At the annual SCLA (Supply Chain Leaders in Action) meeting in Sanibel, Florida, Intelligent Audit CEO Hannah Testani sat down with Helen Atkinson, Senior Editor of logistics industry publication Supply Chain Brain to discuss the state of the supply chain, sustainability, and the future of supply chain innovations.
Asked about recent changes in the supply chain, Testani, who first joined Intelligent Audit as Chief Operational Officer before taking on the role of CEO in 2021, noted the effect of pandemic-era disruptions as a leading cause of change within the global logistics industry. "There's been a huge increase in demand, and supply is at an all-time low, said Testani, "We saw a lot of companies that used to be able to ship items via ocean, which is longer, cheaper, but for the most part was always reliable [...] Now those [ocean shipping] costs are 3, 4, 5 times what they used to be." Testani counts the rise in ocean shipping costs as a leading contributor to a shifting mindset within the global logistics industry. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic and the ensuing supply chain complications, carriers worked with a 'just-in-time' mindset, in which logistics providers operated on a thin razors edge between profitability and timely delivery; since the pandemic, carriers are working to maintain a 'just-in-case' mindset, where preemptive action is necessary to adapt to inevitable disruptions.
Despite the challenges of a supply chain still recovering from the effects of COVID-19, Testani makes clear that it's not all bad news for the logistics industry. For supply chain professionals, Testani has words of encouragement, as well as advice: "I think it is the best time to be on the supply chain professional side [...] anyone who works for a company, a shipper, retailer, manufacturer [...] they are needed now more than ever. And when you are needed, you're going to get paid more, you're going to be valued more." As customer's struggle to find the affordable, reliable shipping they need, those that can provide stand-out service are being noticed. However, in today's crowded logistics marketplace, supply chain professionals can't take customer loyalty (or revenue) for granted. As Testani said to Atkinson, "That being said, they need to show up, and they need to perform. They need to produce results."
The industry-leading technology embraced by Intelligent Audit isn't just for operational efficiency. Innovation also helps shippers meet a growing demand for sustainable supply chain operations among a customer base hungry for eco-friendly logistics. "They hate having to come home and get multiple boxes from the same location or different carriers. They want innovation there," Testani said, addressing the appetite for sustainable operations among a younger customer base, "So I think the more you can do to be more profitable on the home delivery side, as well as more sustainable, there's gonna be a demand for that." Through the use of innovative consolidation strategies in ground logistics, Testani argues, shippers can bolster their bottom line while appealing to an increasingly environmentally-minded customer base. However, as Testani makes sure to remind listeners, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' solution to solve the global supply chain's emissions problem: as she said to Atkinson, "There is so much out there that can be done to remove and reduce that carbon footprint."
For supply chain professionals looking to improve results, Testani recommends embracing technology to meet the unprecedented demand of an over-strained supply chain. Many of the issues the global freight industry is facing today, Testani argues, are a result of the volume overload that came about as a result of the post-COVID logistics industry. Faced with unprecedented volumes, shippers have been forced to innovate, and fast. "We're at 2030 volumes in 2022", Testani said, "if you think about what all those professionals would have invested in those 10 years, it would've been a lot of technology."
As carriers struggle to remain competitive in a high-stakes logistics environment, many are turning to innovative logistics solutions to provide their customers with the lightning-fast service they expect. By moving past traditional last-mile strategies, old-guard logistics providers can find new purpose in a logistics landscape dominated by eCommerce. "I would love to see USPS there be the consolidator," Testani said of the potential for innovation in the last mile, "all those shipments go to one hub and then they get sent to you. You could predict it." Through the use of consolidation hubs, shipper's could not only simplify their logistics processes, but could offer their customers the accurate ETA's they demand.
But for Testani, innovation doesn't stop at the last-mile. Asked about the potential of automation and artificial intelligence within the next decade, Testani said, "There is so much that can be done through machine learning that humans just can't do, and don't want to do [...] I think anytime you can invest in digitization as well as using best in class AI to help you, makes sense." For Testani, machine-learning and artificial intelligence aren't just an exciting prospect in an increasingly tech-forward supply chain management industry, but a vital asset in Intelligent Audit's pursuit of operational optimization. "That's where we're investing heavily," Testani said, "and we see so much opportunity."
In a complex global logistics landscape, today's supply chain professionals need all the help they can get to avoid exceptions. Intelligent Audit's proprietary machine learning and anomaly detection gives shippers the insight and awareness they need to catch every exception. Start a conversation with Intelligent Audit today, and see what optimized operations can offer your business.
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