Coronavirus ripple effect
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
We recently caught up with Cleo's Chief Marketing Officer Tushar Patel to get his thoughts on the coronavirus ripple effect and how manufacturers and supply chains can arm themselves.
COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains around the world. During emergency situations like this one, it’s vital for companies to implement an agile integration strategy to quickly and efficiently onboard new trading partners into their supply chains. However, nearly half (46%) of the businesses surveyed state that this onboarding process typically takes them a month or longer, likely due to the fact that many businesses do not use an automated integration platform. Meanwhile, automated integration capabilities are allowing companies to onboard new partners and suppliers nearly instantly – enabling them to continue standard business operations nearly uninterrupted. In the wake of a global pandemic, businesses must leverage upgraded ecosystem integration technology to combat the growing challenge of maintaining a successful supply chain despite hardships caused by the virus. We recently caught up with Cleo's Chief Marketing Officer Tushar Patel to get his thoughts on the corona virus ripple effect and how manufacturers and supply chains can arm themselves.
ADM: If you must engage with a new partner with short term notice, how long does onboarding them as an alternative/new partner take on average?
Patel: Like with all technology, it depends. If you have a partner that is ready to be onboarded and has set up the proper test environments and has all of their onboarding requirements ready, you can move very quickly – it can be a matter of hours. If the integration process is manual, then onboarding can take anywhere from several days to several weeks or even months in most cases because you’re not leveraging what you already know alongside AI and automation. In fact, nearly half of surveyed businesses report the onboarding of a new partner taking over a month. However, when onboarding processes are automated via an integration platform, the onboarding process can be nearly instantaneous – allowing businesses to be more agile when disasters and virus outbreaks strike and force companies to identify new partners, providers, and supply chain resources. Agility is what you need when dealing with situations like COVID-19. When you need to quickly identify new partners and any other supply chain resources, and onboard them, you want to use some type of ecosystem integration platform and automate the process.
ADM: Why haven’t companies automated integration processes to prepare for situations like this?
Patel: Simply because it’s not something that they’re thinking about. When it comes down to integration processes, or processes for onboarding, the idea is that if it works, don’t improve it. That attitude enables a complacency where businesses want to put their investments into other types of non-integration technology. Most companies haven’t had a reason that completely validates the need for automated integration until now in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. These companies that have been slow to automate processes have previously viewed upgraded technology, like automation and cloud that allow workers to manage operations remotely, as something that is simply nice to have. Now, with COVID-19, we have companies thinking about how they can do this in a quick way. So, it’s no longer something that’s simply nice to have if you can afford it, it’s necessary to keep the business afloat and compete in today’s reality.
ADM: Do businesses struggle with integrating new partners when global emergencies like coronavirus are occurring? Why?
Patel: Companies all over the globe already struggle to do business with one another due to bureaucratic red tape, tariffs and country-to-country trade agreements even without a pandemic or outside pressure. Now, companies throughout the U.S. and across the globe are being forced to keep their workers at home to slow the spread of a global pandemic. In some cases, companies have different business divisions in different places in the world. When some countries are closing trade and transportation, how are you going to continue to do business and look at business continuity strategies so that you can shift an order or load to countries where trade is open? Unless they have implemented a certain degree of automation and remote access to critical business applications, they will need to halt business operations that require on-site personnel until the situation is alleviated. When integration processes aren’t automated, there is a large amount of coordination and communication that must be handled between new partners before they can do business. If coordinating these processes requires a manual effort by an on-site employee, the integration will take much longer – especially when a fair number of the workers might become ill or be forced to take time off to care for sick loved ones. The danger of losing a workforce is always going to be present, but when it comes to your supply chain and critical business processes, you must think in a way that explores automation and remote control of those processes.
ADM: How can improved integrations, especially in the face of epidemics like coronavirus, improve app development?
