Retail technology is a long game and advancing innovations can be on the rise for a very long time. Look no further than Retail Dive's list of the top five technologies we expected to reshape retail in 2017: Robotics; drone delivery; e-commerce anti-fraud tools; blockchain and bitcoin; and virtual/digital assistants. Many of those technologies have yet to see wide adoption.
Robotics, for example, was one of the hottest technology topics in retail that year, as several retailers expanded their use in their supply chains. But in 2019, the use of robots can't be described as widespread, and is still evolving toward use in-store and for last-mile delivery.
Meanwhile, the excitement over drone delivery entering 2017 fizzled out amid regulatory delays, but that doesn't mean the industry has heard the last of this technology. As for blockchain and bitcoin, a few retailers are experimenting with them, but most are still trying to understand what they are. Meanwhile, e-commerce anti-fraud tools and virtual/digital assistants have become real growth segments.
With that in mind, many of the hottest retail technologies heading into 2019 are iterations of earlier technology that may finally be at an adoption tipping point this year. These are areas of technology development the sector has been hearing about for a while, but are expected to be the focus of new energy and innovation in the coming months.
Customization enabled by tech
Is customization just another name for personalization, a notion that has dominated retailers' shopping experience strategies in recent years?
It might be most accurate to describe it as the intersection where different forms of on-demand manufacturing technology meet the need for more personalized shopping experiences, as well as the evolving expectation among customers that they should have more control over product selection. In short, it's about giving the customer exactly what they want.
Retailers like Eloquii have been heading in that direction for a while, and brands such as Adidas have experimented with on-demand, 3D-printed apparel. But Amazon's recent acquisition of body-scanning firm Body Labs and new funding for scanning technology developers like Naked labs stoked new excitement in the concept. Furthermore, companies such as OnPoint Manufacturing can now enable the production process allowing shoppers to obtain apparel in fits and size combinations that even wider rack selections don't provide.
Kirby Best, chairman of OnPoint Manufacturing, told Retail Dive, "Getting the right fit isn't a size issue; it's an inventory issue." With that in mind, OnPoint created an Alabama factory that manufactures apparel based on unique size patterns and combinations of sizes (for example, a dress that's a size 8 on top and a size 6 on the bottom). "Someone can order exactly what they want, and we can make it for them," Best said.
He added that OnPoint is closely studying the rapidly evolving area of body-scanning technology, noting that these capabilities are becoming available in smaller formats and virtual offerings that will make them more broadly available and useful.
OnPoint eventually plans to open on-demand factories in multiple markets, but it's not the only one investing in customization. Arts and crafts retailer Joann has embraced the concept, recently launching a MyFabric offering that allows shoppers to customize fabrics and have them printed with the help of WeaveUp's digital textile technology. Joann also invested in Glowforge, a 3-D laser-cutting startup.
A Joann spokesperson told Retail Dive via email, "All of our customers are unique, and we want to enable them with tools and technologies that allow them to fully customize their items in any way they choose."
BOPIS moves beyond mass market
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is a good example of an area of innovation that is not new to retail, but could be set for a mass-market breakout in 2019. Several large retailers adopted BOPIS early on, and have continued to refine their approaches and develop new ideas for how stores should be designed and store operation transformed around the concept. Walmart, for example, has placed pick-up towers in stores and explored how BOPIS can be enhanced when paired with other technology innovations, like driverless vehicles that could bring customers to stores for order pick-up.
More recently, merchants, as varied as apparel retailer rue21 and pet products maven Petco, have adopted BOPIS, and by the end of 2018, it was becoming clear that retailer devotion to BOPIS paid off with increasing interest among customers. A GPShopper report last year suggested that more than two-thirds of more than 1,300 shoppers surveyed said they planned to use BOPIS services for holiday shopping needs.
That is likely to influence greater adoption and leveraging of the enabling technologies that support BOPIS this year. These include platforms, devices and mobile architectures linked with inventory and supply chain data that allow store websites and in-store associates to coordinate online orders, in-store available stock and shipping between stores. Ultimately, BOPIS and the technologies that enable it offer the most obvious proof points that retailers' omnichannel visions finally are becoming reality.
Still, retailers need to be step-wise in their BOPIS rollouts. If they rush to market with BOPIS without adequately supporting it, it could end up being a sales killer. Danielle Roberts, senior product manager at Kibo, which provided technology for rue21's launch, told Retail Dive, "BOPIS is not something everyone can just jump into immediately. In most cases, consumers will only give a retailer one chance to get it right, which means the inventory better be ready when that confirmation email says it is."
She further added, "Consumers operate in multiple mediums. For them it's not about loyalty to a device type or a physical store. It's about convenience, cost and quality. In consumers' minds, online and offline are already linked."
Search options expand
Shopping search increasingly means visual or voice search, very likely through a mobile smartphone or another device that is not a desktop computer.
Visual search, in particular, is becoming a more frequent component of mobile app experiences, in everything from the apps of social networks like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram that adopted the technology early on to those of retailers. When used via mobile, it can be an omnichannel enabler, assisting consumers in app-based purchasing and driving social commerce, but also bringing them into stores — especially when searching for an image of a specific item shows which nearby stores might have that product.
Casey Gannon, vice president of marketing at Shopgate, told Retail Dive by email, "When it comes to apparel, home improvement, furniture or any number of other industries whose product relies so heavily on being visually unique and appealing, visual search is going to grow more and more important to reduce the path to purchase and navigate consumers to the products they want sooner. Although innovative now, it will soon be table stakes."
In the second half of 2018, there was a flurry of announcements about retailers adopting or developing visual search technology. Luxury e-commerce marketplace Farfetch used Syte to enable visual search capabilities for its iOS app, which followed by a few months similar moves by Forever 21 and H&M. Walmart's Hayneedle has been working with Slyce, though at the end of 2018, Walmart reportedly was working on developing its own visual search technology.
Thanks to devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, voice search also is on the rise, with Capgemini predicting that within three years, 40% of consumers could use voice search instead of text search via smartphones or websites.
Expanding the reach of voice assistants into smartphones and other devices, which Google has easily managed by embedding Google Assistant in Android devices, and which Amazon is working on as well, will further power growth in voice search. However, Mike Mallazzo, director of marketing at Narrativ, which uses machine learning to improve search, told Retail Dive that voice search for shopping still offers a limited perspective.
"Voice search right now worries me because in most cases it doesn't show you the full range of results you get from other forms," he said. "It may tell you about just the products from the company [like Amazon] that enables that search, and not the full range of content you get from other search results."
Narrativ's take is that the real innovation happening in search is taking place in the underlying data. Mallazzo said machine learning and structured data can deliver better search results, and assurance the product links embedded in a range of content throughout the web are valid and up-to-date.
Augmented reality and virtual reality find homes in narrow spaces
Retailers may be tired of hearing what these technologies potentially can do for them, as it's a sales pitch they have been hearing for years.
In late 2017 and early 2018, an initial round of AR features in mobile apps targeted buyers of furniture and home decor, giving them a way to visualize those items in their own home environments. But, there are signs that AR and VR will be leveraged in stores and could figure prominently in omnichannel shopping and store operations.
Most recently, Walmart Labs developed an AR-based product comparison scanner for its mobile app that can be used in-store to scan entire shelf sections to compare product details, rather than using a barcode scanner to look up products one at a time. This and other types of retail AR app features could leverage visual search to become more useful and valuable to shoppers and retailers.
On the virtual reality front, Macy's expanded use of Marxent's VR technology to 90 of its stores by January 2019. The retailer provides shoppers with a VR headset to help them design their own room settings by visualizing and moving around 3D images of different furniture items. Early on, it saw a 60% increase in sales when customers used the technology, as well as a decline in returns, all of which convinced Macy's to buy into VR to a greater extent.
Meanwhile, Walgreens, Home Depot and Walmart, among others, also have started working with InContext Solutions to use VR technology to help them with planning store designs and merchandise placement.
A CB Insights report on retail trends for 2019 observed that AR and VR are still "transitory" technologies, meaning they are starting to see some adoption, but still need to be better understood. "While augmented and virtual reality offer a myriad of benefits to retailers, high upfront costs remain a barrier to adoption," the report stated. "Retailers will have to continue to experiment with how to best leverage the technologies to reap a return on their investment."
Automated checkout/Cashierless stores
The sector has heard a lot about Amazon Go and its cashierless convenience stores, but what about other technology companies enabling automated checkout, as well as other forms of expedited self-checkout and mobile checkout?
