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Few things are best explained by examples
If you are invested in the domain of everything Supply Chain, you probably already know about RedWood Logistics, a 3PL and MercuryGate, one of the leading TMS solution. RedWood logistics is a tech savy logistics company, that also helps their clients implement best in class Supply Chain logistics tools, like MercuryGate TMS. Through thousands of implementation, implementation engineers at RedWood figured out that one of key challenges during implementation, and also a key bottleneck (read pain in the a**) that prospective clients quoted for avoiding an TMS upgarde was to go through the painful process of integrating a TMS platform with other platforms in the organization.
True solutions are built only when you chase problems- not tools
So to make their task easier, engineers at Redwood developed an interface that would allow the TMS to connect with other widely used platforms. Then they realized that in the process of solving their own problem, they have built something that did not exist before- Self Service systems integration. Few Smart people at the company saw the monetization opportunity, and Redwood floated an off the shelf, drag and drop, self serve, no code platform to connect any leading TMS system to other platforms – RedWood connect. That is, a drag and drop, self serve, no code application to connect all your Supply Chain applications.
They not only built a form of building an elementary single Digital Supply Chain view, but also have disrupted the billion dollar system integration industry.
While the conventional system integration industry could not come across with any such product- when they had the opportunity to disrupt themselves. This is why I consistently say that when you go after solving a problem, rather than using a tool- you find solutions.
Lessons ? The Three S and the gradual death of chasing panacea in Algorithms
Remember the article I wrote about three S of Digital Strategy ? If you did not get a chance to read that article, you can read it here: https://smartsupplychains.ai/2020/08/21/scale-services-and-solutions-the-three-s-of-successful-digital-transformation-planning/
This real world example is a beautiful illustration of my three S theory. Redwood found a real world problem, there was opportunity to scale since this was a challenge wide spread across the Supply Chain systems world, they developed a solution and then they scaled it as a standalone product.
The lesson here is simple and incorporates another aspect that I consistently say- rather than replicating what others are doing, build Digital solutions leveraging your own core competency- by following the Three Ss. Redwood’s core competency was TMS and Logistics, and this meant they had worked on thousands of projects integrating TMS s with other Supply Chain systems.
Now Redwood was a Tech savy company but in this age of cheap technology, you can build Digital products leveraging your core competency in any Industry- CPG, Retail BioPharma etc., use that solution for your own advantage and then monetize it after you have developed a competitive edge.
Disruption ? Machine Learning engineering
Think about what building “pipelines”, or “Architecture” in Machine Learning engineering means most of the time. In 80% of the projects, ML engineers, Data engineers, or whatever fancy names you want to give them, wrestle with connecting a myarid of environments together- be it data lakes, databases or systems etc. AutoML already put “hide behind code” professionals and entities on the path to being obsolete, now AutoSI (made up term), will put legacy IT engineers who “transformed” into ML engineers amidst the AI hype on the path of being obsolete.
Don’t build an army of such people to tackle the Digital revolution. Build a mix of people who can hunt problems, build solutions around them, scale them and then market them. You will be all set to sail on the Digital wave successfully.
Views expressed are my own.
Not an endorsement of RedWood or MercuryGate. I have no affiliation with either of these companies.