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Moving beyond Digitalization to A Single Version of Digital Truth

Jagmeet Singh, CEO, Axestrack
May 10, 2021

Shanmukh Singh, Consultant ISCM, speaks to Jagmeet Singh, CEO, Axestrack on “Single Version of Digital Truth” 

Axestrack is India’s first unified logistics platform. What is a unified logistics platform? How is it helping build an ecosystem for the logistics and transportation industry?

Unification means the process of bringing together. A unified platform exactly serves this purpose. The platform connects all players of the ecosystem viz. Consignors, Customers, OEMs, 3PL, Network providers, and Government bodies to provide a unified view. This unified view enables us to gather, analyze and synthesize the different data sets using AI and create what we call – A “Single Version of Digital Truth”.

This capability to understand business data, slice ‘n’ dice on-demand, and create the view which makes sense for the consumer is how you deliver value and help the ecosystem. With our investment in digital and advancement of technology, we are able to do it in the right way and have been blessed to create success stories with some marquee leaders of the industry.

What data is being collected by the platform? How does it help your clients make intelligent decisions?

An intelligent and wise decision is an outcome of an informed data set that comes from different stakeholders in one unified view.

We collect business data about dispatches and logistics operations. This data is fed into our AI engine and transforms into a “Single Version of Digital Truth”.  We understand that every customer’s needs are different and so are their versions of digital truth.  Our platform handles these agile needs smartly via AI. AI engine gathers the data, curates it, and then automatically publishes different stakeholder views.

For example, what operations want to see would be different from the sales view and so would be different from the logistics business view and so on. This not only solves multi-stakeholder needs but also provides the freedom to accommodate the needs in real-time and on-demand.

Are companies using Axestrack’s platform faring better than their competitors? What was the reason for this?

We are ahead of the competition in the logistics technology space. Digital is our forte. Our customer retention rate is >98% and we are regarded as partners not vendors to our customers.

Based on my conversations with customers they have primarily appreciated us for three reasons: –

The number one being our acute focus on solving business problems and establish clear value benefits. Our approach is very consultative. We do not use terms like RoI (Return on Investment) rather “Business Value Realization (BVR)”. BVR helps to clearly distinguish between tangible values like Cost, Revenue and Intangible values like Service and Quality.

An intelligent and wise decision is an outcome of an informed data set that comes from different stakeholders in one unified view

Second, we have embraced a culture of “Design Thinking”. Our Customer Success team members are trained on Design Thinking methodology. The benefit we have seen is that now our interactions with customers have changed. We are now being looked at as transformation partners than just tech vendors.

Third, we continuously invest in modern technology as part of our DNA. For instance, today with help of AI, for our Cement client, we have been able to identify the exact unloading locations and stamp the distance which we call “True Distance”. This has helped them to address their Freight Debit Issues/Backloading Costs and improve relations with their transporters. Not only this, with AI, we provided them demand and supply clusters, customer patterns, and comparative lead distances (distance by Google vs GPS vs AI). The client was able to see the revenue differentiation, cost savings, and benefits.

Having said that, we also embrace the fact that some problems may not need technical intervention at all. We have been very candid in making those recommendations before getting into operations of logistics. This has helped in getting the confidence of all the stakeholders.

Do you think the Indian logistics industry is embracing digitalization? Has the rate of adoption accelerated since the start of the pandemic?

Well, digitalization is not new to Indian logistics. It exists in bits and pieces and varies by sector. The challenge is that it has not impacted holistically the three key stakeholders of the logistics business – Man, Material, and Machine (3M). The unified view or single source of digital truth has been missing and which now has been accelerated due to pandemic. Our mission has been to redefine and evolve the connections between 3M, digitally.

For instance, oxygen transportation has now been mandated, by the Ministry of Road Transportation and Highways (MoRTH), to have telematics devices installed. This is to ensure trucks reach the hospitals on time and are not hijacked or robbed on the way. Further, the intent is to ensure that movement is steady, and any uncalled halt/stoppage/route deviation is alerted immediately to the respective authorities. Additionally, with new locations both from demand (hospitals) and supply-side (oxygen producers) being added daily, the delivery and management of the information are supported digitally i.e., via apps/notifications/SMS and so on.