We are likely to witness much more movement on smart/automated/cashierless checkout schemes in 2019. Amazon may be poised for a more rapid expansion of Amazon Go if reports are correct that it's seeking airport space and mulling a plan to open 3,000 stores by 2021. But other technology companies, like Standard Cognition, are saying deployment of their solutions by other retailers will begin to ramp up in 2019.
Evan Shiue, head of strategy at Standard Cognition, told Retail Dive via email that its automated checkout platform will be in "thousands of stores" by the end of 2019. "Our early customers span the pharmacy, convenience and grocery segments."
While not all sizes and types of retailers have been considered viable candidates for automated checkout, Standard recently acquired a mapping software start-up, Explorer.ai, whose technology could open up the addressable market.
"Mapping is a continuous process, as we always need to be tracking who has what. If we can't do it quickly – the whole store in minutes — we don't have an accurate picture," Shiue said. "This is a challenge that all autonomous checkout companies, including Amazon Go, have faced. Whoever solves it first has the best shot at working with large-format retailers."
That doesn't mean such retailers will do away with cashiers and other forms of payment, as Amazon is doing with Amazon Go. "We think cash and credit payments will still play a role in these stores, so we're providing payment kiosks," Shiue said. "So far, every retailer has told us they don't want to be app only — they also need to accept cash and credit."
“Collaborative networks 'the way forward'”
The content was largely the concept of sharing across an international network.
Developing ideas in the late 1990s at French La Poste
The thoughts that drove the successful built-up of the DPD network between the years 2000 and 2005
Collaborative logistics networks: Some believe that collaborative logistics networks are the way forward for companies looking to broaden and deepen their global reach, but unable to fund a global network of assets.
Some companies can reap benefits from networks built on the sole – or mostly sole – ownership of assets and supply chains, the majority of small to medium service providers can benefit more by joining with suitable partners to expand their mutual footprints.
Difference between Collaborative networks from the traditional sole ownership model:
Sole ownership networks are built around a single asset base.
Collaborative networks are built around a shared vision.
Sole ownership networks predominant through “hardware”, like trucks, planes and buildings.
Collaborative networks predominant through “software”, like processes, information technology systems, relationships etc.
Most transportation networks are indeed a mix, but most do have a tendency to lean towards one particular model. Example: as integrator UPS, Collaborative networks include the franchise network DPD.
Difficulties of traditional strategy (corporation) model:
Setting up owned operations and using own transportation vehicles is a big, and rather expensive, strategy.
Transportation networks are made up of people, policies and processes. The components of the network must work together efficiently and smoothly to ensure that goods are delivered within the promised time. As the world becomes more interconnected & complex, not only is the need for precision in service delivery becoming more critical, it is also clear that only a few players have the reach and network coverage to satisfy these demands using a traditional sole ownership model which is necessarily limited by the assets and structures it's able to fund.
If a company cannot afford to offer what customers need under its own steam, they need to collaborate or at least they would benefit from exploring their partnering options.
Collaborative network function:
Collaborative networks focus primarily on network management, engineering and information technology
Driven and differentiated by efficiency of process rather than the assets that underpin the service
Based on multiple-owner network through – sharing of vision, sharing of risks, sharing of investments, and sharing of profits
Allows companies to offer services and reach beyond their own borders and means
Each partner can focus all efforts on the specifics and dynamics of its market and area of responsibility
The result is a network that responds very well to local requirements and rapidly adapts to changing demand patterns
The way it works in terms of management processes:
Sole ownership models have a general tendency towards top down structuring which can create a “command and control” culture
For collaborative networks, “command and control” approach doesn't work. Only strategic vision and operating frameworks are introduced top down. Beyond this, operational decisions are generally taken bottom up, though this is within the common framework developed by the lead entity and individually agreed by each partner. This ensures coherence of and commitment to the community and network, while enabling effective adaptation to local markets
The success of a collaborative network:
Integration in collaborative networks starts with alignment in spirit and strategy, which in turn comes through complementary and shared ambitions and beliefs of the different partners. Collaborative leadership is crucial for ensuring that the network and the various partner organizations are well integrated and aligned in services customers. This drives the performance of the network and business community as a whole as well as the success of each individual partner.
Fitting franchise network into this set-up:
The franchise concept is an effective tool to integrate collaborative networks and to ensure that seamless processes and common service standards exist. It outlines the rights and obligations of the parties involved, and fosters entrepreneurial drive amongst the largely independent franchisees. This ensures a coherent and consistent customer experience, while the most flexible and commercial approach is offered to markets and customers
The collaborative model enables each partner to focus on its core activities and strengths, while expanding reach through others. The model is new way of balancing the trade-off between agility and ability. As profits, investments and risks are shared across the partnership, collaborative models allow for expansion beyond the financial, customer knowledge and capability barriers of individual companies. While decision making and implementation of new ideas may be slower due to collaborative governance, this is often offset by the natural tendency for collaborative networks to offer greater operational and commercial flexibility to tailor the offer to the needs of local markets and customers. Applying the collaborative partnership concept to a supply chain ecosystem is a very modern and responsible way to run a business – in fact, the collaborative culture promotes the creation of value beyond individual organizations, for partners and customers alike.
It's crunch time. The laidback days of summer are just a sunny blur in the rearview mirror, the end of the year is looming and, for many of us, the pressure is piling up. And stress at work, unfortunately, doesn't stay there. It can spill over into your home life, wreck your sleep, and even damage your long-term health. The most insidious part, notes Cynthia Howard, CEO of executive coaching firm Ei Leadership, is that "you can't think your way out of a stress reaction. Trying to shut it off with rational thought won't work."
That's because our central nervous systems respond to risk or danger with an urge toward "fight, flight, or freeze," and in the workplace, you can't usually afford to do any of those. "The human machine isn't designed to handle the speed and complexity of life today," Howard says. "The basic human operating system hasn't had an upgrade in about 100,000 years."
Constant stress is one reason why, in spite of remarkable medical advances, heart disease remains stubbornly widespread. A Gallup study this past July found, for instance, that reporting to a tyrannical boss isn't just unpleasant: it can markedly increase your chances of developing cardiovascular illness.
Current Organizational Design Has Aged Out
The design of an organization — the structure, leadership, and processes that govern it — has the power to unleash the full potential of human capital to pursue the organization’s purpose and convert the cost of that capital to strategic advantage. But in today’s customer-led and disruption-rich market, most organizations are proving to be slow, rigid, and culturally tone-deaf. Designed on the principles of stability, accountability, and control, they protect entrenched politics and create hard-walled, politically laden silos, long decision cycles, and disjointed customer experiences that stymie change — and frustrate customers.
Instead of unleashing the value of human capital, the current design of most organizations is creating dangerous inertia in fast-moving markets.
Experience Index (CX Index™) results show another year of flat results as CX teams
fail to champion the organizational change needed to pursue more than cosmetic
• Digital transformations are underway at over half of ﬁrms, but few have moved beyond bolt-on efforts to optimize individual channels or functions. Analog-first, silo-oriented political capital continues to create powerful inertia.
• Only 32% of employees in the US — 13% worldwide — are engaged, meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. Yet leadership shows little appetite to change the norms that made their careers and shaped their teams. CX combined with employee experience (EX) can create a powerful force to drive internal and external change. But this remains a potential, not a realization, for most.
What defines the life sciences and healthcare supply chain today? Which issues are going to shape logistics over the coming years? To find out, we polled attendees at our recent DHL Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Conference in Miami – we asked which hot topics they are prioritizing in their operations. Here in reverse order are their top ten:
Companies are eager to expand into new markets and get products to market faster. Drivers include expanded patient access to high-quality healthcare and pockets of new wealth stimulating demand for cutting-edge treatments in the private sector. In the years leading up to 2022, drug-spending growth in the so-called ‘pharmerging’ markets (such as the BRIC countries) is expected at 6-9%.
Two years ago during our 2017 global conference, this topic was only in 17th place. Today, companies are increasingly challenged to build more flexible and responsive supply chains. Complexity has grown in the supply chain with more contract manufacturing and outsourcing, supplier reductions, and intensified regulations. What is needed is a more flexible, tightly controlled global supply chain capable of reacting very quickly to risk.
These include robotics and augmented reality in the supply chain and, interestingly, this has fallen from 4th place in our 2018 poll. It could be that companies are actively exploring and piloting these technologies yet take a mid-term view on realizing investment returns; other issues with nearer-term implications are taking priority.
GDP and GMP remain firmly on the radar for supply chain managers and will likely remain a priority for the foreseeable future, given the highly regulated nature of the industry. Rules continue to change every day around the world, and the environment is getting more sophisticated and challenging with issues such as serialization, new directives for medical devices, and more.
