The customer experience and robust supply chain visibility are crucial, Paige Cox, senior vice president and head of Digital Supply Chain Networks development at SAP, and Jett McCandless, CEO of project44, said Tuesday at FreightWaves LIVE Chicago during a discussion about their companies’ partnership.
“Everything now is surrounded by the customer experience,” Cox said. “It’s the mentality: When I want it, I want to click it once and get it delivered to me.”
But supply chain visibility gained through software platforms isn’t enough, Cox said. “Visibility must provide action. Shippers need inbound and outbound visibility. The service level depends on the logistics provider; in this ecosystem, everyone plays an important role, even the back office, when they ask, ‘What’s in the order of the truck that’s delayed?’ These are hardcore supply chain challenges that we have to solve together.”
In McCandless’ two decades of experience in the transportation and logistics industry, he has become an innovative leader who has guided several startups from ideation to expansion. In 2014, he founded project44, and since then, his team has created a visibility platform to increase transparency for shippers and logistics service providers. To this end, project44 has partnered with major transportation management systems like SAP, Oracle and JDA.
Across design, manufacturing, asset intelligence and logistics, Cox has a proven record in executive leadership. In her 19 years at SAP, she’s worked in the U.S. and Germany, as well as managed strategic direction for global development in China, India and Hungary.
“When we talk about the product experience, it’s not about the product anymore,” Cox said. “It’s about the delivery experience. With trade regulations changing — tariffs, Brexit — it’s requiring people to rethink. Customers need that backbone of innovation.”
Ideally, when companies like project44 and SAP partner, the supply chain benefits and software platforms are integrated end to end. Cox said that using project44’s data, SAP launched an open and multimodal platform, bringing all trading partners together in one place for visibility. McCandless said Project 44 was attracted to SAP because of its promise to deliver.
“In the end, we must give the supply chain intelligence control back to the customer,” Cox said.
Historically, the industry has been fragmented, with many third-party logistics providers focusing only on certain loads and geographic regions. One-to-one technology platforms created disparate systems, which are expensive to set up and troubleshoot. Project44’s one-to-many network was started for its synchronous data and can be repurposed for all segments of the industry.
In an often tech-resistant industry, avoiding vaporware and maintaining a strong return on investment is important.
“One company’s outbound is another company’s inbound,” McCandless said. “Putting all the pieces together is quite challenging. If you have software that can’t be trusted, people will work around the software and it creates a lot of bad behavior, making it difficult to redirect users back to using software.”