In our happycustomers series., we happened to have a word with Mr. Anjani Kumar, the man behind recent success of Safexpress. An avid lover of technology and analytics, Mr. Anjani shared his insights on the upcoming trends in the Logistics & how mobility would be the game-changer. Here is a snapshot of our conversation with him.
More about Anjani:
A Kelly Business School pass-out and one of India's topmost CIO’s, Anjani was awarded as Digital Transformation leader by CeBit and other media houses. Anjani is creating a buzz in the industry as a leader who is transforming the organization using technology. This fitness freak is also renowned Cloud / Mobility and analytics keynote speaker as well as panel discussion member across all leading digital platforms globally. As true digital platforms leader he has been able to spread all the four pillars of SMAC (Social, Mobility, and Analytics & Cloud) & IoT (Internet of things) creating a new trend in logistics industry. For his industry acumen and deep business insights he has received 13 awards including CIO100, IDC Insight, Business Impact, Innovative CIO, DQ Analytics and IoT business tech awards.
Tell us something about Safexpress and how you happened to be here..
Interesting, Safexpress is founded by Mr. Pavan Jain who is also the founder of Overnight express. In the 1990’s, he observed that the business for B2B cargos is going up and he foresaw a great potential in the untapped B2B segment. He then envisioned of organising the sector and thus, the journey of Safexpress began. Since then, Safexpress have been growing heaps and bounds and we never looked back.
And coming to how I happened to be here., I was associated with services industry for a long time and also had a global exposure across various platforms. I was looking for something challenging in my work life and this came around 2014.
I saw a huge potential for technical and digital transformation in the entire logistics industry, and Logistics in India has a very low technology penetration compared to Telecom, banking etc. Traditionally the technology penetration in Indian logistics was low. After that I joined Safexpress and at present we are on the hyper growth in digital transformation. If you look at mobility, cloud, analytics we have been banking on technology in big ways. We started our mobility solution with one app and today we have six applications including customer centric apps both in ioS and android store.
|| Mobility, cloud & analytics: we have been banking on technology in big ways.
Could you share your journey with technology in Safexpress..
We moved on to the cloud in 2014 and now we have multiple cloud providers. Initially we were not doing great in terms of analytics- our data driven decisions were not very high. We have significantly improved on data-driven analytics and moving forward we see business users acceptance on the data driven decisions are increasing heaps and bounds. Till yesterday, a business leader who couldn’t either understand or who couldn’t even get the deeper insights of what’s going on in the business can get take data driven decisions for better understanding of operations.
The demand for these questions has increased a lot
How should I get the data?
And who took decisions by his instincts is saying can you tell me how is my vehicle getting utilised during these hours?
How is my workforce getting utilised?
How do I get insights from the data?
This is a positive trend in the industry. Then of course for IoT, we won accolades from the industry that we are one of the case studies in India in industry for using IoT and GPS. We connected the GPS with mobility apps in our ERP.
With this a warehouse manager can see at the warehouse floor when the trucks are expected e.g., five minutes, seven minutes, one hour, two hour etc.
In some of the hubs we have seen airport style arrival screenings where he could say that these are the arrivals happening, departures happenings and he could see anything out there. That was easy to implement and when we do this, user's expectations goes up.
With the rise of mobility and kind of exposure the customer is getting nowadays, customer's expectations are up.
Basically we are working on real-time pick up, to enable frontend and backend team. Enabling front end is comparatively easy but enabling the backend truck drivers and our associates to do the pickup and have the pleasant experience of the customers. We are working on giving a pleasant experience to the customers which is a challenge in this industry. We are working on that and hopefully we come up with the solutions.
How do you see the logistics industry two-three years down the lane?
Pretty interesting! Logistics itself is an ocean and it is a great time to be in logistics industry. Thanks to ecommerce!! Ecommerce business models might be changing a bit because of end-point delivery, LMD is still a big challenge. We are currently doing long haul, we have already doing a lot of aggregation on that. LMD is still getting refined; we feel that there would be some changes in the end mile delivery.
It could be combination of hyper-local; it could be aggregation at provider level. But what is coming is, context based solution.
Context based-solution is the next big thing:
One of my pickup boys in the area or one of the providers receives the pick-up request right out there.
If we know that this guy is ready right away we can push it right away which is not happening now. Lot of logistics companies are working on this and we are also working on that. So., the context-based solution is the next thing
One of the POC which we are working is the low-energy devices for tracking that is also getting traction. You can set GPS in the vehicle but tracking some of the shipments is difficult. Devices needs to get charged and logistically it becomes complex. If there could be an option that doesn’t require recharge I think that would be the future.