This topic was never previously prioritized by our life sciences and healthcare customers so there has clearly been a strong shift in sentiment, perhaps related to tougher regulation and enforcement, such as the new rules on Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals introduced this year by the EPA and to growing environmental momentum globally. Cold chain transportation in life sciences and healthcare could prove to be a particularly critical battleground here – it has a 20% higher carbon emission impact than regular road transport.
Supply chain professionals in the industry are probably thinking of Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack in 2018 and how this threatens to reshape the pharmaceutical supply chain. Many are looking at more direct distribution models, and this poses interesting challenges for inventory management and positioning, network design, and changing customer expectations. Research says $40 dollars of every $100 spent on drugs in the US are being channeled through intermediaries and supply chains with multiple players; this suggests inefficiencies in a supply chain ripe for disruption. Manufacturers now have greater access to patient and user data – something they did not have previously – and new tech startups are going further with direct-to-home models.
This is driven largely by M&A activity and the prioritization of supply chain optimization to retain service and quality standards during a merger and to realize synergies. In addition, the industry is highly transformational, with lots of divestitures, new partnerships, a high level of innovation bringing new therapies to market, new distribution models, and a trend towards outsourcing of key supply chain activities.
Governments are trying to lower healthcare costs – which can account for 10% of GDP – at a time when those costs are growing at a faster rate than GDP. This is placing immense pressure on companies to operate more efficiently. The supply chain is an obvious place to start. To give you one example – the leading companies in medical devices have from 116-185 days of inventory on hand. Compare this to 6-9 days in the tech sector and you will immediately see the potential to realize savings through an optimized supply chain.
2. Digitalization of supply chains & data analytics
Our customers clearly see great potential in big data and machine learning for data-driven end-to-end optimization. They want to achieve better analysis of risks, costs, and other variables in the supply chain, to model more efficient flows of inventory and produce better forecasts and predictions. Improved end-to-end visibility and data analysis can help address the long-standing trend of overstocking inventory to ensure fulfillment. Companies now have the ability to break down silos throughout their supply chain – improving data exchange and analysis across multiple partners and suppliers to increase the agility of their distribution networks. They can reduce the amount of cash tied up in excess inventory and, ultimately, ensure the right pharmaceuticals are in the right place at the right time.
1. Temperature control & cold chain
A major priority for more than 75% of conference attendees, this has also been the number one issue for the last three years, confirming just how critical logistics is to the life sciences and healthcare industry. The integrity of the product is everything and maintaining, controlling, and monitoring the temperature of products through to their point of delivery – wherever that may be – is where the supply chain adds the most value for many of our customers today and also where it faces the greatest challenges and complexity. It also gives you a sense of where the market is heading. Temperature-controlled products are growing twice as fast as other products in the pharma market. 75% of biopharma and up to 15% of all vaccines, samples, and diagnostic tools require cold chain transportation. With the rise in biopharma, the emergence of therapies that require cryogenic conditions, and the continued global growth of clinical trials, particularly in emerging markets, the need to invest in cold chain and temperature-control solutions is sure to continue.
I hope you have enjoyed this countdown of key priorities. For me, issues five to two are all interlinked – it is about streamlining and optimizing the complex, highly regulated supply chain we see today from manufacturing to pharmacy, hospital or even homes in a way that strikes the right balance between cost and service levels. We must keep in mind that data – or end-to-end digitalization – is the new enabler of all that.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on these trends and any others you consider important that I have not mentioned in this article.
Q. Adrian, we know from our own research on e-commerce1 that escalating consumer expectations are the key challenge for e-commerce businesses. Whether they serve the B2C or B2B market, they are all under pressure to deliver excellent, near-instant service. How is urban distribution evolving to meet these expectations?
When we look at the way urban distribution is evolving, I think we can see three key trends. Firstly, the model for e-fulfillment into metropolitan areas has changed; second, we can see an emerging new ecosystem of fulfillment; and lastly, a mix of new technologies and solutions is helping to support the retail and fulfillment models of the future.
In terms of fulfillment into urbanized, heavily populated areas of course there’s no escaping the influence of Amazon.
It has significantly reduced the time from click-to-door over the years, and has maintained a two- to three-day lead in shipping speed over its competitors. It has done this by transforming its distribution infrastructure and its footprint. Back in 2010 it followed a national strategy in the US with fulfillment centers in states that were chosen for their tax regimes. By 2013 though, it had moved to a regional strategy and started opening facilities in key distribution hubs across the US. More recently, however, it has started opening up more fulfillment centers that are close to metropolitan centers. Its Prime Now centers provide a one to two hour delivery service and it has also started to open up delivery stations, which enable last-mile deliveries.
In a recent survey of power executives conducted by Deloitte, a full 95 percent agreed that digital transformation is a top strategic priority. That’s a pretty convincing stat. But are power companies taking full advantage of the opportunities that Industry 4.0 technologies offer?
Sure, power companies are making progress on digital transformation and many have explored technologies that would be considered disruptive—such as AI, analytics, and machine learning. But, less than half of respondents to the survey chose this as an area they are exploring. What’s more, when asked about what digital capabilities they were most interested in, only about 30 percent of respondents deemed capabilities that used deep analytics and robotics “extremely important.”
What these responses seem to indicate is that while digital transformation is a priority, it may need more traction in the sector to deliver on its true potential. With such revolutionary technologies available, power companies may need to think bigger. But how?
Finding the right opportunities
A range of factors are yielding opportunities in the power sector—from the falling price of renewables to the increasing electrification of the transport and other sectors. Advances in digital technology can spur innovative approaches that can help power companies make the most of these opportunities. Not only can digital technologies help power companies achieve operating efficiencies and remain competitive, but they can also potentially create new value through additional revenue opportunities. Technologies such as AI and IoT are already accelerating the development of new business or operating models that can optimize and augment performance.
In some cases however, these opportunities can be leveraged by new entrants as well. While selling power itself may not be an option in some heavily regulated markets, startups, entrepreneurs, and companies from adjacent industries are ready and willing to take advantage of anything they see as a market opportunity. Already big tech is eyeing ways to use data from smart thermostats and other connected devices in the home.
The digital imperative
The good news is that incumbents have the home field advantage—with assets and customer databases in place as well as strong brand identification in many parts of the world. But this advantage stands only if they are willing to change their culture and move with more purpose into the digital age.
When it comes to the digital transformation continuum, many power companies are still in the exploring phase, dabbling in new technologies—and potentially leaving themselves vulnerable to disruptive entrants. Still others are doing digital “as needed”—implementing one-off digital projects rather than building an enterprise-wide digital strategy and culture.
Power companies need to push past these phases to “becoming digital.” They should consider adopting agile business practices and shifting their mentality toward a more flexible and collaborative environment. For example, instead of delivering one completed project at a time, they could develop the capability to deliver smaller releases more frequently by establishing a “digital foundry.”
While the utility industry is not known for its fast-moving culture—companies can take some concerted action to start their digital journey or keep the journey moving once begun. Here are some steps to consider:
Winning well-paying projects at big companies may soon get easier for highly-skilled, independent professionals.
As Deloitte’s new 2019 Global Human Capital Trends Report points out, the alternative workforce—made up of freelancers, contractors and gig workers—has gone mainstream as talent markets have tightened. Organizations are starting to look more strategically at the full gamut of work arrangements, including alternative ones, as they plan their growth.
With the number of self-employed people in the U.S. expected to hit 42 million by 2020 and freelancers the fastest growing labor group in the U.K., many organizations are starting to embrace the trend when it comes to getting high-level work done. In Deloitte’s survey of nearly 10,000 people in 119 countries, 33% of respondents said their organizations are using alternative work arrangements for IT, 25% for operations, 15% for marketing and 15% for research and development.
What is driving the trend? One factor is the growth of large, general freelance platforms such as Upwork and Fivver. These platforms have increasingly focused on attracting enterprise clients and workers with the capabilities to serve them.
“It’s possible for organizations to tap into these platforms to find highly-skilled workers,” says Steven Hatfield, a principal at Deloitte who is global future of work leader.
Product innovation usually causes a change in your ecosystem. When music became downloadable, this disrupted the market for CDs and DVDs and created a new ecosystem for downloadable music dominated by iTunes and Amazon. The current move from combustion engines to electric vehicles reconfigures the ecosystem of car manufacturers, as new suppliers become relevant for software and electric motors. Manufacturers of gearboxes may lose their established market.
