Transportation Rates Model

Transportation rate model is becoming an automation for many TMS (Transportation Management System). However, rate model is not commonly adopted in Asia countries. One reason is the different transportation rating methods in each Asia countries. This leads to many customisation.

Common Transport Rate Model

These are some of the most common rate models you can design for your TMS.

  • City to City
  • Zip to Zip
  • Distance
  • Volumetric, weight or volume
  • Duration e.g daily, monthly
  • Equipment e.g. truck, chassis
Why Rating Model

Rating model goes beyond system design. Sadly, many rates by sales team are done in isolation with consideration to TMS. Using rating model have many advantages like cost reduction from operational efficiency, automated computation and financial settlement. This model are proven is eCommerce and eLogistics companies who are pure play digital.

Many traditional logistics providers remains entrenched in paper rates while their digital counterparts enter the logistics with rates digitalisation. The digital transformation of rate model remains a constant challenges for many. A major reason is due to user resistance to digitalise and mindset to change. Do realise that rates is no longer an IT or sales task but a collaborative efforts.

Depends on Customer

Today, I encounter another interesting requirements which state “depends on customer”. Being in project implementation for so long, I am still amused by this response. Why are there such requirements? Do not be surprised as such response is actually very common in Asian countries.

关系 as requirements

Asia cultures plays a big part in influencing the customer requirements. The “关系” aka as customer relationship is an unseen and very strong force. This practice is much prevalent in China, Japan and South Korea. It is no surprise that requirements can change upon customer requests. Naturally, it create challenges for the organisation as system is driven consumer customisation.

Customer is King

“Customer is King” is very common in Asia. With lower switching cost and labour cost, customers tend to be more fickle minded in Asia than American or EU countries. With the differences of leverages, organisations tends to accommodate customers for quick wins. Digital transformation also make it easier for customers to migrate their data across different platforms.

In Asia, requirements are driven largely by cultures. Power is a common play by customers to get what they wanted and as requested. You will usually need local help to elicit and mitigate such requirements. Only then, you can satisfy your customers and gain their trust.

Time, Scope, Cost

Have you ever meet user who like to ask if this or that can be done to change the system? That someone will also like make recommendations to the system. An age old answers to them is always “Time Scope and Cost”. It is usually easy to make suggestions or recommendations without such constraints or understanding of the system. So, how should we deal with it?

The Ignorant User

Some user will always be ignorant and oblivious to the basic of “Time scope and Cost”. For such user, the best way to handle is a detailed SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). With SOP, everything is documented with full transparency. If it is a product constraint, you can also state it clearly. All communication will need to formalise to prevent repetitive explanation with the ignorant user.

The “Want It All” User

There is another set of user who wants every features and yet having non existent scenario or test cases. This is the dreaded scope creep where development team waste valuable time designing for non existent requirments. I often apply Agile and scalable solution to handle such user. Agile allows your solution to scale if the “said” scenario occurs.

In every projects or production support, there will always be users who falls under the above categories. They usually have no understanding of time, scope or cost. You can easily be transparent and show your SOP. Do also consider applying Agile and design your solution to scale easily.

Language Localisation

Localisation is a key component of TMS (Transportation Management System). Legacy system suffers from language localisation partly due to database design which forces the implementation to be encode in certain locales. Globalisation of application creates new solution architecture which default localisation. One of such settings is the configuration of languages and display text.

Source: Telegram
Language Perspective

One may think languages in system is pretty straightforward. However, to a system, English does not literally mean English? Due to complexity of languages, we seek some sanity to classify languages in system. One of such classification is ISO 639. However, this is not the standard adopted by system due to different computer organisations. For instance, Windows language encoding will vary from that in Linux. The application SME (Subject Matter Expert) must be familiar with language localisation encoding across various platforms.

Future Language localisation

At present and in near future, we will see NLP (Natural Language Processing) gaining popularity like Chatbot. There will be focus for system to localise naturally from user behaviour and geolocation. Translation are real time and ML (machine learning) driven. Data locales are no longer required as data can be stored as what it is and translated as such.

