BT Global (NYSE: BT) on Tuesday began offering a cloud-based version of its Trace supply chain solution, a move the telco says will provide its customers with a single view into complex supply chains in near-real time.
BT said that its cloud-based Trace solution can collect, store, share and interpret high volume event data about goods and assets moving along an extended global supply chain. From there, the service will integrate all of the information from various resource planning and IT systems used by global companies and their suppliers to provide a single view of the whole supply chain through a customised web portal.
Tom Wolf, Vice President of Business Development, CPG and US&C, BT Global Services, told FierceTelecom that managing global supply chains have become an even more pressing challenge in emerging markets such as Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.
"Our new capabilities are being driven by our clients who are telling us, particularly in the CPG and global commerce space, the challenges of getting global visibility through their supply chain is getting more painfully particularly as they focus on emerging markets, specifically Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa," he said. "The supply chain issues get exacerbated by a lack of sophisticated technology; a lot more layers of distribution that make it easier for goods to disappear; and the need to take the technology down to the $5 phone to help people with supply chain visibility issues."
Customers like TNT Special Services, a large express delivery company that's conducted a trial of the new cloud service, can now see where they need to make changes and improve operational efficiency.
Steve Brown, Divisional General Manager of TNT Special Services, said "that a single view across all systems and data speeds up processes and identifies significant events, allowing us to respond in new and better ways to our customers, and they, in turn, deliver a better service to their customers".
Companies like TNT face a number of challenges in managing supply chains such as counterfeiting and shrinkage to product recalls and perishable goods. These problems are standard fare in the consumer packaged goods, logistics, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and the retail vertical industry segments that are trying to focus on emerging markets.
These companies have to manage multiple formats, sources and partners that collect data. Compounding the problem is the fact that the resource planning and backend systems are often not connected.
Wolf said one of the goals with the new service is to increase the profile of its logistics services.
"We have both system integration and a professional services arm that has a global reach," said Wolf. "One of the things our communications skills have extended into is helping global clients with their supply chain issues so we have a series of capabilities we have in supply chain that we're trying to get a little more visible on a global basis."
BT currently does a number of RFID not only in the CPG segment, but also in global commerce vertical accounts. Interestingly, 97 percent of the goods that go through the UK airports are carried over BT's systems, for example.
The other piece of the Trace product set is Warehouse Trace, a cloud-based capability for warehouse management. Delivered through a partnership with HighJump Software, a supply chain management software provider, BT is offering Warehouse Trace on a pay-as-you-go model.
By handing off their logistics to BT, customers won't have to build out their own data centers to support their supply chain systems.
"Both of these announcements in the BT Trace family are going to be cloud-based and opex-based to allow people to get up quickly in these emerging markets," Wolf said.
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