Today, most innovations are digital. Wireless networks, mobile technology, sensor technology, the Internet of Things, AI, autonomous vehicles, robots, blockchain, and 3D printing may cause similar upheavals. Innovations based on digital technology are never constrained to your own company but change your ecosystem or may create a new one. To manage these innovations, you need to revisit the business model of your entire business ecosystem.
However, current business modeling methods like the Business Model Canvas focus on only one company and its context. In this blog, I present a method to model your entire ecosystem, called The Ecosystem Architecture Modeling (TEAM) framework.
But first, what is a business ecosystem?
James Moore defined a business ecosystem as a collection of companies that work cooperatively and competitively to satisfy customer needs. Using insights from Brandenburger & Nalebuff’s book on coopetition, we can distinguish three groups of participants in an ecosystem: players, rule makers and associations.
The players in the ecosystem form a so-called value network.
Rule makers and associations are part of an ecosystem because they determine how the game can be played and how players coordinate.
China has more internet users than any other nation in the world, but there’s still plenty of room for e-commerce to grow. The Chinese e-commerce market is growing at an unfathomable rate: from 160 million online shoppers in 2010 to 530 million in 2017. This drove parcel growth of 28%, to over 100 million per day. Despite the current slowdown in economic growth, China’s e-commerce boom is likely to continue.
Behind the Great Wall, the Chinese have been quietly but rapidly developing very efficient solutions in the last mile. As more and more Chinese people connect to the internet, e-commerce giants like Alibaba and JD.com will continue to expand their end-to-end e-commerce offerings.
The competition between JD.com and Alibaba has created an environment where delivery has become a crucial part of the e-commerce experience. Now here’s the rub: some experts already feel that the e-commerce logistics solutions available in China are world-leading, and we believe they may well be right.
While digital twins have not yet achieved widespread application in logistics, many of the key enabling technologies are already in place. The logistics sector has leveraged sensors to track shipments and more recently machinery and material handling equipment. Today the industry is also increasingly embracing open API strategies and migrating to cloud-based IT systems. Companies
are applying machine learning and advanced analytics techniques to optimize their supply chains and draw new insights from historical shipment and operational data. Logistics professionals are even implementing augmented, mixed, and virtual reality applications for tasks like warehouse picking and vehicle loading as the data from these tasks is well suited to the creation of digital twins in these environments.
Digital twins can ultimately represent any physical thing, from nanomaterials all the way to entire cities. Even human beings and their behaviors have been modeled by digital twins in some cases. Organizations in multiple sectors are developing, testing, and utilizing digital twins within their operations. The following examples show how digital twins have the potential to solve a broad range of business challenges and to unlock many different sources of value.
Read more :
For centuries, people have used pictures and models to help them tackle complex problems. Great buildings first took shape on the architect’s drawing board. Classic cars were shaped in wood and clay.
Over time, our modeling capabilities have become more sophisticated. Computers have replaced pencils. 3D computer models have replaced 2D drawings. Advanced modeling systems can simulate the operation and behavior of a product as well as its geometry.
Until recently, however, there remained an unbridged divide between model and reality. No two manufactured objects are ever truly identical, even if they have been built from the same set of drawings. Computer models of machines don’t evolve as parts wear out and are replaced, as fatigue accumulates in structures, or as owners make modifications to suit their changing needs.
That gap is now starting to close. Fueled by developments in the internet of things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and digital reality technologies, the recent arrival of digital twins heralds a tipping point where
the physical and digital worlds can be managed as one, and we can interact with the digital counterpart of physical things much like we would the things themselves, even in 3D space around us.
Led by the engineering, manufacturing, automotive, and energy industries in particular, digital twins are already creating new value. They are helping companies to design, visualize, monitor, manage, and maintain their assets more effectively. And they are unlocking new business opportunities like the provision of advanced services and the generation of valuable insight from operational data.
As logistics professionals, we have been thinking about how digital twins will change traditional supply chains, and how the logistics sector might embrace digital twins to improve its own processes. Our objective in writing this report is to share our findings and to help you answer the following key questions:
■ What is a digital twin and what does it mean for my organization?
■ What best-practice examples from other industries can be applied to logistics?
■ How will my supply chain change because of digital twins?
Looking ahead, we believe that the adoption of digital twins across industries will drive better decision making in the physical world. That, in turn, will drive significant changes in the operation of supply chains and logistics processes.
In the logistics industry itself, digital twins will extend the benefits of IoT already being applied today. They will bring deeper insight into the planning, design, operation, and optimization of supply chains, from individual assets and shipments to entire global supply networks.
For over 10 years, Google has conducted research under the code name Project Oxygen. The goal? Figuring out what makes the perfect manager, so it could train its leaders to develop those behaviors. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen marked improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance.
Interestingly, technical skill mattered much less than you might guess. What was far more important for managers were emotional intelligence skills--the ability to understand and control emotions (both their own and those of their people).
Check out the 10 behaviors that make up the perfect boss, according to Google:
Logistics is set to undergo the biggest transformation in its history. That’s the headline finding of a survey of more than 10,000 logistics professionals and technology experts. The work, which was conducted by DHL Trend Research, highlights 28 separate trends that are reshaping the sector, grouping them into four primary categories: customer centricity, sustainability, technology and people.
The latest DHL Logistics Trend Radar report is the fourth in a series that has been running since 2013. The research is developed through the analysis of mega- and microtrends as well as direct input from partners, including research institutes, tech players, startups and customers. Most of the insights are collected firsthand from over 10,000 logistics professionals and technology experts who visit the DHL Innovation Centers each year. The findings are then aggregated and reflected on the Logistics Trend Radar, which acts as a dynamic and strategic foresight tool that tracks the evolution of trends spotted in earlier editions and identifies promising new trends with every update.
“Our Logistics Trend Radar acts as a roadmap for innovation, helping to structure and catalyze further industry-leading research and projects together with our customers and partners,” says Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Innovation & Commercial Development, DHL. “In this edition, we focus strongly on the digital revolution happening in the industry and its impact across four key elements defining the future of logistics.”
Read more : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2017.06.005
In recent years very interesting and popular solution became the parcel lockers as the efficient last mile delivery system. This paper is focused on the analysis of usability and efficiency of this measure based on the example of Polish InPost Company system. It introduces the results of pilot survey realized in Szczecin (Poland), as well as the general expectations regarding the efficient utilization of this kind of solution.
Due to e-commerce’s generic specificity, its functioning on B2C market is based on home deliveries. It is possible to divide home deliveries into three categories:
A popular solution among customers, due to its convenience, is direct home delivery usually realized by external courier services. One of the biggest problems with the organization of the supply of goods to customers in ecommerce is that there is a significant fragmentation of the orders. Individual customers usually buy small amounts of products, while expecting fast delivery. This forces the competitive market of transport services to respond dynamically to the emerging demand for transport.
Therefore, one of the most important categories of good practices in current urban freight transport systems become solutions to rationalize the last mile delivery. The key solutions of this type include:
Parcel lockers as the last mile delivering system
Functioning of parcel lockers:
To a large extent using parcel lockers aims at delivering parcels in e-commerce. Customers send parcels using customer’s account, previously created on the system operator’s website. After payment and preparation of special label affixed to the parcel, it is sent either personally by the sender through the chosen parcel locker or received by an employee of the InPost Company. Collecting the parcel involves the following steps:
The above procedure usually takes about several seconds. The customer has 3 days to collect the shipment from the selected parcel locker. If a package is not collected within this period, it will be transported to the nearest branch of InPost. In order to ensure the safety of both the senders as well as consumers, parcel lockers are placed in the monitored locations (e.g. petrol stations, 24h car parks, supermarkets). In addition, each machine of InPost is equipped with 4 video cameras and alarm system. According to the data available on the website of InPost, at the end of February 2013 the company had 631 stations in 181 Polish cities. It is worth noting that this solution is also available in many other countries.
With the selection of appropriate locations, parcel lockers can provide not only significant economic benefits, but also, or even primarily, they can have a positive impact on the reduction of pollutants emitted into the environment by urban freight transport.