(i) Hyperlocal + Last Mile aggregation
(ii) Context-based solution
(iii) Low energy devices for tracking
In terms of field workforce management, visibility is one of the challenges service organisations.
I agree that visibility is a major challenge. We initially started with ecommerce as it was relatively easy and as the workforce was of smaller size.
Workforce in e-commerce is smaller and is tech savvy. All the deliveries happen through tablets. We have the visibility on how are they travelling, to which areas are they delivering etc. Most of the e commerce companies are moving on to marketplace pickup from their own warehouse.
When you do market place pick up, I didn't know whether a particular parcel/item is picked up or not until the delivery guy comes in the evening. This was a major problem in capacity forecasting and informing clients that this has been picked up, informing Flipkart, Snapdeal.
We started doing this on hand-held. When they pick-up, on real-time basis I come to know that this has been done.
Third., which is a very big one is the sales force enablement. We are already developing a technology and we will do the pilot-testing this month, it helps us track where our sales force are:
(i) tagging our location
(ii) tagging client location
When field guys will check-in and checkout then all this data is processed and our analytics team will do analytics in-house.
Usually field jobs are considered to be a bit boring, what is your take on gamification of field jobs
I don’t know if I will be able to agree with the notion that field jobs are boring. Usually in Safexpress, every pick-up is different, challenges are different. When we add technology, they see the jobs coming in from different location, doing multiple pickups etc. The tool does it for them.
Entering the data and its consolidation is a boring part alongside with giving notifications to the customer.
Now., they just reaches the warehouse, it gets scanned and thus all the data is scanned and uploaded. The field guys have become much more efficient in jobs and wherever we implemented in market place we could see good change in the productivity.
With the technology, field jobs have become more of a game rather than just pickup and deliver.
8 out of 10 customers are willing to pay more, if they have to get a better service; what is your say on it?
A: At the end, customers pay based on the value they get. “Value” here is the value perceived by the customer. If you improve customer satisfaction, customer value and give visibility to him he would be willing to pay more.
With delivery manager application, the customer can set the date and time he wants to know. If we do that of course customer would be overwhelmed and willing to pay premium for that in any industry that happens and why not in logistics industry.
What do you think is the game-changer for Logistics and other companies?
When I compare where we want to reach in terms of technology I compare with banking, telecom because in my terms those are the places where technology has played a great role and I think using mobility and IoT you could achieve a lot and of course supported by close integration with analytics.
The three pillars of that would change the game for Logistics are:
These three could overall change the game of logistics, be it be customer satisfaction, transit time, lost shipments, pilferage, efficiency increase. These are the three pillars in technology that will change the game for logistics.
What is the role of mobile in streamlining tasks?
When we were launching we had something like action on the move., which is specifically designed for the warehouse managers. And they could see which vehicles are coming at what time, which shipment is lying for 24-hr, 48-hr etc. With this he could see the information, ticket assigned, contact other hub managers, report an issue, scan and take a picture and upload real-time.
Initially we were skeptical about how the hub manager would receive it. Once a hub manager reported to us “when I can do everything on ERP? Why can’t I do the same on a mobile application?” And this tells you exactly the user expectation. New breed employees have the expectation that “I can do everything on mobile” and with the help of robust and trusted vendors are making it possible for them.
New breed employees have the expectation that “I can do everything on mobile”
We have enabled analytics and we are working on that. Three years down the lane, to see a satisfied user, we need to have analytics in place. BYOD is not just for mobile devices, apple or android watches; probably user's expectations would be why can’t I see with the wearable devices? And through that it would be like adding another dimension to our lives. And as a CIO I have to adapt myself to it. (he smiles)
How will mobile boost enterprise bottom-line?
A lot of industries are relying on the efficiency of employee on the move. For example., three years back., there could be many things which couldn’t be done because you are not in front of the system. We get approvals through emails and email was put onto the mobile. It might make a system little better. Email is the new productivity blocker of many people. Missing emails or overdose of emails are the most common across the industries. So there is need for task and sustaining application which could be worked in real-time through a hub manager. If a hub manager wants to place a marketplace vehicle at 9 in the night, right now what needs to do is he needs to make three calls to ensure that the action is taken.
If I have an app right on operations head mobile, he gets an instant notification then there is a 90% chance that it gets approved. The number of jobs will increase and so the revenue increases.
Do you prefer outsourcing your backend technology or build it in-house?
I say it should be a mix of outsourcing it with a robust vendor which offers the service without any glitches, and in-house applications.
How was your experience with FarEye or what are you expecting from them ?
FarEye is innovative; and they are changing the industry landscape. And FarEye is disruptive and not a “run of the mill” solution unlike the solutions in the market.