Value Chain Redefined

The concept of value chain is not new. It is time to give a new meaning to value chain for the year 2019 and onwards. A pandemic like COVID-19 have redefined value chain to a new dimension.

Classic Value Chain

A value chain is a set of activities to create a product or services with the objective of maximising profit and create a competitive advantage. You will find standard raw materials or resources as inputs and finished products or services as end products. Supporting activities like HR, IT and logistics exists to smooth the operations of this process.

Value Chain Redefined

From COVID-19, value chain are tightly coupled with itself for end to end visibility. Social responsibility and sustainability triggers the evolution of value chain. Digital Transformation displaces old value chain and create new ones. New paradigm are formed where Agile invoke the innovation of customer experience.

In a nutshell, do be prepared for the new chain by acquiring new skillset and mindset. It is no longer viable to retain your old value chain. It’s now or never.

Global TMS Localisation

TMS (Transportation Management System) is a system that is specific to the local countries. It may be a challenge for many to solution this as a global system. However, the trick is to know which part to localise your global TMS. Here is a sneak preview on my cookbook to globalise your local TMS.

  • Your global TMS must be configurable to handle localisation.
  • There must be good TMS SME (subject matter expert) to guide the localisation.
  • TMS SME also act as key change agent to manage the localisation process.
  • Train local Champion in the business unit.
  • Outsource TMS solutions prudently and insource your localisation knowledge.
  • Localisation is more than system requirements, you must also understand cultures, habits and even local norms.

Many organisations do not have a formal localisation teams. Do invest to train your resources on the importance of localisation. Often, these requirements are not stated and only surface during usage. Thus, an experienced implementer will consider localisation for TMS.

Data for Sale

Data is becoming a commodity as storage become cheaper and cheaper. Many information are now digitised and uploaded to Cloud. Many social media are encouraging content creation with various monetisation incentives. If you own the data, how do you sell it?

Ownership of Data

The ownership of data is something of a dispute as there is no clear legal stand as it differs from country to country. If data is really yours and transferable, you shall be able move it from place to place like physical thing. Unfortunately, data is intangible and the true owner often belongs to the platform you created. Common platforms are social media who harvest your data for their commercial usage. This is with the fact that most platforms provided free services for “acquiring” your data with very fine print of consent.

Data Broker and Data Banking

Since it is established that data mainly do not belong to you, how do you secure your data privacy and rights? Data Broker and Data Banking will emerge in future. Like currency, data is a value of trade and can be transferred and stored. These entities will act as intermediary to help you secure data. Imagine a futuristic version of your Cloud Drive that can seamlessly extract and secured your social media data and transfer anywhere.

Data Marketplace

A current version of Data Marketplace is the stock market. When there are Data Broker and Data Banking, suppliers and consumers will come together in a Data Marketplace. This is place where Data can be bought and sold. This is not new as many informal channels existed for such transactions. We will be looking forward to such future where data owners are can sell and be compensated with their data.

Coopetition the New Economy

Competitions are a thing of a past as consumers became flicker minded and switch cost is lower due to advent of technologies e.g. having different video conferencing application in a mobile. Monopolies discourage innovations and create unfair pricing for consumers. Many countries even have laws regarding competition to prevent creation of monopoly e.g. Singapore Competition Act. A new breed of organization emerges where competitors works in cooperation across different regions. A world of coopetitors!

What is Coopetition?

Coopetition is a fusion of cooperation and competition. In today’s economy, monopolies are frown upon and even illegal. It is not unusual for competitors to collaborate and cooperate for mutual benefits. Many examples existed such as airlines alliances with their codeshare connection, automotive partnership that owes HERE maps and Alibaba network of merchants, suppliers and eCommerce shops.

What Cooperate yet Compete?