Parcel lockers in practice – the drivers and barriers:
Parcel lockers seem to be a very interesting and innovative solution for any type of city, beneficial to both customers and online stores. Taking into account the growing number of B2C e-commerce customers, this measure meets the needs of present and future society. It gives many benefits, such as:
Efficiency of parcel lockers – case of Szczecin
Influence of parcel lockers on reduction of negative environmentally impact of urban freight transport:
The most important aim of parcel lockers’ implementation is to reduce the number of deliveries in the city area, including failed deliveries and the subsequent return of goods by couriers and postal services. It helps to reduce unnecessary vehicle mileage with associated energy use and congestion impacts. According to the results of analysis made by researchers, the courier servicing InPost parcel lockers is able to deliver 600 parcels in just one day, with travel distance of about 70 km in comparison to respectively 60 parcels and 150 km in traditional delivery system
The importance of proper location of parcel lockers on their efficiency:
The most important factor of efficient utilization of parcel lockers is their proper localization in the city area. According to data received from InPost Company, the best locations for this kind of measure are related to availability of
The other most important reasons for parcel lockers’ utilization are their availability and localization. The most important expectations of parcel lockers’ users regarding the localization include: close location from home, on the way to work and availability of parking spaces
To assess the influence of locations of parcel lockers on their efficiency, the experiment regarding relocation of chosen machines were realized in Szczecin. Based on the analysis of monthly number of parcels delivered by each parcel locker, the set of the most and the least popular machines was prepared
It seems to be the major direction for the shaping of future delivering systems in cities and good opportunity to reduce their negative environmental impact.
Selecting a group or groups as the target customer(s) of a particular business as well as which of their needs to fulfill, the decision as to what product(s) or service(s) to create and their specifications, the method or procedure of delivering to the selected customer(s) and eventually, how the business owners’ share of this creation and delivery is to be collected can be suggested as the concept of ‘Business Model’ agreed on by the majority of experts in this field. Three important points should be noted here: firstly, regardless of the nature of a business or organization – whether it is nonprofit or profitmaking, state-owned or private, small or large, old or new – it must follow a particular business model or simply put, have their own business model; secondly, it is sometimes the case that an organization has not made an adequate choice of its business model and the members of the organization have no common and clear understanding of it; and thirdly, it is necessary to assure the viability of an organization’s business model to deal with its external environment by using the right assessment procedure(s).
An absence of a common and clear understanding among the managers of an organization will render them unable to adapt to the external environment which in turn, will result in their failure to recreate their business model at the right them and when such need arises and this is where their business model will start to be challenged. This can be more simply explained using a number of possible scenarios which could shed further light on the topic: it is possible that the customer we have initially selected for our business model is no longer the best choice under the new conditions, so does exist the possibility that to our inattention, the customers’ needs have changed over time; or our way of creation, delivery, and ownership of value might have been worn out because of our possible oblivion to the innovations in the field of business models. In short, if seeking success and dynamism, it is essential for the managers of organizations to constantly and continually re-identify their business models in order to reach a common understanding of it, and in addition to carefully analyzing the external business environment circumstances, make sure that theirs is well-adapted to the current situation, thus recreating their business model at the right time if deemed necessary.
How can managers of an organization reach a common understanding of its business model?
A tool is needed for this purpose which is both capable of data visualization as well as generating an integrated image of the business model in question. Many such tools have been suggested in the past decade or so with the most famous one being the Business Model Canvas proposed by Alexander Osterwalder in 2009.
However, merely having such a tool does not suffice as the procedure is also very important. Formation of an appropriate focus group to describe or design a business model indeed precedes tool selection. A good focus group would consist of 4 to 12 members from among the managers and supervisors of a business in addition to a few experts. This group is led by two moderators: one being an Internal Moderator, well-acquainted with both the internal and external environment of the business while another is an External Moderator who is required to be familiar professionally and at the same time academically with the necessary body of science related to business models.
Focus group brainstorming discussions are led by these two moderators.
After describing the merits of the existing business model or designing a new one, the focus group then identifies and analyzes the external environmental circumstances of a business and ultimately, assesses the adaptability of the business model to them.
Founders of Fakher Holding have been well-aware of the necessity of a business model since the very beginning and therefore months before the establishment of Novin Idea Fakher Iranian (NIFI) – the mother company in Fakher Holding – regular meetings on the topic of business model of NIFI were held with the presence of Dr. Fakher – Chairman of the Board – and Mr. Kashani – CEO – and myself. Other senior managers of the company gradually joined this business model focus group. As a result, Fakher Holding at its beginning already possessed a business model designed by the focus group and approved by the board of directors. The current organization chart, procedures, and activities of the company have all been based on and guided by this business model. A very important step over the last three years signifying the attitude of Fakher Holding toward business models has been the emphasis and attention of its founders on recreating the business models of the older, better-known companies under itself including the two companies of Tipax and Octiran in addition to designing and approving a business model prior to starting any new businesses. At the moment, every single company under Fakher Holding has either a pre-designed or recreated and approved business model which regulates all the activities within the company including drawing up business plan(s), organizational hierarchy structure and procedures as well as target setting, and budgeting.
The 2041 Vision of the founders and senior management of Fakher Holding is to have over one million businesses in the Fakher Business Ecosystem (FBS), all of which possessing a deep knowledge of their business models, adapting it to the changing external environment, creating, and delivering value to the end-users of the Ecosystem.
One of the fundamental principles reminded times and again in all the teachings on the concept of business model is that a given business model is incapable of operating in a vacuum, and rather it is in a larger society comprising of other business models that it can work or in other words, materialize the creation, delivery, and ownership of value. In such a large society of business models known as a business ecosystem, various models interact with each other, rely on one another, and collaboratively create value for the end-users of the ecosystem as well as simultaneously competing and developing together.
Architecting, designing, implementing, and strategizing the ecosystem of Fakher’s Business Ecosystem (FBE) is the most important value that Novin Idea Fakher Iranian (NIFI) offers to its main group of clients – the shareholders.
FBE is a large society of firms which using complementary business models, create value for the customers and end-users of the ecosystem. The architectural design of the FBE is currently going through its finalization stage.
Upon a clearance by the CEO of NIFI, further details about the FBE will be publicized in the near future.
Careful, detailed observation of the economies of advanced nations reveal a common trait of the presence of well-managed business ecosystems, each consisting of a large number of well-structured networks.
Considering the trend of business models and the emergence of their controlled society in the Fakher Holding over the past few years, I am very optimistic of the formation of the FBE (Fakher Business Ecosystem) in the coming years as well as its positive impacts on the national economy of Iran. One of the main outcomes of the FBE on Iran’s economy would be increased opportunities for new businesses resulting in lower unemployment as an important economic indicator.
Naturally, a better economy will improve the quality of life for every individual in the society; however, our main objective in the Fakher Holding is to expand the number of businesses who learn to continually adapt their business models to the changing environment resulting in their survival and in turn, contribution to guaranteeing the health and integrity of the ecosystem as a whole in the process.
Digitized aisles, farm-to-store food tracking, service robots, and cashless check-outs, Alibaba’s plans to re-invent offline retail are already well underway
Ever since Jack Ma coined the term “New Retail” at an investor briefing in 2016, you would be remiss not to notice the phrase at every subsequent briefing, presentation and correspondence from the company since. That’s because Alibaba, who built their reputation in online commerce, have identified New Retail as a core pillar and launching point for their “New Five” strategy, areas of strategic importance the company believe will allow them to continue to spread Alibaba’s ecosystem of services not just in China but globally.
While many praise Amazon for their attempts to blend offline and online retail through Amazon Go, in more ways than one they are playing catch up to Alibaba. The company’s internet powered supermarket, Hema Xiansheng first launched in 2016, and is now rapidly scaling throughout China. Despite this, many are not aware of its existence and (more so) its features and functionality — a recent trip to Shanghai brought an opportunity to show Hema and all its inner-working up close.
WHAT IS NEW RETAIL?
For the unfamiliar, New Retail refers to the fusion of e-commerce with brick & mortar retail through integrating both online and offline experiences and services across a single value chain. Often associated with, but different to, the original term “O2O” (Offline to Online), New Retail looks to change the engagement paradigm we have with retail by bringing the best of both worlds together, including logistics, data, payments, smart hardware and more.
It may seem like an odd space for an online titan like Alibaba to get involved in. After all, online sales penetration in China is the highest in the world, and the company operates the country’s largest e-commerce platforms, already serving over half a billion customers. Despite this, brick and mortar retail still astoundingly accounts for over 80% of total retail sales in China. We see a similar narrative in the US — offline retail still dominates.
If Alibaba wants to increase share of wallet among consumers, and continue to evangelize its services (cloud, logistics, payments etc.) then getting a strong foothold in the offline retail world is going to be of critical importance.
One of Hema’s Shanghai locations
“We believe the future of New Retail will be a harmonious integration of online and offline, and Hema is a prime example of this evolution that’s taking place”
Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group
As of October 2018, Alibaba already has 87 Hema stores in China, with plans to open 2000 more in the next 3–5 years. These 87 stores are not scaled down or sandboxed projects — they are live, fully functioning and equipped to serve the mass-market. In a time where tech giants across the world have thrown their name in the hat to re-invent offline retail, the sheer number of market-tested stores that already exist give Alibaba a significant advantage over everyone else.
