In the latest episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast I had the pleasure of conversing with Fraser Robinson, the co-founder and CEO of Beacon. We delved deep into the revolutionary world of supply chain visibility and collaboration.
🔍 Visibility Beyond Track-and-Trace: Fraser elaborates on how Beacon is redefining supply chain visibility. It's not just about knowing where your shipment is; it's about understanding the entire journey of your goods, from order to delivery, and leveraging this data for strategic decision-making.
🔗 Collaboration is Key: We also explored the crucial role of collaboration in supply chains. Beacon's approach isn't just about providing real-time updates; it's about empowering teams with a 'single source of truth,' enabling efficient decision-making and streamlining communication across different stakeholders.
📊 Data-Driven Supply Chains: Fraser's insights into how data is the backbone of supply chain optimization were particularly striking. He emphasized the journey towards automation and how supply chain data can lead to actionable insights, driving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
💡 Sustainability in Focus: We touched on the importance of sustainability, particularly how supply chain visibility aids in managing Scope 3 emissions - a critical aspect for businesses today.
🚀 Looking Ahead: Fraser shared his vision for the future of supply chains - a blend of data, technology, and human insight driving towards a more automated, efficient, and sustainable ecosystem.
🔗 Learn More: For more insights and resources from Beacon, visit their website at Beacon.com, and check out the video version of this episode at https://youtu.be/H4xzySAkHb8
Stay tuned for more episodes where we unravel the complexities of the digital supply chain world. Until next time, keep innovating and optimising!
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By bringing your visibility solution, taking ownership of that, as a shipper and having, not only are you solving that sort of multi-portal problem, what you are really doing, which is so much more structural and more strategic, is you are really starting to take ownership of all of your supply chain data, irrespective of which carrier or supplier or haulier you are using. And then it belongs to youTom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain Podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone and welcome to episode 377 of the Digital Supply Chain Podcast. This is the last episode before the new year. So final episode of 2023. My name is Tom Raftery. Before we kick off, I have a couple of bits of news, a couple of quick bits of news for you. First, as I said, this is the final episode of 2023. The next episode of the podcast will go live on the 8th of January, 2024. I'm taking a two week break. It's been a long year. I haven't had much opportunity for a bit of an R&R, so I'm taking advantage of that now. So this is the final episode of 2023. Next episode will go live. As I said, January 8th, 2024. So, enjoy your holidays. Remember, there are 376 previous episodes of this podcast. If you start getting the shakes, if you can't do without your twice weekly fix of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, there are 376 previous episodes you can go back and check out. I said there was a couple of bits of news. The second bit of news is, I'm going to change this podcast next year. There's going to be a significant shift in the focus of the podcast. It'll start around the end of January. So a bit of a heads up, a bit of a bit of a change coming. It's all for the good. So, something I'm looking forward to and I think you'll enjoy it as well. Lastly, I just wanted to say that the episode that goes live on the 8th of January is an interview with the CEO of a company called Circulor, Ellen Carey. Really good episode, one to watch out for, you're not going to want to miss it. So, with that, back to today's show, which is also a cracker. It's with Fraser Robinson, the CEO of Beacon. Fraser, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?Fraser Robinson:
Thank you very much foR having me, Tom. My name is Fraser Robinson. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Beacon, a supply chain collaboration and visibility platform.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Talk to me a little bit more about what that means, because it, that's a very high level explanation Fraser of what Beacon is, but maybe dig into it just a little bit more for us.Fraser Robinson:
Yes, for sure. So, the, I'll start with the, the term visibility, which is, you know, sort of 50% of what I've just said to you, that Beacon being a, a visibility and a collaboration platform. I think it's really important to start with the visibility piece because, I think that the world of supply chain is very familiar with, you know, track and trace, where's my stuff, where are my containers, where's my airway bill? Which has sort of come under the, the label, if you will, of track and trace or tracking portals. You know, there's this sort of concept that's, excuse me, emerged sort of, in the last few years and it's incredibly important to know, you know, where your stuff is. But we prefer to use the term visibility because, you know knowing in real time where your containers are or your truck and when it's going to arrive is sort of the, almost the more tactical piece of the solution. Really what we're trying to do is build a visibility solution which extends far beyond, when's my stuff arriving? And where? And that moves in two vectors. One is upstream into order visibility you know. When did I order stuff? How long does it take for those SKUs to be manufactured? What's the cargo ready date? How many times did that change? When is it picked up? So, so visibility really expresses, if you will, a lot more of the journey of your goods than just the transportation segment. And also visibility extends into not just where's my stuff, but also how do you communicate to your team, where your stuff is and what the progress is, and how do you ensure that all the actors in your supply chain, whether they be in your business or in a supplier's business, or in a customer's business, in a different time zone, how do you ensure that everyone who needs to know what's going on has access to that information in real time. And then finally, visibility also encompasses visibility, not just around your stuff as it's happening now but also visibility into the historical data. That's incredibly important from a strategic standpoint, which is less about what's happening now. And more about how do we make it better next time? And so the visibility into that historical data is key as well. So there's visibility and I've, it bleeds into collaboration, which I sort touched on as well, which is empowering teams to have access to all of that information in one single source of truth. So visibility and collaboration. Are the two cornerstone themes of what we're building. And I, I guess the, the real point there is it's, it's track and trace on steroids, if you will. It's taking it to a, a very different place from your kind of more traditional as it is now realtime tracking portal.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Yeah, sure, sure, sure. And I, I'm guessing that, you know, letting everybody know the current status of everything is going a little beyond just sending out faxes, but before, before we get into that, gimme a little bit about the backstory of, of Beacon and, and yourself, because I think it, it plays a lot into this story, right?Fraser Robinson:
