December 18, 2023 in ARTICLES
Seamless Supply Chain Integration and Strategic Partnerships
Hakan Yaren, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at APL Logistics, recently gave the keynote address at Axway Summit – North America. Axway, a pioneer leader in enterprise data integration, is a partner with APL Logistics for B2B Integration and Amplify Platform to facilitate our customers in meeting global consumer and industrial demands, regardless of the fulfillment channels they utilize. Below, Yaren provides insights into APL Logistics’ vision, strategic approach, and the challenges we face.
The COVID-19 pandemic undeniably thrust global supply chains into the forefront of public awareness. Prior to 2019, most consumers scarcely considered supply chain and logistics, perhaps holding only a vague mental image of warehouses, container ships, and railroads. Suddenly, the world’s aging infrastructure and often inflexible complexity were spotlighted and subjected to unprecedented pressure. At the same time, we also saw moments where unassuming heroes of logistics silently orchestrated the movement of life-saving goods across the globe.
At APL Logistics, these successes serve as the foundation of our mission – to facilitate the seamless global movement of goods and services for our customers. Our unwavering focus lies on the integration of logistics technology, with our IT teams playing a pivotal role in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of our customers’ supply chain operations.
Our Core Values: The Art of Seamless Integration
With 170 years of experience in supply chain logistics, we possess a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise that extends to the very terminologies and nomenclature used across various industries. We leverage this expertise to assist our customers in navigating their unique supply chain challenges.
Our commitment, what we refer to as a “Zero Distance to Customers” approach, is at the heart of what we do. We aim to make our collaboration with customers as seamless as possible, becoming an integral part of their processes. Our technology teams work hand in hand with customers because each situation, each industry, and each problem is unique, requiring tailored solutions.
One of our customers once paid us the highest compliment, saying, “When you work with APL Logistics, it’s not about you working for us. You’re working with us. You are part of our team. You don’t distinguish between what we do and what you do.” This aligns perfectly with Axway’s values, a key reason for our partnership.
In addition to our core values, we are dedicated to decarbonizing global supply chains, a goal shared by many of our customers.
Revamping and Distinguishing in the Logistics Industry
In the contemporary landscape of logistics, a substantial portion of the supply chain sector remains entrenched in outdated, manual, and fragmented methodologies. As we embark on our own digital transformation journey, we are confronted with a critical question: how can we transition towards digital, real-time, and interconnected supply chains?
At APL Logistics, our focus is centered on three key areas: automation, integration, and analytics. We contemplate ways to automate previously manual processes, bridge the gaps among disconnected elements, and harness data to derive more profound insights.
Our journey is ongoing, and we firmly believe in harnessing our ecosystem to chart our course, concentrating on our strengths along the way. Our primary areas of emphasis are data, integration, and automation. We collaborate closely with technology partners and providers such as Axway to implement their best-of-breed solutions on an enterprise scale.
It has become evident that technology alone cannot resolve issues or deliver the desired outcomes. Achieving success necessitates a blend of innovative technologies and expertise, particularly within the realm of supply chain operations.
The timeless mantra of “Process, People, Technology” continues to hold true. So, I like to sum up our digital transformation with the following six steps:
- Establish a clear vision and strategy.
- Implement an enterprise architecture and cultivate a product management discipline.
- Modernize while ensuring tangible business value.
- Eliminate data silos and empower through seamless data access.
- Harness the power of a top-tier API platform.
- Continuously refine and iterate the process.
Business Focused Strategy
Formulating a business-focused strategy is the cornerstone of our approach. It all begins with the core business strategy, which requires a clear alignment between it and the desired IT outcomes.
Our chosen perspective revolves around the customer experience journey. We diligently analyze where our customers encounter the most challenges when engaging with our business and proactively seek solutions.
When approaching our own IT modernization, we didn’t rush into cloud migration without due consideration. Instead, we meticulously examined the potential business value that cloud adoption could bring. While recognizing its capacity to reduce SG&A and indirect costs, we also assessed its impact on our growth trajectory and operational efficiency.
Our decision-making methodology has been instrumental in shaping our technology landscape. Although the ultimate goal is enhancing the customer experience, we acknowledge the complexity of the underlying operating systems layer, which is resistant to change. To bridge this gap, we’ve introduced an intermediary layer, termed the Data Integration Hub, as our differentiator.
Enabling Customer Growth through a Data Integration Hub
Today’s customers have elevated their expectations, desiring digital, real-time, and interconnected experiences. However, dismantling monolithic systems doesn’t happen overnight. This is where a platform like the one offered by Axway proves invaluable. It facilitates bridging the gap between legacy and contemporary technologies, a critical component in harnessing existing resources to create innovative digital experiences.
In many cases, our customers have a lot of operating systems, what you could call traditional systems of record. They might have a lot of data tied up in them, and these systems are mission-critical, so changing them is incredibly difficult.
In the past, we sometimes struggled because of the limitations of these operating systems to offer flexible customer experiences, depending on what our customers and our operations needed.
Our breakthrough came with the implementation of the APL Logistics Data Integration Hub within LSS+, our digital platform. This robust solution is purpose-built to ingest data from diverse sources, including our customers, their suppliers, and third-party resources. It empowers our customers to gain deeper insights into their data and maximize its utility.
Our greatest success comes from our ability to shake hands with other providers. In any given scenario, our customers interact with numerous carriers, suppliers, factories, and customers. As a logistics provider, expediting these connections translates to increased revenue for both our customers and ourselves.
The presence of an open platform like Amplify, which leverages universal API management to discover, secure, and manage APIs across the board, plays a pivotal role in facilitating this seamless integration. Additionally, Axway’s B2B Integration solution provides us the flexibility needed to connect with a wide array of partners and stakeholders.
Delivering Experiences Beyond Products
Our role is akin to that of an Order Management control tower within our customers’ supply chains. We offer a comprehensive perspective and actively assist our clients in orchestrating the movement and flow of both finished goods and raw materials. This is done with a dual focus: ensuring timely delivery and cost-effectiveness while simultaneously minimizing emissions.
We have many clients from industries such as industrial textiles, apparel, and automotive, where precision and execution are paramount. Our architectural framework equips them with the capability to make informed decisions rooted in considerations like cost, emissions, capacity, and various other factors. This empowers them to be demand-driven and make production decisions more efficiently, even upstream, thanks to our technological solutions.
At the core of our mission lies the creation of value for our customers. Naturally, this translates into tangible financial benefits, such as optimizing working capital and reducing operational expenses. Given that transportation and logistics often represent a substantial cost element for most industries, our contributions significantly enhance operational efficiency. Yet, our ultimate objective transcends these gains – it’s about elevating the customer experience for our customers’ own clientele.
For us, it’s not merely logistics for logistics’ sake or technology for technology’s sake. It’s fundamentally about the customer experience. It’s about ensuring that the right products reach the right recipients at precisely the right moment and at the optimal cost.
This commitment drives our relentless efforts to build a robust IT architecture and assemble teams of experts specializing in seamless integration. We work closely with our customers, hand in hand, to place their business at the forefront and enable smarter, more strategic logistical decisions.
Hakan Yaren is the global CIO for APL Logistics. A part of the KWE Group, APL Logistics is a leading global provider of order management solutions, warehousing and transportation services, serving Automotive, Consumer, Industrial, and Retail markets. Hakan has over 20 years of executive leadership experience developing business and IT strategies, managing transformation programs with a global scope, and driving B2B and B2C product development customer and partner integrations across multiple industries.