The store serves 3 core functions:
What ties these functions together is Hema’s own native app. It enables virtually everything for the customer. The entire experience from payments, product discovery, in-store research and more is bound together by mobile. If you are a customer of any of Alibaba’s services such as Alipay or Tmall/Taobao, your details, preferences, and spending history can all be linked directly, allowing the app to understand the type of customer you are and what you could be looking for, based on your activity across these platforms and services.
DIGITIZED AISLES AND BARCODES
Every product in the store is equipped with a price tag and a corresponding barcode and QR code. These price tags are actually internet connected “e-ink” tags that allow pricing to change dynamically depending on supply and demand. This comes into use for fresh/new/in-season goods (particularly seafood) and for popular goods that are also available on the Hema app.
Most aisles are also equipped with large touchscreens. These touchscreens give an overview of the products in that aisle, show recommendations for similar products, suggest pairings, and show which products are the most popular — they can even be segmented by popularity among age group.
SCAN FOR INFORMATION
Scanning the code on the price tag with the Hema app takes the customer to an individual product page that contains all the information recorded for that product (this goes a step beyond for fresh food, more on this below).
Chinese consumers take fresh very seriously, and so does Hema. In a country where food safety and transparency is such a contentious issue, this was an area that had to be built out thoughtfully. Virtually all fresh food has a feature that unpacks the entire farm to store journey of that particular item. As you can observe above, for items like fresh meat, vegetables, seafood, you as a customer will be able to scan every product barcode and see:
Farm to store tracking
Chinese consumers take fresh very seriously, and so does Hema. In a country where food safety and transparency is such a contentious issue, this was an area that had to be built out thoughtfully. Virtually all fresh food has a feature that unpacks the entire farm to store journey of that particular item. As you can observe above, for items like fresh meat, vegetables, seafood, you as a customer will be able to scan every product barcode and see:
The product origin
The producer/company name and background
For meat, the life of that animal (what date and time it arrived at the farm or when it was born, what date and time it was slaughtered, when and where it was transported to and from). The timestamps for some products are accurate to the second
Transport information such as the license plate of the truck, or the temperature inside the truck for items that need to travel under cold storage
Official scanned copies of food safety certificates and business licenses complete with an official government seal
Arrival date in-store so customers can assess freshness
Me stamped produce information including the farm/factory and official food safety certificates.
COOK YOUR GROCERIES
One of the standout attractions at any Hema is the fresh seafood section. Built across a large open area, customers can openly browse, research and inspect their seafood up close, something that is very important to Chinese consumers. Despite seafood being flown in from all over the world, if it is in the store, it was caught within the last 72 hours — guaranteed.
Produce from the seafood area can be purchased normally or even delivered to your home. However, you also have the option to have it prepared and cooked on the spot according to your liking by one of the various restaurants in the store and enjoy it there.
RESTAURANT (WITH ROBOTS)
Every Hema store comes equipped with customer dining areas, however this Hema in particular is the first one to launch its very own robot restaurant, Robot.he. Access is simple, scan with your phone to get a table number, go to that table, scan another QR code at the base of that table and access the full in-store menu. There you can place your order, including with the fresh produce from the seafood area.
When ready, food is placed on robots that resemble Roombas by chefs, and make their way directly to your table. It is a coordinated and efficient process that frees up time spent with waiters on ordering and paying. With the automation of the front end of restaurant service already in motion, one wonders how long before this will start encroach into the back-end of food preparation.
Hema stores do have staff like regular supermarkets, but you will quickly notice most of them keeping busy, zipping around the store filling bags with various goods. This is because every Hema store also serves as a distribution center that collects, fulfills and delivers customers online orders.
For customers that live within a 3km radius to a store, Hema enables delivery to the customer within 30 minutes. Staff fulfilling these orders in store look to gather items ordered in 7 minutes or less. Recently, Hema expanded its 30-minute delivery service to operate almost 24 hours a day — with service being added between 10pm and 7am. Also, cooked meals are available for delivery until 1am.
After orders are picked by staff they are placed on conveyor belts that run across the store’s ceiling, transporting them in full view (and above customer’s heads) to the back of the store. The back of the store is where the orders are packed into boxes and sent to customer’s doorsteps.
Self-Service checkout stations are the norm at Hema. It’s a quick, easy and seamless process that even allows customers to “pay by face”, leveraging Alipay’s facial recognition payment technology. The entire experience requires no cash.
An interesting tidbit we noticed was actually how little check-out counters there were despite the size of the store. There were also no signs of lines or people turning to in-store staff, it seems the lack of checkout counters is a deliberate tactic to encourage shoppers to order online and go deeper into their ecosystem of services, particularly logistics. This was referenced at Alibaba’s latest investor event where they cited 60% of all orders in Hema stores are placed online.
A FEW LAST THOUGHTS
Hema in many ways serves a fourth, less obvious function — that as an experiential retail platform. Alibaba’s vision for New Retail goes beyond Hema but what Hema provides is an excellent testing bed for future products/services. I expect a multitude of different services to make its way through Hema, including: computer vision cameras, in-store social plus experiences, personalized subscription based deliveries, and more.
Alibaba’s Tao Cafe is another new retail store currently operating, albeit at a much smaller scale than Hema. Much of Tao Cafe is similar to the Amazon Go approach of no cashier, walk in and out by being automatically charged- leveraging cameras and sensors as well as real-time customer data to power the experience.
Starbucks and Alibaba inked a partnership earlier this year that looks to supposedly “Transform the coffee industry in China”. One of these partnership outlets includes Starbucks is bringing its own “Starbucks Delivery Kitchens” to Hema, which will feature robots combined with mobile-based orders, and deliveries.
Hema is certainly a transformative experience compared to the current retail paradigm. However, in many ways its mission is not to create shock and awe among consumers, but demonstrate how technology that we already see being used in the world today can seamlessly integrate into a practiced experience and make that experience infinitely better.
The future of retail is already happening, it’s in China — and Alibaba is leading the way.
If going into work feels like slogging through mud, you may be making your job (and your life) harder than it needs to be.
When you're struggling with your career, everything in life can feel out of whack, and your feelings can snowball until you really hate work. Such a situation can lead to burnout , weak job performance, and eventually, getting fired or needing to quit .
But almost any situation on the job can be improved if you just get out of your own way.
Here are four ways you're making your job harder than it needs to be, and how to fix them:
You're putting off tackling difficult tasks
As best-selling author and time management expert Brian Tracy wrote, " Start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first."
The concept, also known as "eating a frog," is said to have come from Mark Twain. If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, you can generally be sure that it's the worst thing you'll have to do all day. Once you have accomplished this, the other tasks won't seem as difficult, and it should be smooth sailing for the rest of the day.
Look at your to-do list every day and figure out the most difficult things on the list. Get them done and out of the way right off the bat. Don't procrastinate - that will just prolong your suffering, reduce your productivity, and get in your way until you have finished it.
You isolate yourself instead of reaching out for help
You can't do it all yourself, and you will get more done if you trust your colleagues and direct reports to take on some of the work.
Inga Beale, chief executive at Lloyd's of London, told the New York Times in 2017 that her secret to success is to " surround yourself with the best people you can find and empower them."
You may feel that you can do everything better than anyone else, but let go of some of your perfectionism to allow someone else's way to be good enough. And if they fail - that's the best way to learn, right? Find a way to work with the people around you, rather than feeling threatened by them.
According to a study from Stanford University, just the feeling of working together with others can increase motivation when working alone and help turn "work into play."
Working together not only increases the enjoyment of work, but it can also improve workplace relationships, which in turn can improve trust, foster greater creativity, and even improve your health.
You struggle with indecision
If you have decisions to make at work, and you spend time agonizing over finding the very best choice in a situation, you can drive yourself crazy. You could also be setting yourself up for more misery later.
As Tim Herrera, the founding editor of Smarter Living, wrote in the New York Times, trying to find the absolute best choice may lead to " indecision, regret and even lower levels of happiness ." People who insist on finding the absolute best solution to a problem tend to be less satisfied with their choices than people who make quicker decisions.
Try to make a good decision, one where you will be fine with the outcome. Then move on to other tasks. You'll waste less time and feel better, too.
You make your life all about work
When you spend time away from your work, you come back to it refreshed and with new perspectives.
Keep a barrier between your "off" self and your work self, and get some balance in your life. A study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that pleasurable leisure activities improve not just mental health, but physical health as well.
