Understanding the Cloud - GLM puts 10 Questions to Greg Kefer, VP of Marketing at GT Nexusby From the Top on 2012-11-09
The "Cloud" is a term that is becoming more and more prevalant across the Logistics and Supply Chain industry, so in order to understand it better we put 10 questions to VP of Corporate Marketing at GT Nexus Greg Kefer.
1) The term “The Cloud” is a phrase we are becoming familiar with, however how does this term relate to the Supply Chain?
At the highest level, cloud is defined as the use of computing resources that are provided by a third party as a service over the Internet. In supply chain, this delivery model becomes exceptionally powerful because the very nature of supply chain management is about managing processes involving multiple companies. This has proven not to be the domain of installed software, which is designed for the single company. The only way to get entire trading partner networks all on the same information page is through the use of common, universal, always-on technology like the Internet, or “The Cloud.”
2) For most companies their Supply Chain is becoming more and more complex so it is critical for a company to ensure the have the right data and intelligence to make critical decisions. What tools can GT Nexus provide customers to increase their Supply Chain Visibility?
There are lots of visibility software tools on the market, but most underestimate a critical component – the information network. The network is what connects partners and standardizes the all-important data – the “fuel” that makes visibility software work. The supply chain visibility applications on the GT Nexus platform come with a global network of partners, which helps customers get up and running quickly with very high data quality levels. With the right information, customers can model supply chain behavior, manage by exception and use dynamic ETAs to keep customers informed and stay agile.
3) Investing in Supply Chain Technology can often be expensive and time consuming—how does GT Nexus technology ensure companies can adapt and remain agile to changing Supply Chain conditions?
This is one of the core problems with traditional software. Companies spend years and millions of dollars customizing and hard wiring their supply chains. Then things suddenly change and they need to start over. Because GT Nexus is cloud-based, networks can be reconfigured rapidly and at a fraction of the cost. Partners can be switched on and off quickly and capabilities can be configured on the fly to meet changing market conditions.
4) There are certain critics out there who are cautious about data security when implementing Cloud Networking Solutions, how does GT Nexus ensure the security of data?
This is not an issue today. If you simply look at the companies running their supply chains on GT Nexus – such as Pfizer, Xerox and CAT – they represent the biggest, most successful enterprises on the planet. All customers conduct exhaustive due diligence on security and infrastructure before signing on with GT Nexus.
5) When should a company consider Cloud Based Technology?
If they can’t get the status of any shipment, order, document or inventory from any point in their global supply chain within ten seconds, they need to look at cloud technology because they are operating blindly.
6) What are the critical factors a company should consider when considering a Cloud Networking Platform?
Make sure the vendor has a strong network and data strategy, and do not get seduced by fancy screen shots and demos. Multi-tenancy is also very important. Many vendors will offer to host their software for a customer, in a private single tenant environment. While this approach is a step in the cloud direction, it comes up short. The customer gains tremendous value in a multi-tenant environment that is shared by other companies, who are all collectively driving innovation, data quality and industry adoption.
7) Can GT Nexus customize its Technology to suit specific customer requirements; if so can Nexus also offer this technology to existing customers?
Yes. For example, GT Nexus has large customers in every business vertical: Pfizer in pharmaceuticals, CAT in manufacturing, Sears in retail, Lenovo in high tech, American Eagle Outfitters in apparel, Celanese in Chemicals, Nestle in CPG, DHL in logistics – these are all very different supply chains, yet these customers all share a single platform and a single line of software code, in the cloud. This is the ultimate example of flexibility.
8) What specific benefits have your customers seen as a result of implementing GT Nexus Technology?
Some of the benefits include several days less inventory in the supply chain, five to 10% transportation cost savings, three to five times in supply chain velocity, reduced bank fees, disaster avoidance (Japan Earthquake) are a few, but there are literally hundreds of hard and soft benefits that we document with customers.
9) Do you see a day where Cloud Technology becomes standard across the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry, if so what would you say to companies reluctant to implement Cloud Technology?
Definitely, yes. The industry desperately needs a standard but it isn’t going to come through some industry association mandate. That has been tried many times over. Technology will be the master translator. Fortunately, we are well on our way and it’s not a matter of “if” but rather “when.” For companies still sitting on the sidelines, I would encourage them to get engaged with cloud technology immediately or they will be left behind. There are now multiple documented examples of major successes with cloud technology in the supply chain and those can serve as templates for getting started. One such example is Pfizer who recently spoke about their success with cloud technology with the Financial Times here:
10) Technology has paved the way for companies to enter off shore markets, mainly through the utilization of 3pl’s and e-commerce platforms. Do you think there is a place for Cloud Technology to make collaboration easier for companies to expand globally?
Absolutely. Companies are no longer just sourcing and manufacturing globally, they are selling into new off shore too. And technology will continue to separate winners from laggards. Just look around the world and you will find entire continents of opportunity –the race has already begun. Companies have two choices from an IT perspective: they can either spend years on a big IT project investing in hardware, software, EDI networks and consultants to do it they old way, or they can move their supply chain to the cloud and tap into an existing network of partners and a full suite of fully deployed, working solutions that will literally turn the lights on across their value chains.
About GT Nexus
GT Nexus offers a cloud-based platform that the world's biggest companies use to drive efficiency and agility across the global supply chain. Leaders in manufacturing, retail and logistics services all share GT Nexus as their standard, multi-enterprise collaboration platform. Users operate against a core set of information across multiple supply chain functions to optimize the flow of goods and trade information, from order point to final payment. Customers include Xerox, Williams-Sonoma, Nestlé, DHL, Sears, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods and The Home Depot. For information, visit www.gtnexus.com
About Global Logistics Media
Global Logistics Media delivers all of the latest breaking news, information and opportunities impacting the logistics sectors of the world's leading economies, including the USA, Asia, India, the United Kingdom and Australia. GLM is your competitive edge, which is the ability to know what is happening when it happens, and how you can use this vital information to move your business forward. www.globallogisticsmedia.com