It is always interesting, what happens during a busy workday. Yesterday, when I left the office, I realized, that my cell phone was missing. That might be even a good thing sometimes, but meanwhile, my cellphone is not just handling my phone calls, but it also pays for my coffee, reminds me of upcoming meetings, helps me to manage my bank account and so and... So you could say I am dependent, I would say, it is really helpful. Now, I went back to my office and a short search for the device was not successful. Having not set up any “find my cell” services, I decided to call myself – and – I picked up and answered. I did not understand the name, but the guy gave me his address. Asking him, why he is using my phone, and he seemed to be confused as well..”I don’t know why I have your phone, I found it in my car..” Sure! I went there and surprise, it was one of the lawyers in our office and surely enough, every black mobile with a glass front looks the same. So a simple transaction and I got lucky – I found my cell.
From a logistics perspective, it certainly was interesting, since it “responded” and I was easily getting my hands around the issue. Tracking has several aspects these days from my perspective. One, it is certainly the tracking of a physical entity. That would include specific events you’d expect to happen, so you may monitor expected actions to happen or others, you don’t expect to be included in a standardized process. Secondly, it is also about tracking and monitoring the information around an object or process item like a sales order in execution e.g. temperature, on-time performance, but also thirdly geographical information related to that. Also introduced with the 9.0 releases of SAP TM and SAP EM it is now possible to track also the progress of instructions of Standard Operating Procedures you might have standardized in your company around a shipping process. And last, but not least, tracking of phrases, tags, or the information itself, so information tracking and monitoring, like buzzwords or hashtags with twitter e.g. If you want to have a sharp description of that, you might want to follow up on Gartner’s Homepage Glossary, which also highlights, related information around the topic.
Better visibility related to the progress of instructions, defined in Standard Operating Procedures with SAP EM 9.0
Besides the basic idea of tracking events or tracing items, there is a very key aspect behind it: Tracking and Monitoring provide us with very specific information on our key assets and business processes. There is a real opportunity to utilize that information more actively, not only for planned vs. actual data, but in executing e.g. the delivery of goods, and providing equipment, we can identify patterns, and combinations of individual events, which will help us to clearly identify costly and valuable activities or “situations” in our supply chains, that could open up opportunities for chargeable services. A very simple example of this is related to one of the more expensive things in transportation, like demurrage or detention. E.g. a recognized arrival of a container at the delivery location, plus a confirmed completion of unloading the cargo, in combination with a missing reported departure at the location, is a pattern, which clearly triggers a payment from your carrier if you exceed your contractually included on-site time. Without having that information captured, it is very costly to react to the failure in invoice verification as your carrier will provide you with his invoice and request the details, then also a tracking report, etc. Especially in rail, but also the ocean, for example, there is a real opportunity to improve the efficiency and automation in accessorials being processed, and as most service providers in that space will be able to provide either via EDI or now e.g with the new SAP Transport Notification and Status Mobile App, which provides in real-time your logistical details to your drivers or carriers and at the same time establishes a real-time reporting gateway back to business processes, supported in SAP TM.
With the new releases of SAP TM 9.0 and SAP EM 9.0, there is a strong foundation available to not only track items, and plan shipments but establish together with the mobile applications, considering SAP Information Interchange as a strong catalyst for better communication with your business partners in logistics, an enterprise solution e.g. for Accessorial Management. That solution will simply leverage event information being collected during execution to actually allow you to automatically add charge lines in your carrier freight settlement process, not as planned charge items, but as recognized and cost-relevant information triggering charges. We see this currently in two projects we are implementing SAP TM and EM, on the Shipper side and on the Logistics Service Provider side as well. We will certainly recognize these charges as well with analytical solutions like SAP BI, and Business Objects, but even real-time reporting, based on transactional data within SAP TM in the business context viewer will allow providing ad-hoc reporting on more aggregated information to the business users.
Now, I need to find my way back to my cell phone… As I said, thinking holistically, SAP Event Management 9.0 supporting now tracking of item details in SAP TM (for Bookings, Freight Orders, and Freight Units) out of the box, it provides enough details, for better-aggregated insights, e.g. on-time performance, container or railcar on-site tracking, status reports for order items, that allows establishing a broader supply chain execution strategy including certainly transportation planning, execution, tendering, costing, but now also e.g. more detailed insights on supporting services and status feedback in real-time.
We see in projects that SAP Event Management becomes a default requirement for implementations, just like Charge Management, Tendering, etc. Mobile, for years being standard in the industry, will change to become a commodity aspect for implementations and it will increase the real-time interactivity and quality in execution, just because it will be seamlessly supported.
I am glad I have my phone back. And I certainly could have used the device-locator service as well to tell me the actual location of my phone. Similar to that, now SAP EM is also providing the capability to report geo coordinates with every event, which can be leveraged to be displayed on Maps (using Visual Business, similar to what TM does) and that brings another quality of integrated processing to the table.
If you are interested in learning more about SAP EM, SAP TM, and mobile, please send me an email. Maybe we can showcase in a prototype what would be possible for your company.
So – what are you actually doing with your phone?
References: SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM 9.0, TM 9.1, TM 9.2), SAP Event Management (EM 9.0, EM 9.2)