Happy people are more productive workers, as a study at Warwick University found. With no down time to refresh, you just bring a burned-out shell to work every day, and that burned-out you is making your job harder. Bring a better you to your job, and you'll get more done with ease.
Our keys to Survival
In Iran, the number of companies that have been operating continuously for half a century is few and far between. Tipax is alive and this is because we put our heart and soul into our work.
In the 60's and with regard to the problems we faced in the Iran-Iraq war, it was not efficient for our company to continue its activity. But my father, as the founder of Tipax, spent a large part of his capital to survive this company.
Some of my friends and colleagues believe that this interest in the post industry has also penetrated in my gene.
I think it is true. I love this industry. I've always been with my father experimenting all parts of this work with him, from writing a contract to loading trucks. I also spent a lot of time in the UK, studying the postal industry in the world and my goal was always to return back to my country and introduce a modern postal service to Iran.
As one of my friends said once,
"it is my mission to improve postal and courier service round-the-clock.”
Tipax international is coming back
Tipax was the only option for international post and parcel in 50’s in Iran, however, we suspended our international department due to some issues.
Nowadays, we are going to open our Tipax international again and we had negotiations with the countries of the region.
Need to improve the standards in the postal industry
Unfortunately, our people do not get standard postal services. Although UPU (Universal Postal Union), has defined standards for the provision of postal services, and anyone who works in this area is required to comply with this standard, it not the case in Iran.
In Tipax, we're trying to offer different services from the past. We are now the only company to offer all processes in an automated method. The issue of paper sheets in Tipax has been completely stopped. Before this strategic change, our paper consumption was as much as a bank.
In our view, the services we provide are not enough and we need to have a variety of services to meet the demands of our customers.
In this regard, Tipax customer service has launched a system to record and track customer complaints. We have recently launched the Customer Care unit in our marketing department as well.
For the environment and to reduce our carbon Footprint, we are ready for electrification of our vehicles and it needs some infrastructure and governmental support.
A package can be shipped by bus, for example, at cheaper prices than Tipax. However, maintaining the security of the parcel is very important and, of course, a bus has no facilities and expert staff for parcel delivery. In this wrong way of shipment, the package may be damaged and no insurance will cover this damage.
In Tipax, as one of the right ways of shipping parcels, people can call one of our branches or ask our staff through My Tipax application (in the near future) to deliver their parcel. Our shipping calculator estimates the time and cost of delivery based on the destination and service. This parcel is shipped in a standard method and delivered on time.
Tipax in 1397
First 6 months of the year was very challenging for us. We launched our modern Hub.
One of our challenges was our technical challenge in the hardware and software sector.
But more important than the above, any change is accompanied by resistance. Some of the colleagues inside the company resisted these changes. Some of them suggested that we should again use those traditional processes. Some believe that Tipax is dying.
“But we accepted The Winds of Change. We believed if we fail to establish a new system today, we will never succeed.”
Now, through 300 branches in 220 cities to 250 cities in the country, we have about 50,000 shipments per day.
The position of TIPAX in the postal industry in the country
According to experts and even our competitors, Tipax is the market leader Courier service in Iran. However, we can take more market share by providing new services.
Our major challenges for the next year
From our big challenges and, of course, my personal challenges in the coming year is we have a lot of developmental plans and we are keen to implement them as soon as possible, and we have very limited time.
the average age of our colleagues in the headquarters has reached the age of under 35 and the employment of young and educated staff is one of our challenges this year.
Finally, I think that our ultimate challenge will be healthy competition with other industry players.
Said Mehrdad Fakher, the chairman of the board of The first private post operator of Iran.
This is the first official talk of the Tipax magazine focused on "the Private Post Operator".
_Dear Dr. Fakher, the Chairman of the Board of Directors in the first private post operator in the country. It is now about six months that the first private post operator of Iran got its license. Which progress has been made in the establishment and launch of this operator?
- The main part of this question should be answered by the CEO of the Operator, Mr. Rezaei, because he and his executive team are the leaders, and they are aware of the details of the progress in work more than me.
Yet, I could mention that during this six months the operator has been completed its structure and tried to study and evaluate the exact situation of the postal and courier industry of the country.
We are doing so to provide the optimal business model in accordance with the postal conditions in Iran and international environment with respect to the goals of Fakher Holding.
Post is a dynamic industry in the world. Our government’s decision to reduce its size is a key strategy for the dynamic and progress in this industry. The government and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have made great efforts to achieve this goal.
It is now the duty of the private sector to demonstrate the outcome of this process in the society through its experiences and agility.
However, this will only happen with continued government and parliament supports.
Businesses that they want but cannot connect to the post!
- What is the operator's position on the roadmap of Fakher Holding? What are the goals of Fakher Holding for the Operator?
-What is considered for the operator in the main Holdings strategy is the development of business communications from the perspective of logistics and courier services. This is only possible by creating more opportunities for the profitability of these businesses. Opportunities such as potential postal customers, the discovery of dark markets, or the new services are resulting from the synergy of these businesses.
For example, value-added services (VAS) for postal businesses in many developed countries, help to increase business revenues and the aggregation of services.
The transfer is no longer the only duty of the post. Therefore, the operator should not only focus on the development of postal service quantity, but also should pay attention to basic postal services.
Certain things may seem obvious to businessmen or businesses that deal with the post and courier industry.
For example, it is clear that for improving the quality of mail services, several factors could be important for the receiver or sender at the time of sending, length of route or receipt. There are many factors such as speed and time of shipment, trustee, safety and protection of the package from damage, cost of delivery, ease of delivery and etc.
But what is not very clear is that many of these variables are directly or indirectly affected by the infrastructure. And if we do not improve the infrastructure, both consumers and businesses could not reach the goals that I said.
These infrastructures include communication and information technology infrastructure, transport infrastructure, infrastructures for financial exchange, legal issues, insurance and etc.
It could be interesting for many audiences that in several countries the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is integrated with the Ministry of Roads and has one minister.
Of course, it is clear that the operator cannot enter and operate in many of these cases. This means that the operator becomes the designer and implementer of a standard and up-to-date system, based on the local and national characteristics of our country.
The postal industry of our country and especially its private sector work locally and are almost unfamiliar with the international work space due to various reasons such as the traditional background of our postal activity, sanctions and many other problems.
As a result of low quality indicators and standards, we won’t be able to connect to the international market. We need to communicate with international companies to improve quantitative and qualitative indicators of the postal service. In this regard, it is imperative to have new and up-to-date systems and methods.
Here I would like to provide an example of one of the most important business topics which is e-commerce. E-commerce is one of the businesses that has entered and developed in Iran without considering the standard logistic infrastructures.
Online stores have developed the platform and user interface (UI) and financial transactions, but did not do nothing about goods exchange, supply chain and logistics and they failed to adapt themselves to the infrastructure. This causes dissatisfaction and, as a result, brand loses its attractions for the customer.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba in China, points out this with a theory called “the Iron Triangle”. The triangle is a combination of e-commerce, logistics and finance.
It is very important that startups and new businesses, whether they are in the start-up phase or in the process of development, can get help from specialized consultancies and tailor their services to the standards of logistics systems. This can be a key opportunity for the operator to be one of these references.
The spectrum of these businesses is wide in terms of the financial outcomes and other terms such as cultural, geographic, age and diversity of business itself. For example, for a person working with a van on Mellat Street, who loads goods for three cities, it's a nightmare to hear the name of an operator. The use of terms such as standardization and the organization of the courier structure means bureaucracy and the fear of costs for that person and he thinks he has no profit from it. However, if we can fit ourselves with his mindset, he will come to us and accept our plan. We must first know his needs. This person does not have any insurance for a rainy day and there is no guarantee for those goods which carry from Tehran to specific cities in the country. There is no improvement for his income and If he wants to talk to his child about his job, he does not have a clear title or vision. These are all the pain points of our audience. This person is a small courier system which is an unstable one.
This instability can harm his own family, customers and society. The operator is responsible to organize this situation. And this position should be properly explained by the public relations and brand management specialists of the operator.
For a person working with a van on Mellat Street, who loads goods for three cities, it's a nightmare to hear the name of an operator.
-What do you expect as the chairman of the Board of Operator from its managers and staff?
- First of all, I want from management, and then from the public relations department of the operator, holding, Tipax and its other sister companies to clarify any ambiguity regarding the role and position of the operator. Many of the staff in the Holding congratulated me, put the posters in their branches, and were pleased that the Holding family has received the license of the first private postal operator. However, perhaps if one of their customers asks them about the operator, they cannot provide an explanation about the position and roles of the operator. Or worse than this, they give an explanation that is false and damages the operator's brand.
