Logistics management and the Cloud Computing impact

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Over the last few years, the spurt in the number of companies in the freight and courier sectors across the country has made logistics management imperative. In order to ensure deliveries are handled in an efficient manner, logistics management plays a critical role in offering solutions that factor in the needs and challenges of those involved.

In India, while a couple of the organised players are implementing technology solutions within their network, the bulk of players are devoid of technology. Technology here acts as an enabler and a medium of integrating, communicating and bringing about overall efficiencies that are utterly lacking adoption in the logistics sector.

Any smart logistics service these days requires synchronization between various modes of communication as well as a need to keep a tab on how the movement of goods and their handling are being monitored. Any logistics unit worth it’s salt must need to keep a tab on the millions of transactions that happen at any given period of time. This is where the importance of the cloud comes to the limelight.

According to a recent survey of supply chain professionals by Oracle, roughly one-third of respondents see cloud solutions as being a “game-changer” or providing a significant positive impact. While many have yet to adopt advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, professionals believe in their potential, and in fact, see these rising in importance over the next two years.

Cost containment, collaboration and visibility are the top challenges, which align well with the problems addressed by cloud software through enhanced information sharing, advanced analytics, and low-cost deployment. This leads toward a healthy future adoption of cloud logistics solutions.

Cloud-based applications are nimbler, faster and far more powerful than external IT data management systems, which allow for complex data processing and sharing. The ease and accessibility of such access points help one to retrieve and analyze inventory or transportation data to help make moment decisions based on real-time reporting.

Companies and freight management service providers can use these real-time reporting capabilities to track and locate products at any point in the manufacturing, distribution, or shipping cycles, which help get them a holistic view of the overall supply chain.

TMS (Transport management systems) have been on-premise for a couple of decades but in the past 5 years, the cloud is eating up this space at a massive rate. Most of the B2B solutions across sectors are moving to the cloud and this trend is bound to accelerate.

Some of the benefits of leveraging cloud computing are:

Scale: The inherent scalability of cloud computing solutions can be extremely beneficial for the logistics sector. These organisations deal with a huge demand shift which can be hard to handle without the right technology in place. With cloud computing solutions, it’s easy to scale up without wasting time, money or resources. This makes it easy for logistics organisations to enter new markets or launch new services easily and quickly. Cloud scalability helps develop dynamic supply chains.

Cost efficiency: Cloud-based logistics systems help in managing different aspects of operations in real-time make pricing scalable – hence reducing costs incurred. Companies have the opportunity of having access to current updates on relevant data. Due to the nature that cloud-based logistics operates as a pay-per-use model, it saves the cost of software maintenance and upgrades. Capital expenditure is drastically reduced due to little demand for on-site resources.

Onboarding: Cloud solutions help onboard new trading partners in days instead of weeks. With the onboarding of shippers, carriers, freight brokerages, and 3PLs, the cloud gives one the flexibility to meet varied customer requests or requirements by enabling any-to-any integrations and retaining flexible protocol connectivity.

Flexibility: In the logistics sector, the decision to move to the cloud normally stems from a financial perspective. Upfront costs are cheaper; there’s no need for huge investments in IT infrastructure and its upgrades or support requirements. Additionally, it is also quick and easy to add users into the online environment, no matter where they are.

Given the benefits that cloud computing has to offer, coupled with the increasing number of supply chain focused services, it is inevitable that logistics management and the sector will take up the cloud in operations in at least some form. Hence, there really isn’t a question about its future; rather about how much will companies leverage on its benefits for greater success.

(This article is written by Mradul K, VP – Global Sales and Strategy, LogiNext. The views expressed in this article are of the author.)

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