Q&A: Sebastian Mamro of PROS on big data problems
Q: Why do organisations that work in the supply chain sector have “big data problems”?
A: The biggest challenge in the service parts sector is the sheer amount of different products that companies have to support. When you sell all those products in multiple countries and through multiple different channels as well, then the problem becomes worse.
All companies in the supply chain sector can face this challenge. The main issue is that companies don’t use the data that they have to improve their performance and keep their sales strategies current.
Big data can be used to give guidance to individuals across the whole chain. By getting the right prices in place from the start, sales people can avoid the risk of margin erosion or proposing deals at prices that are too high. Ultimately, big data helps them make better decisions.
Q: How can companies make use of big data better?
A: Big data as a technology is such a nebulous term, but what it delivers is more tangible. For example, rather than guessing what a customer wants and how much they are willing to pay, streamline the quoting process by allotting products to specific categories and menus. This can also include recommendations for what other customers bought.
Not only does this make things easier for the sales person, it also improves the experience for the customer. They can get real-time feedback on the price they will have to pay, and why. What big data provides is the opportunity to look at what customers are willing to pay, and provide sales people with the right guidance during their negotiations.
Q: What are the next steps for companies to improve around how they price, quote and sell?
A: Start by looking at how your company operates and how you make decisions on sales. Based on this, you can start to model how those “best practices” get put together. As part of our consulting team, we also help companies to deploy best practices from the industry as a whole.
Following this, it’s important to join up all the data sources that exist and that will impact on sales. This can be information from the Enterprise Resource Planning system, the Customer Relationship Management system, sales records, previous customer order history, external market data … all the potential sources that staff currently use when quoting.
This should provide a model based on what you currently do, as well as recommendations for improvements.
Overall, this is part of a cultural change – getting sales people to make use of data is not just a question of adding a new tool. They have to see how the whole process will make things easier for them, and reduce friction with customers. Ultimately, everyone has to see how using data will make sales and quoting processes easier, faster and more effective for them.
Answers by Sebastian Mamro, General Manager EMEA, PROS
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.