All these coopetitors have a common objective to increase competitive advantage, enlarge market share, extend market reach and coverage with the consumers. This would create a network effect globally as a single organization will take a longer period to achieve this. Moreover, technologies have disrupted barriers and amplified threats of market entrants to traditional industries. By sharing, these organisations can create greater value in combating these entrants. Vice versa, new startups can allied together to take on existing incumbents. Without coopeting, these objectives would be impossible.

COVID-19 Effects on Coopetition

Perhaps the best case study of Coopetition comes from COVID-19 pandemic. Covid Vaccines have taken less than a year to be developed compared to several years for a typical vaccine. It will be impossible unless information is shared and collaborated among old foes and competitors. Another example is the collaboration between transportation providers, Food and Beverages (F&B) businesses and food delivery during COVID-19 lockdown like ComfortDelivery in Singapore. Will your organization be mature to coopete against this new breed of alliances?

Customer Experience 101

Customer Experience (CX) is an emerging trend in many organisations. Sales, customer service and customer support are being renamed into Customer Experience teams. However, are we ready for CX?

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience is a holistic management of customer touchpoints from infancy to “forever”. It is an integrated view to provide a positive and lifelong effect on overall consumer satisfaction. The experience combine the cognitive and affective state of mind to increase expectations beyond the customers needs. In layman terms, it is to make customers so happy and satisfied that they engage in a lifelong relationship with the organization. One such company that comes to mind would be Apple.

Why Customer Experience (CX)?

CX sounds like an idealist view and one wonders how this differs from a combination of presale, sales, customer support and customer service. As mentioned in my previous study of overall consumer satisfaction, there are different aspects of satisfaction components in consumer. All these satisfaction parts may lie in different parts of the organisation and beyond like third party vendors and logistics providers. CX aims to unite network together from these disparate systems, service providers and organisations into a single integrated experience.

Reality Bites

In reality, how many of us have really experience CX? It is common for loyal customers to be let down by services that are beyond the organisation such as third party logistics and vendors because these information are not shared. For many years, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have been touted as the game changer for capturing customer relationships to achieve similar objectives. CX may suffer from the same verdict as CRM if many of these customer data remains in silo. Data analytics, machine learning and many other cloud technologies looks promising to change and make CX a success. By then, what will CX be rename to?

A lesson from The IT Crowd

Hello. IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Source: The IT Crowd
Speaker: Roy Trenneman

On numerous occasions, we have a one liner requirement that require us to implement the request in our application system. Getting such a requirement always lead me to seek solace in a the famous funny classic show “The IT Crowd”. The phrase is one of my favorite in the show because I always feel like a reboot could be great!

Eager to Please

We are sometimes the result of our own action. It is natural to please the customers without know why they need it. Usually, the person conveying the message are not a suitable person to articulate the customer needs. Thus, do we “shoot the messenger”? Unfortunately, our old code of chivalry have prevents us from doing so. So, what are the next course of action we should consider?

Customer is Not always Right

Firstly, the organization must understand that customer is no longer always right. It is interesting to find that many demands are actually made from internal to implementation team with the thought that giving what customers wanted will please the customers. In summary, the purpose of giving is to please the customer. It is time to throw our old ways and consider a new way of handling requests.

Shooting the Messenger

A request should not always be translated to a task or action. This enlightenment means we must drop our chivalry and “shoot the messenger. Of course, this is not literally and meant that we must drop the practice of the reliance of passing the messages. With Cloud technologies, data can be easily be obtained to confirm or disprove requests. The key is to understand what customer really needs.

Customer Experience

After “shooting the messenger”, organizations shall turn towards a new role called Customer Experience (CX). This role is like an ambassador who learns, understand and even feel the customer wants and needs. The role go beyond passing message to needs analysis and “deep learning” to provide a positive experience aka consumer satisfaction (You could refer to my initial study on overall consumer satisfaction). Deep learning requires capture of data points to measure with the purpose of improving customer experience. So, is your organization agile enough to take the step to “shoot your messenger” and transform to Customer Experience?

Meanwhile, I can only stick to Netflix watching The IT Crowd.

A basic CX read, Customer Experience: What, How and Why Now