For example, one of the old employees of the branches told me: "It would be good if the operator lunches. nobody can threaten our business and smuggle”. Yet, this volume of investment and activities is not supposed to make us a so called “Big brother” in the postal industry.
As one of the major policymakers, I say that this is a wrong illustration about the operator. This the is not mission and vision of the operator that we want to stablish in the post industry. The operator should help small businesses, local couriers and even the government to expand their market and connect properly to the supply chain. If we were unable to build this platform, we could not properly capture the main task of the operator.
We should not destroy the brand of the “Operator”!
- What is the relationship between of the brand of Tipax and the Operator?
- Tipax has more than half a century experiences in the field of courier service, and perhaps this has also contributed to building the trust with the government and obtaining technical license. However, Tipax, TPX, or any other company that wants to participate in the post and courier services are the target audience for these development strategies of operator.
The certain position of operator is the organizer of the whole system of postal and courier service. In order to establish a transparent and fair order, it must behave in a way that all activists can achieve a win-win business. This this is only possible when we treat Tipax, TPX and other sister companies in the holding_ that interact with the postal system_ in a fair and honest way.
For example, one of the most important ethical principles in the operator is keeping the information of businesses secret. For that reason, the entire operator structure is designed and managed independently.
Even the majority of operator’s staff do not have any record as Tipax employees. The first principle of working in a healthy environment is to keep business data safe.
a continuous and win-win relationship requires fairness
- Can you explain about the name and the brand of the operator and its situation?
- We had good negotiations with reputable and experienced agencies for brand and naming and we also signed a contract. Good signs and logos are also designed. I hope their information programs are well implemented so that they can communicate with their main audience.
-Can I ask your opinion or, more precisely, your feelings about the post industry in Iran?
- According to my information, Iran has the first postal system in the world.
“...neither snow nor rain nor heat nor dark of night will keep these swift messengers from the accomplishment of their appointed rounds."
I'm proud to see this statement from Herodotus, which is installed on the door of the post office of James Farley in New York City, USA.
This sentence could be the slogan of the “Chapars” about 2500 years ago for the postal system that the Iranians invented and developed.
However, we are not proud of the todays status of post industry in Iran. I do not want to give you an exaggerated overview of the numbers and figures that managers provide from post and logistics.
We can say that, our rank is about 50th in the world in terms of quantity and number of postal items and a little higher than Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the region.
Moreover, we can say that the average delivery of items per person in Iran is about 8 packets per year, while the index is 50 in the world and we are far away from the first rank, the United States, with about 1000 items per year per person, or Switzerland which has the next rank with about 800 items per year per person.
The standard we need to reach is the Iranian satisfaction smile that we are still far from it!
I do not want to make a black-out or projection. Obviously, our current post, which has been re-launched and developed since the Qajar dynasty, is still young and endures harsh conditions such as sanctions and international pressures. I was born and raised in a post related family. my problem with the current status of the post is from qualitative rather than quantitative perspectives.
To assess the status of the post, it's enough to ask the micro-customers or businesses that deal with the courier and Post industry. Then we realize that we are still far from the standards we need to comply with. The result of that standard is the satisfaction of Iranians. Our people deserve more quality than what our post have today.
I am always proud of the post history in Iran. We can only pass this test if we will answer the needs of our ordinary customers, large businesses and International exchange in their desired quality.
God willing, with the support of authorities, your guidance and the efforts of your colleagues, we will achieve this great goal. Thank you for providing us and our audience with your time. Hopefully, we'll have another opportunity to get to know more about the details of your personal strategy in the field of Courier and Post.
It is a pleasure for me. Thank you and all the activists in the field of post and information.
Good bye and God bless you
On the pretext of interviewing the Future Banking Magazine.
Does Tipax or Fakher holding use the latest technology?
Many of my colleagues know that I believe in one principle which is the Change. In my opinion, when the change occurs, there are three categories of people:
The first category is omitted, the second group which accepts the change will remain in the path and can continue. But the third category, which is the cause of change, can lead the businesses.
Considering Tipax, due to its first presence in Iran's Private Post, it is a brand that has been shown to be the creator and the agent of change. But we need to consider that the speed of development is high. In order to keep Tipax or other holding’s companies alive and as the "leader" of Courier Services, they should continue to seek changes.
What programs have you implemented for this change?
JET system, I think, is one of the best examples of this. The mission of this system is receiving and recording items in a network-based dataset for digital tracking.
Moreover, the establishment of the first fully automatic hub in the Middle East called "T-hub", brands like Tinext, which is an intelligent assistant startup for businesses and customers, and other new sister companies of Tipax in Fakher holding, are the signs of the implementation of those programs in the changing direction that I mentioned before.
We have to be geared toward digital technology and to stay as the business leader by localizing these technologies for Iran, the region, and in some cases for the entire postal and logistics industry.
What happened in sending and receiving methods in physical and virtual areas after Shedding skin in Postal industry. What is the Fakher holding’s policy in this regard?
I read an article from Forbes magazine sometimes ago, which showed that in a survey from senior executive transportation managers, 65 percent of them believe that this decade will be a renaissance in the supply chain, transport, and logistics.
At the first level, the whole circular process of the data from the touch points to the distribution and tracking of items during the transfer should be electronic.
On the second level, the work begins on the data itself. Data mining, artificial intelligence, and deep learning about items are one of the most important horizons of increased productivity in the logistics industry of the world.
In the Fakher Holding, experts in the fields of information science and data are focusing on the localization of these technologies and methods.
T-Hub is the first split-off system form “Afraz Payaneh Iranian” company. It is one of the sister companies in Fakher holding, which is responsible for setting up and managing postal distribution hubs.
Finally, the third level of this skin shedding or changes is actually the fourth industrial revolution. The presence of the Internet of Things and the development of Internet networks are on the cutting edge of science.
What strategies have become the top priority for businesses like Tipax in their business model?
The focus on the development of business communications from the simultaneous perspective of information and logistics is our main strategy. This is only achievable by creating more opportunities for the profitability of these businesses. Opportunities such as potential postal customers, the discovery of dark markets, the new services provided by these companies, and so on.
Moreover, more interaction with the international business environment is also our core strategy.
Our other strategy, as I said earlier, has been to focus on electronic businesses as well as other activities. Developing a distribution system for postal items, developing an e-commerce management system, and other programs in this regard are examples of these programs in our strategy.
In the postal sector, the sensitivity of the customer is more than other industries. what are strategies of Tipax in this regard?
I am born and raised in a postal family. The motto of Tipax indicates our sensitivity to the customer that my family and I are very determined about it. Our slogan was: "speed, accuracy, and security" and it is now “leave it to us”.
if you look carefully, all of these words are based on customer needs and demands, and our customer-oriented programs are based on these three principles.
Would you please tell us more about Tipax Company?
Tipax is almost 60 years old and is one of the most valuable brands in Iran. This brand has emerged as a courier system and point-to-point transportation in the logistics industry of Iran. Many international multibillion-dollar companies like DHL, FedEx, Ups, and TNT are active in this field. Yet, it’s interesting to know that Tipax is older than all of these brands!
Brand life is one of the most important brand value indices, yet Tipax does not want to boost its age and put it at its core. But is determined to improve its productivity through new solutions, and to play an effective role in restoring Iran's postal industry.
Fakher Holding has been established with the aim of creating a business ecosystem in the specialized fields of post, logistics, e-commerce, manufacturing and trades. Our main goal is creation of new businesses in aforementioned fields and provide products and services in the context of those businesses. Beside creation of new job opportunities, Fakher holding task is creation of appropriate infrastructure, based on information Technology which will result to life welfare level upgrade. Our main strategy is to attract creative ideas, investors, advisers and experts. We endeavor to take solid step towards our mission to upgrade Iran’s economy and welfare.
Fakher Holding has been established with the mission of formation and management of Fakher ecosystem and strategic management of her subsidiaries and affiliates. Fakher holding is determined to create new businesses and develop appropriate infrastructure, to form a comprehensive exchange of values among people, government and suppliers of goods and services.
|Fakher Holding has been established with the mission of formation and management of Fakher ecosystem|
|We embrace new thoughts, concepts and ideas. Our value is to thrive, nourish and shape quality businesses and empower Fakher ecosystem.|
Fakher holding considers the organizational culture, as a sharable and transferable pattern. Special architecture of human resources, tailored to the goals of the Holding, directs realization of the new organizational concepts.