Continuing our GO CONNECT Q&A series, part of our online and offline community building series. We interview Ms. Annemieke Gelder, interim COO, and asked her about GO’s inner workings.
1. Tell us about yourself and what you do as GO COO.
I have personally been in the supply chain field for over 17 years with a strong interest in how technology and digitalisation can enable capability development and support operational execution. I started my career with implementing a B2B website to support customer service as part of a multi-channel distribution setup, and went on to implement ERP systems – but I never saw systems or automation as the end game.
I strongly believe that process and people will continue to play a fundamental role in operations as technology will not only replace but can augment operational performance and productivity and will allow us to do ‘more’.
GO is a digital lead logistics provider. The operations for GO are based on the principle that anything that can be automated will be automated. This will allow our resources to focus on customer support, relationship building and value add services such as content, knowledge sharing and overall capability enhancements.
2. Why SMEs in Asia?
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are effectively the building blocks to any supply chain ecosystem. In most markets, especially in Asia, SMEs make up more than 90% or even as close as 99% of the number of companies.
However, SMEs don’t necessarily benefit from the economies of scale or customer support that many MNCs enjoy when sourcing for freight or warehouse capacity. This immediately puts a challenge to costs and resources to SME operations. Many tasks are still being performed manually, which points to tremendous opportunities to adopt technology to automate operations and business processes.
Asia is the manufacturing hub of the world. Many freight shipments originate from here. This makes SMEs fundamental to keep the “factories running” so to speak. We foresee increasing pressure for SMEs to upgrade their business and supply chain in order to maintain their competitiveness. SME customers are demanding higher and higher standards for speed-to-market and supply chain visibility, especially when servicing larger MNCs.
3. How is Asia different than other markets?
There are a number of basic differences such as the geography trade regulation, mode of transport and the maturity and infrastructural development we see in Asia in contrast to more mature markets such as North America and Europe.
However, when scratch beneath the surface – Asia’s diversity also creates unique supply chain challenges for cross-border shipments, which are set to increase with growing regional economic trade agreements and Asia-centric consumer markets.
Growing economic prosperity is driving labour costs up across Asia, particularly China. Past issues which were resolved by putting more people to the problem, are going to have to change. This is where we see adopting technology platforms and automation can broadly scale up capabilities and increase productivity for Asia.
4. Why B2B, why not B2C?
The B2C space is very exciting and visible for people inside and outside the industry and has seen many changes as a result increasing online sales, eCommerce platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon and promotional sales events such as Singles day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
However, the B2B space is just as exciting. In fact, B2B shipments make up the majority of the volume and movements – specifically for manufactured goods. It is crucial to get B2B shipments done right, otherwise B2B shipments destined for final B2C markets can suffer a ‘bull whip’ effect of potential and amplified supply error.
As B2C accelerates, it applies more pressure for ‘upstream’ B2B shipments to become more efficient and visible to match demand to supply. What we’re seeing is that many B2B processes are still done manually or semi-manually. Hence, we see tremendous opportunities for businesses, especially SMEs, to use technology to connect their supply chain dots and re-direct attention to growing the business and increase customer service levels in a similar way we have seen in the B2C space.
I also believe the divide between B2B and B2C will disappear, first as a result of omni-channel supply chains and secondly through the increased connectivity within the supply chains and therefore operating as ONE ‘system’.
5. How do you plan to build up the community?
GO, as a digital lead logistics provider for SMEs, connects shippers, forwarders, 3PLs and owners/ operators of warehouses. In building up our user base, we believe in the power of the network and are building close collaborations with industry associations in the logistics and SME space.
6. GO has an ambitious regional goal – how do you plan to resource & achieve that?
Collaboration is key to our operating model. Not only through the customer community building and the platforms we provide, but also in how we design, build and operate our business operating model.
We are a group of industry practitioners with a strong interest in technology, relationship development and logistics. We are working with partners to develop our own technology and utilize existing and developing technologies to make these available to the SME community in a practical, rapid way.
7. What can we expect from GO going forward?
GO operates in a ‘can do’ mode, which you will see from our hashtag #letsgetgoing on all of our communications. Our GO DC warehousing platform is now live and we are focused on developing our GO FREIGHT platform and enhancing GO DC.
We’re excited to launch GO CONNECT – our online and offline community building program – and have great events in the pipeline. So stay tuned and #letsgetgoing!