Leadership through Building Integrated Solutions

One of the strategies adopted by the leadership organizations in their bid to build their market share and retain their leadership is by becoming customer centric; customer focused company as a whole. When we talk of being customer centric, we are not talking only about the sales or product development personnel. More importantly, the management and all the cross functional teams are customer centric. These organizations believe in getting into understanding in depth about the Customer’s business and building solutions around the customer’s needs and pain points. Over a period of time, these organizations have realized the need to embrace a new philosophy of becoming complete solution provider to the customer instead of designing and implementing solutions and selling products and solutions. Today organizations partner with their customers with long term perspective, design solutions and manage those solutions too. The best examples can be had from the logistics industry where the traditional hardcore transport service providers and courier companies have integrated other products and services in their fold to offer integrated solutions to their clients not only in one location, but across the globe.

Let us try and identify some of the strategies adopted by these leader organizations that make them so successful and profitable in the long run. First and foremost, these organizations have realized the need to become solution providers which may necessitate acquiring complimentary new products and expertise and do not hesitate in making such investments. DHL as an international logistics service provider has perhaps the best network of warehouses and transportation operations across the whole of China today. The company has entered into several local partnerships, picked up local expertise, built core capabilities on the ground and married the local solution to the internal freight thus being able to provide door to door solutions to its clients. DHL has had to make significant investments in the country to establish such footprint and built its capabilities. Going forward, the company has invested into building customized solutions for garment, Retail and other industries. Each solution for a particular industry calls for significant investments into building suitable technology applications, designing processes, training and implementing processes across the board. Moreover, facilitating seamless co-ordination across teams operating in several continents while presenting a single face and single window to the client calls for continuous focus in training as well as building and orienting cross functional, cross cultural teams. When Wal-Mart, Nike or GAP chooses to source from China, they just call DHL and ask to meet with their account managers and they get the customized solution in place in a matter of few days.

The logistics service providers make dedicated investments to set up dedicated warehouses, dedicated fleet of trucks as well as other infrastructure including in plant facilities on long term basis for their clients and thus engage with the customers with long term perspective. They do not look at recovering profits on transactional basis, but base their peg points on the total customer spend.

Technology happens to be the backbone of all of these customized and integrated solutions that have been adopted by the logistics providers. With the help of communications technology, customized applications and global connectivity, these Organizations are able to transmit the data and documents electronically via EDI to all the connected offices thus making sure that the information is available to all concerned in the chain well in advance. They have systems that can be interfaced with the Customer’s systems and provide regular updates, uploads and downloads with client’s offices across countries without manual interface. It is the systems and applications that are driving all of the operations in integrated logistics solutions today. The clients are able to know the shipment schedules, the exact position of the current shipment, view its movements, get updates, reports and meaningful data at their finger tips.

Thirdly, these Logistics Organizations have found the right recipe for bringing in the right kind of resources and building dedicated Account Management structure that caters to and focuses on a particular client and provides the client with single window service across products and services as well as across continents. At an operating level, the resources are brought in with particular industry experience and expertise. At each product level, regional level, country level as well as at the senior management level, account managers and account directors manage the global customers. The Organizations spend a lot of effort in engaging with the customer to understand his future plans and identify needs that are likely to arise as well as refining and modifying existing operational models to augment their efficiencies.

In most cases, the global clients and their logistics service providers have become partners in the business. Thus endearing oneself to the customer and building business solutions around his business has proven to be a highly successful formula for leadership.


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