Under the hood of the old and new: Transport Management software today
The problems inherent in some technology investments only come to light when organizations try to reflect a significant business change in their expensive software or hardware platforms. Common junctures are after a merger or acquisition between logistics and supply chain companies, when the business must grow quickly, or when they decide to break new ground into a different territory or market. Trying to adapt older technology to serve new situations in today’s fulfillment and transport businesses proves to be a significant headache. In some cases, many inherent problems come to light that weren’t massive issues: the sort of issues that people “put up with” in the past but are raised because of decision-makers’ focus on a misfiring technology stack.
The biggest bugbears come from changing multiple point products so they might work together more effectively or from monolithic systems (like ERP platforms) that are cumbersome — and expensive — to adapt. In many cases, bespoke changes already made to legacy systems impede further progress and certainly stop a business from being truly agile. Then too, there are the problems associated with data silos in a business, and therefore the inherent difficulties integrating these silos into wide supply chain eco-systems.
Traditional transport and logistics management systems may have been conceived and developed before many of the current must-haves for companies in the sector appeared. For example, software and hardware created before the era of omnichannel retail make the “normalities” of returns and purchases mixed between online and brick and mortar hugely problematic to cope with operationally.
Similarly, it’s common for user interfaces to have been created before the age of the iPhone. That means non-standard look and feel, apps not optimized for mobile (or even a modern browser), and technology that users need to be trained to use to get the simplest work done. In the back end, levels of responsiveness and user feedback will perform as poorly as their garbled user interfaces suggest.
The promise of technology in omnichannel retail, supply chain, warehouse management, order management, and transportation management software is undeniable. However, in many cases, that promise struggles to live up to customer and user expectations of what is considered excellence. Yet some of today’s solutions go little beyond vehicle telemetry or warehouse stock metrics — quite the feats of engineering in the early days of sat nav and bar code scanning but table stakes in today’s game. In 2021, prioritization of price and speed couples with the unspoken demand for high-quality customer experiences; and to be frank, solutions from a previous era are no longer a viable answer.
If we look under the hood of legacy systems to find out why they are lacking, then doing the same for today’s cutting-edge logistics and supply chain tech reveals why its users’ companies excel. The software from Manhattan Associates is built on cloud-native, microservices technology. This genus of development and deployment methodology was conceived to take full advantage of cloud deployment. Microservices (or containers) are discreet subsections of software that can be replicated, multiplied, and torn down in milliseconds, according to the demands placed on the application. That has two significant advantages for those smart enough to pursue its adoption: firstly, cloud hosting costs are based on actual usage, not on the premise of “over-specify and hope.” Secondly, the platform is extensible and scalable according to need.
Manhattan provides the sector with the tools it needs available when they are needed, with no requirement for months of bespoke development work to add “modules” to large ERPs, and without creating another data silo, inaccessible to the rest of the business.
Implementation is quick and seamless, with the cloud platform integrating easily with existing in-house systems and interfacing with third parties safely and easily. That software model creates insights and information drawn from data anywhere in the business or supplied by outside parties (like supply chain partners), so decision-makers get the information they need from a central source.
The Manhattan platform is not called Manhattan Active Transport Management for no reason: its ethos is to enable stakeholders to have instant access to information via responsive dashboards on multiple platforms. It’s from those sources where real-time monitoring of all systems and business processes identifies anomalies and bottlenecks in everyday procedures.
The underlying basis of containerized services that replicate and scale on-demand means answers pulled in fast from the entire network of systems and supply chain data. Similarly, companies can dedicate resources to the analysis of real-time data, with AI algorithms self-improving and fine-tuning the solution for maximum efficiency.
Finally, the user interface and overall responsiveness of the applications give a truly modern feel that users will already be familiar with, so even complex operations become simpler, and collaboration second nature.
In a further article on Tech HQ, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the Manhattan Associates Active Transport Management platform, drawing out some of the detail of how the solution works and the positive impact it makes on all areas of operations in this highly competitive industry. With a combination of cutting-edge technology and logistics experience, the Manhattan difference will be clear.
In the meantime, to learn more about the positive steps your organization can take, follow this link to get in touch with a representative today.
15 September 2021