processes, while tools like Leopard Cube offer an accurate, ‘legal for trade measurement’ solution to address revenue leakage.
Adopting robust and scalable solutions is critical for organisations that have long relied on spreadsheets and manual processes to manage logistics challenges, Koumaras says. As the world becomes less predictable, new technology is the key to optimising efforts and minimising disruption.
‘‘I’ve lost count of the number of organisations that I’ve encountered, of all sizes, which still rely on a multitude of spreadsheets and siloed systems to handle logistics,’’ he says.
‘‘Along with forgoing the transformative potential of new technologies, they’re also leaving themselves exposed to data loss, human error and security concerns. Not only does a continued reliance on spreadsheets hold them back, it’s also a business risk when they’re likely relying on only a handful of staff who really understand the ins-and-outs of those mission-critical tasks.’’
Modernising systems helps mitigate these risks, while addressing talent shortages and creating a pathway for the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
‘‘The idea with the technologies is to free up staff, so they can spend less time on reactive tasks and more time on higher-value processes, which still require the human touch,’’ Koumaras says.
When it comes to meeting growing B2B customer expectations, real-time technologies such as the Internet of Things offer unprecedented insights as well as opportunities for tighter integration between partners along the supply chain.
While technology can address many logistics challenges, Koumaras says organisations must avoid the trap of implementing fragmented and siloed point solutions rather than taking a more unified approach.
Best of breed SaaS (software as a service) solutions often have the advantage over big bang one-size-fits-all solutions, but only if they are able to underpin a more holistic approach to meeting logistics and supply chain challenges.
‘‘From a mobility execution standpoint, you need a platform which bolts into these back-end systems, so you don’t need to worry about the complexity of running such a sizeable implementation out in the field,’’ Koumaras says.
‘‘The key is to ensure that all this technology is working in unison to make things easier for your people, not more complex.’’