The "-abilities" of Global Trade Management: Digital Platform Capabilities

Posted by Joe Gabro

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digital_platform_capabilities.jpgContinued from Part 1 of our "-abilities" series

Are your Digital Platform Capabilities ready to challenge business as usual?

The buzz among several prominent industry analysts lately has created a flurry of research around business success directly correlating to a company’s digital competency. Going digital is more than just spending a higher percent of revenue on IT; it matters where and how you spend your IT dollars. 

Gartner describes a world where you have systems with two modes – one is predictable, steady, and invariably aligned with your financial reporting. The second type is agile, innovative, and supports risk-taking; in short, a key enabler for new breakthrough business models that are reshaping industries.

If companies don’t start making the transition and driving digital to the core of their business, they may be at competitive disadvantage. In the retail industry, we have seen announced downsizings at Office Depot, Walgreens, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes and Noble, and The Gap. Furthermore, the recent bankruptcy of Sports Authority took many by surprise. This industry turmoil helps to illustrate some common perils of staying analog for too long:

  • New competitors (e.g. powerful brands) that effectively leverage e-commerce and utilize direct–to-consumer (DTC) strategies
  • Assortment and quality expectations that fall short of market expectations
  • Supply networks that can’t meet the cycle time and cost to serve objectives for a product
  • Design cycles that deliver products that are late to market and lack differentiation

To capitalize on the potential of digital, leaders need to shift the mode with the right set of technologies, business building blocks, and talent to guide a transformation.

Technology that is not your father’s ERP.  Don’t get trapped in Mode 1.0. Instead you need to think about cloud, leveraging business services, and supporting the process inter-connection requirements of your trading partners. Sophisticated document sharing, work flow, and collaborative tools underpin your apps and offer numerous ways to eliminate non-value added time.

Configurable business services to digitize your process.  With a platform that establishes business networks across your supply, logistics, and customs partners, you can now assemble collaborative processes with an eye to driving various growth objectives, for example:

  • Fast Fashion – by collapsing design, costing, and fulfillment lead-times
  • Product Quality – by extending quality processes to suppliers, enabling QC inspectors with mobile technology, and integrating third party testing firms
  • Lower Cost-to-Serve – by optimizing trade decisions and working with suppliers that have the first cost, capacity, and delivered quality needed for a given market
  • Fast Clearance – by tightly linking your trade compliance processes with fulfillment, and automating decisions with integrated regulatory content

Talent that can navigate the digital world.  The new digital economy is one that challenges companies to assemble teams with new skill sets. Can you analyze big data? Are you comfortable with software and able to configure systems? Do you know what all of the components of AWS do? It’s an exciting time for the technology savvy.

Major companies like GE and others are ramping up their digital efforts with a very visible public relations strategy. They aren’t alone. At Amber Road, we are working with many global enterprises advancing across this digital frontier, with projects that ultimately challenge business as usual. Our customers are also doing the same; just a few weeks ago Li & Fung COO Robert Sinclair was quoted in Sourcing Journal, “Digitization is not an end game, it’s just the beginning. Digitization of the supply chain and everything about your business is a fundamental requirement for survival. It’s only a vehicle, an enabler, to stay in the game.”

Interested in establishing an international eCommerce strategy to grow revenues globally? Download our new eBook, Three Imperatives for Global eCommerce, to learn about the three keys for delivering a positive global eCommerce experience.

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This post was published on August 1, 2016 and updated on August 1, 2016.

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Topics: Global Trade Management Software, GTM Best Practices, Global Trade Management