Supply chains: Benefits of digitization in SMB today

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    Year after year, Cerca Technology has stood out for accompanying its clients in the growth of their operations, they have been participants in changes in best practices that seek to react to the current market. Hence, Cerca has stood out for supporting the acceleration of digital transformation and making organizations much more competitive, taking into account that supply chains are a strategic factor for all companies.

    The company has witnessed the changes that its clients have experienced in recent years, and they are aware of the need for process optimization in the supply chain that many SMBs in the region have, so much so that they have begun to talk about a “democratization of digital transformation access in the supply chain”.

    In an interview with Bryan Buitrago, General Manager of Cerca Technology, he explained it this way: “Digital transformation has accelerated in all organizations, regardless of size. And an example of this is Internet access and the use of mobile devices that have increased significantly in the last decade in Latin America and the Caribbean… but it is still insufficient when in Chile only 90% of SMBs that have an Internet connection, use it to send and receive emails, while 40% have a website and only 27% carry out electronic commerce. This scenario should be projected to the rest of the countries in the region that reach 99% of the business ecosystem in Latin America”.

    Taking into account this reality and the experience that Cerca has had in digital transformation processes, Bryan was asked if he, as a leader, has thought of any strategy to support small and medium-sized companies in facing this challenge. To which he replied: “Starting from the fact that there is still a lot of ignorance in SMBs about how to get the most out of the technology that is already within their reach, the strategy is planned in two ways; The first is to evangelize and be able to bring this knowledge to these organizations and the second is for more actors in the chain to join, for example, associations, technology companies, consultants, even governments themselves. In other words, we all start working towards the digital transformation processes of SMBs in the region.”

    He added that to begin this evangelization it is important to define the digital logistics transformation designed for SMBs; seeks that all processes within the chain can be digitized to make the company more productive while reducing costs and obtaining a vision from start to finish of the operation. Having said that, he stressed the distinction between the following aspects. – systematization – through software, and – technical – through machines, and robots, among others.

    Is it necessary to have a very robust structure to be able to implement technologies that support supply chains?

    When it comes to systematization in the SMB segment, many are scared because they believe that it is for the exclusive use of large companies, however, today the very development of the industry has made it unnecessary to set up large implementation teams since There are technologies that allow low-cost adoptions, in addition to all the benefits of being in the cloud. With this, the myth about the robustness that a company must have to be able to implement technologies that optimize the supply chain is clarified.

    Complementing the above, Bryan adds that “technology for the supply chain has been evolving, however, being business solutions with impacts on processes and productivity, they are not solutions that are implemented alone, they need support at a strategic level aligned with the objectives of the company and here SMBs have a great advantage over their competitors: their flexibility and agility.

    Is a very high investment required to acquire technologies for the supply chain?

    There really is no high investment, but rather that it is not paid, because a low investment can be made, but if it is not recovered, that is when it becomes a high investment. Technology implementation projects for distribution centers have very interesting returns on investment. For example, entering processes such as batch management, and rotation by expiration date, the expired product begins to decrease where a lot of money can be left monthly due to poor rotation. So, beyond just perceiving the size of the investment, it is better to understand how to obtain a return on investment.

    Now, when it comes to cash flow, with cloud solutions, acquisition models have changed, allowing subscription payments to be made according to the requirements of the operation.

    Finally, taking advantage of Bryan’s experience and knowledge, we wanted to know his perception about what he considers to be the 3 key points to start a digital transformation process, which we list below:

    • Review processes in supply chains:

    Identify which are those that will generate a rapid improvement impact and with which to leverage the strategic objectives of the organization. This can result in addressing transportation processes, planning at distribution centers; etc.

    • Define a technological and logistics development roadmap:

    Define a roadmap with specific priorities and the starting point where the company can be visualized in three and five years in order to scale the processes to the rest of the company since the savings achieved in the first processes will help pay for the technology.

    • Expert support:

    Having an experienced team is very important. Companies or people who have the knowledge and experience of having accompanied others to overcome the logistical challenges of different companies and industries and thus maximize the investments they have made.

    Taking into account his experience, Bryan mentions that “sometimes the absence of technology in the distribution centers becomes the limitation for that company to begin to grow, and that is where the leaders of SMEs must be very clear about where they are ?, How can they improve? And what do they need to get to where they want to be in the next 3 or 5 years?”

    And he insists: “I think that we – Cerca Technology – have a great responsibility with the country to support and accelerate the digital transformation in SMEs. That is where the future is and also where we can put our grain of sand so that the organizations develop and therefore the region. It is not a job of a person or a company, it is a job of each government, associations, and private industry, where not only the companies that offer technology have to row towards digitization.”

    Access to see the full interview below:

    Source: Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo.