The 6 keys to succeeding in logistics with IT

‘Logistics’ is a big word. It encompasses wholesaling, distribution, carriage, warehousing, transportation, storage and more!

More importantly, each aspect is part of an increasingly competitive market. So how do you capitalise on the opportunities?

For such a complicated sector, the answer is quite simple: Digital. Get your systems in order and you’ve greatly increased your competitiveness and profitability.

In our experience, there are six key areas in which IT is integral to logistical success:

  1. Cost reduction. IT is like any other part of a business in that all investments need a well-defined ROI with a director accountable for delivery. But in logistics, the narrow margins make IT costs even more of an issue. Thus you have to minimise IT costs themselves whilst also using IT to save money, for example through process efficiency or clarity of information.
  2. Automated tracking. The key to an efficient operation is real-time tracking. The tracking must be both internal and external to customers and suppliers. This can be complex, involving web portals and an array of mobile and handheld devices. Plus customer expectations are ever higher. But it’s absolutely achievable with the right IT leadership.
  3. Streamlined processes. To keep costs down, it’s critical to have a seamless integration and standardisation of internal and external processes. When it’s done right, it also minimises errors and maximises simplicity. The focus must be on scalability and achieving tight connections between customers and suppliers.
  4. Flexibility. With logistics, ‘flexibility’ means both expansion and contraction. You must be able to rapidly and efficiently take on new business or acquisitions, be equally efficient when taking down operations in order to maintain overall profitability. Flexibility provides financial stability and confidence at every point of the business cycle.
  5. Disaster planning. IT outages whether due to cyberattacks, some natural events, or a freak accident will happen if you don’t prepare for them. An outage can lead to major losses and lawsuits, as well as reputational damage. The necessary preparations need not be expensive or even that complicated (think: two factor authentication), but they do need to be properly configured and rolled out.
  6. Strategy. However clear your business strategy, you won’t get far unless you have a clear IT strategy to match. That means understanding:
    • your current IT capabilities
    • what you’ll need to achieve your objectives
    • and a roadmap for getting there. See our Technology Roadmap for Growth Knowledge Centre

Of course this is a particularly difficult moment for businesses. But we do believe that the current stresses have only accelerated existing problems. Less efficient businesses are struggling, whilst those with better IT leadership are scaling up. These six areas are the right place to start if you’re looking to see how you can do better.