May 17, 2020

Adflex: unparalleled strategic and technical consultancy

Supply Chain
Sean Galea-Pace
3 min
We take a closer look at digital payments specialist Adflexas Pat Bermingham, CEO of the firm, answers our questions.



Could you tell me a little bit...

We take a closer look at digital payments specialist Adflex as Pat Bermingham, CEO of the firm, answers our questions.

 

Could you tell me a little bit about your company and your role at the company?

Adflex is a B2B payments specialist that processes over 7,000,000 supply chain transactions a year for more than 4,000 businesses, including some of the world’s largest enterprises.

As CEO, my responsibilities include all the things you would expect – strategy, client services and finance – but I also make time to stay involved with the coding and technical integrations. I’m a developer at heart!

 

What are the current trends within your industry?

The payments industry has been moving away from static card numbers and towards digital wallets for several years, albeit with a few hiccups along the way, and this continued in 2019. One of the biggest launches of the year encapsulated this trend: the Apple Card, which has no card number, signature or expiry date.

This is reflected in the B2B space too, where we have seen demand for virtual cards sharply rise due to the increased security and financial control they enable – particularly in industries with complex supply chains. As such, I predict that payment card numbers will soon be out of the public domain altogether.

 

What makes your company competitive?

A few things! Our expertise in this space is unrivalled, so we can provide unparalleled strategic and technical consultancy. Our proprietary digital payments platform not only dramatically simplifies and automates corporate payment issuance and acceptance, but enables strategic advantage for both parties. Buyers can quickly onboard a wider range of qualified suppliers to card programmes than ever before, thanks to our high levels of bespoke support, and suppliers can establish partner-of-choice status with more buyers than otherwise possible.

Furthermore, by aggregating card transaction volumes across the Adflex Payment Gateway, we have leveraged significant buying power and secured reduced merchant service charges with many global acquiring banks. This means we can offer our customers the most competitive merchant service rates, typically saving merchants in the region of 15-20% of their card acceptance costs.

 

What innovations has your company been developing during 2019?

This year we have developed our new, cloud-based APIs. These will offer clients new levels of flexibility with their payments systems, allowing them to effectively and easily self-serve and build a payment platform that suits the needs of their business.

 

What are your predictions for the industry in 2020?

Secure remote commerce (SRC), a card-based payments system that further builds on the concept of eliminating passwords and card numbers in ecommerce, will have a significant impact on the payments industry in 2020 and beyond. The effects will be long-term, but eventually, the hosted pay page will go the way of the fax, as enterprise-scale buyers and merchants move to more flexible, self-service payment APIs. The key trends here will be the move towards digital wallets and ubiquity, as the single ‘Pay’ button will reduce the amount of differently branded payment methods at checkout, such as MasterPass and Visa Checkout.

 

Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our readers at Supply Chain Digital?

The most exciting development in today’s industry is the introduction of APIs, which can modernise payments and streamline supply chains. While PSD2 may be old news, the impact it will continue to have on business payments will be making headlines throughout 2020.

 

For more information on all topics for Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

NTTDATA
supplychain
Supplychainriskmanagement
Procurement
6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”

 

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