Patel: Improved integration allows businesses to have a better handle on the app development cycles – especially when they include things like APIs. Upgrading integration technology can improve a business’ understanding of the flow of information between various applications via APIs. By better understanding this flow of information and data, businesses can identify areas where their existing applications could be improved or expanded on. 31% of respondents admit that their company loses upwards of 50 orders each year specifically due to integration issues, with 17% losing up to 500 orders or more on an annual basis. It’s incredibly important that your APIs have a certain amount of richness and governance. It’s not just the application development lifecycle and design time cycle that must be managed, but also the run cycle. So, governance comes into play. When we start to think about the impact of an integration platform and automated processes and the capability to adequately manage an API’s lifecycle, platforms become incredibly valuable and can start to automate all the integrations that are necessary.
ADM: How do faulty/incompetent integrations affect a business’ bottom line in the event of pandemics?
Patel: When it comes to pandemics, it’s about having the right supplies, in the right place, at the right time for consumption. Faulty integrations affect the bottom line by not having the goods and materials to sell when people need it. The key is not so much to guess the behaviors of people – no one would have guessed there would be a toilet paper shortage - but you can start to understand the advantages of having great supply lines of sanitary and healthcare products during a pandemic. When small- to mid-size businesses need to find and onboard new partners and suppliers, such as in the cases of China and Italy restricting trade and travel into and out of their countries, the speed at which they can onboard and integrate with these new partners will determine whether or not they can keep the lights on. Many of these small- to mid-size businesses can’t afford to have a gap in their supply chain, no matter the cause, that inhibits their ability to continue doing business. As we continue to have pandemics and natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, it begins to affect a business’ bottom line in the opportunities they leave competitors to fill the market gap they have created through their own lack of preparation.
ADM: How is the coronavirus impacting the urgency associated with updating organizations’ outdated integration technology?
Patel: The coronavirus is acting as an external validator for many of the companies that have already added a certain degree of automation and remote access to critical business applications. These companies’ workforces can manage systems from their web browsers on home computers, tablets, and even smartphones – enabling their business to continue running uninterrupted. The companies that haven’t automated these processes are forced to shut down until they can upgrade their operations capabilities or physically return to the job site. We’ll see a lot of cloud migration and enterprise technology upgrades across the board after the pandemic has lessened and the dust has cleared. Some analysts are predicting that the COVID-19 epidemic will return with the regular flu season in the fall and winter of 2020, and businesses that have already seen the consequences of being ill-prepared for a global pandemic and will want to be prepared for the next upset. The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing companies to look at supply chain integration technologies and the points of integration with their various business partners and the end-users. When those points of interactions are not well governed or understood it leaves a bad taste in the customers’ mouths.
ADM: Where should companies that are looking to upgrade their integration technology start their process, especially when there are so many things to consider in the face of a global pandemic?
Patel: You have to start by understanding the relationship you have with your partners: what are the expectations; what do they need; what are the opportunities that exist for business continuity. After this pandemic subsides, businesses will still have to do business. The supply chain impacts will be tremendous. You must also understand what the impact to the end customer is, and work backwards from there. Companies should consult an integration solutions provider to find out where they should start their upgrade process based on what is most critical to their business. That said, many companies will likely start by migrating many of their business processes to the cloud. Technically, those processes can be migrated in a short matter of days, but what’s often overlooked is the preparation needed to make that quick transition. Many supply chain organizations don’t even fully understand their own business processes involved in order reception, fulfillment, and delivery. It might only technically take 3-4 days to migrate business processes, but realistically it will take closer to 8-12 weeks for the average organization to have an in-depth understanding and design of the processes that will be transferred to the cloud.
About Tushar Patel
Chief Marketing Officer Tushar Patel leads global marketing for Cleo and holds responsibility for the company’s corporate marketing, product marketing, demand generation, communications, events, and sales enablement initiatives.
Tushar brings more than 20 years of software marketing experience and leadership to the company. Prior to joining Cleo, he was CMO with Kibo Software and held leadership positions with Innotas Corporation, Mocana Corp. and National Semiconductor. Tushar holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University and an MBA from the HaaS School of Business at the University of California Berkeley.
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