Add to this, the capability of command centre/control operations to monitor and manage journey risks while en-route for an area or state or pan-India, the equation of digitalization goes to a whole another level. The technology is available, and the pandemic has shortened the adoption rate.

What are the major trends in logistics technology?

It is a very broad question to answer. Trends are driven by market forces, consumer demands, regulations, at times by life-changing events like COVID, regional and global drivers, and vary from sector to sector.

In the Indian context, the technology penetration, in logistics, is on the rise however it is still concentrated towards road transportation. Most aspects of digital penetration are solving road transport challenges. The aspect of multi-modal, involving waterways, railways, and airways is being explored at a slower pace. In our opinion, the trend is shifting to

  1. Adoption of AI  – there are still lots of unsolved business cases however the work is on.
  2. Command Center/Control Tower Capabilities  – this is one area where there is a huge scope of digitalization and embracement of technology
  3. ADAS – in the Indian context, it is still relatively slow in adoption however companies are now taking notice of it given the fact that upside benefits outweigh downside costs.
  4. Multi-Modal Integration – this is still far and needs lots of government support in forming regulations and waivers. If planned well, the potential is huge in terms of cost savings and operational efficiency gains.
  5. Blockchain – this is becoming an interesting piece of discussion nowadays and we are seeing lots of exploratory level initiatives being taken.

What is the impact of end-to-end visibility on businesses? Do you have any plans of introducing sustainability insights and solutions to your portfolio?

Let us take an example of oxygen movement in these times. From the point of loading to the point of delivery if we can track the movement in real-time and address any issues en-route for the driver to ensure that oxygen reaches the right place and at right time, we could save lives. Now multiply one movement to thousands of trucks on different routes carrying oxygen to different places with only one goal – to deliver on time, the lives saved have increased exponentially.

We do not use terms like RoI (Return on Investment) rather “Business Value Realization (BVR)”. BVR helps to clearly distinguish between tangible values like Cost, Revenue and Intangible values like Service and Quality.

End-to-End visibility means capturing a small event like switching on AC to life-threatening events like over-speeding in real-time and on-demand. However, visibility alone would not have an impact because decision-making from the information is key. Most of the time, information tells us – what has happened? This type of visibility does not enable decision-making because unless we know why the purpose of having information is meaningless.

To measure the impact, the diagnostic part of analytics has to be obvious. This can only be enabled by AI/Analytics engines built on modern platforms to do big data computations at scale. We make that level of impact happen. The super cool part is – we make it happen at an Enterprise level as well as at a stakeholder persona level. It solves two things: one is decision making and the other is insights required to arrive at a decision.

On the sustainability part, we are in the process of integrating our dispatch management data with the LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) system to understand and measure the carbon footprints and take corrective actions in reducing them.

What is the future of logistics technology?

I think at this moment we should limit our views to the near future, say in the next 3 years window.  In the next three years based on the market pulse, we can see that consumers will demand:-

  1. Single Source of Digital Truth – instead of getting data from multiple sources and massaging it to derive results, customers would seek one platform to serve them the digital truth. 
  2. AI-Powered Control Tower/Command Center – evolution from having a dedicated managed services model, consumers would want an AI-powered control tower where triggers-based events are auto-resolved, auto-escalated, and auto-closed leaving minimal room for manual intervention and actions.
  3. Telematics As The Central IoT Device – Establishment/Adoption of telematics as the central IoT device for gathering and management of the dispatch data.

How do you see Axestrack scaling up its business in the future?

Axestrack business has three core pillars – Agility, Flexibility, and Scalability.

Agility provides us the strength to be ahead of the competition and continuously innovate to be relevant to customer needs and dynamics.

Flexibility makes us believe to embrace change with time and evolve for the betterment of the company and customers.

Most of the time, information tells us – what has happened? This type of visibility does not enable decision-making because unless we know why the purpose of having information is meaningless.

Scalability imbibes the principles of growth into new areas and markets.  

We are on a mission to change the nature of Indian logistics and hence are continuously innovating to help evolve the ecosystem capabilities. When the ecosystem grows, everyone who is part of it grows with it.

Our way of scaling is simple – we focus on leveraging best practices of one segment to another and build a unification of capabilities.  This unification helps our customers to achieve desired Business Value Realization (BVR) in a shorter time and remain progressive with changing market needs.

Hence, our approach is about a holistic and sustainable business model.

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