Yes, definitely. So you, you know, my prior to to Beacon, I I was with Uber. And you know, my, my sort of experience there, I'd been in, in, in tech as a, as a, as a business for, as a, as a sector for, for most of my career, quite frankly. And moving to Uber was really the first time that I'd been involved in a tech business that was so intrinsically linked to the movement of physical things in the world. I'd, I'd been in, involved in more sort of data, data-driven and, and online travel quite frankly. So a few degrees removed from responsibility for the actual movement of, of the object, if you will. I don't mean to refer to people as objects in the context of Uber, but you get the point. That optimizes the movement of vehicles and people, which you could argue is, is really not too dissimilar to a last mile delivery business. And so that, that would sort of open the door for me to, to sort of start to get a sense for you know, logistics in a way. Uber launched a, a business called Uber Freight while I was there, I, I did not personally have a hand in it, but it, it I was certainly aware of it and, and was able to, to understand its, its, its its, its themes more, more deeply. And that opened the door for me, opened my mind to, okay, this is really interesting now, what more is there than logistics? You know, let's move into supply chain more broadly. And you know, that natural curiosity takes over and you start to spend more and more time analyzing, thinking, reading, talking. The, the classic journey that any, any sort of startup entrepreneur goes on usually begins with that sort of curiosity kicking in and understanding, asking that question over and over, why, why does it work that way? Why it seems inefficient that way. What, why are they losing so much money on this? Why are businesses, you know, on the verge of of running outta cash once a once a once a month as they sort of balance supply payments with revenue, you know, all that, all that stuff. It's a fascinating problem. So that was really, I think, where the, the, the sort of the, the kernel. The sort of was, was first for me, sort of arose of interest and, and then you should go on that journey, as I say. And, and, and Beacon really began having spent some time talking to lots of businesses who, particularly retailers, you know, went and talked to lots of them to understand, just tell me about your supply chain woes. How does it work? You know, and what I, what I, what I experienced was that many businesses I spoke to, particularly small and medium sized ones, nobody goes into business in retail in particular thinking they need to be good at supply chain. They, they typically go into business because they have a, an idea for a wonderful product that they think their customer might need or want to buy. And that, that's, that's usually the motivation. And then, and then if that business proves successful, they, they very quickly realize that actually they've got to be really good at this thing called supply chain if they're going to be good at selling this wonderful product. And, and I just think that that comes as a bit of a shock to businesses, cos it's not really what they want to do. And so, It becomes a bit of an afterthought but of course it's can't be an afterthought because it's absolutely foundational to how you price your product. And, and can you, can you get your customer the thing they want tomorrow or next week? Do you have it in stock? You know, with, with with, with e-commerce and the rise of online shopping, you know, everyone knows if you don't have it in stock. I'm gonna bounce and go somewhere else to see and buy it from someone who has it for cheaper and more readily available. So all these problems kind of arise and they're very interesting. And so with Beacon, we went on this journey primarily to try and improve the way businesses, supply chains operate, particularly at the sort of the mid, the medium, you know, sized business end of the spectrum. And that's, that's really how we began. And, and you know, you sort of go through the twists and the turns. We began life with a you know, your sort of a simple visibility tracking layer, on top of a a forwarding service. And as our, as our product evolved and our customers expressed a strong desire for more of the technology side of things. We'd listened to those customers and we listened to them saying, gosh, you know, we really like this portal. Actually could, couldn't we use it for more than just the freight that Beacon's moving? You know, we, we, we value this stuff. And so you just carry on going down that road and before you know it, that becomes the entire business. And that's, that's the journey we've been on and that's where we are today. And it's it's been fun being primarily focused on the BCOs themselves, the shippers. And bringing value to that end of the spectrum, not singularly being focused on the logistics side. So it's, it's been been really, really fruitful and fun so far.Tom Raftery:
Nice. Cool. Interesting, and why is supply chain visibility, as you call it, crucial beyond just tracking freight and, and how do you, how does your approach differ from traditional methods?Fraser Robinson:
Yeah, so it's it's interesting and we sort of really learned this, I suppose, as we, as we started out offering a, a tracking portal with a forwarding service. And then you, you go into that, down that sort of, along that road and you really start to learn as you listen to your customers, you know, what is it that they actually want and what do they think they want? And so, of course, phase one, very naturally for businesses who have zero visibility, it's all go, well, we just need some visibility. We need something. I think the natural, the natural next step there is for logistics companies to offer a tracking solution to the, to the customer. So it makes sense. You know, so I've, I'm moving my stuff with Ocean Carrier A or Haulage Company B or Air Freight Carrier C and it makes sense that you would go there to have a look and see where's my stuff and when's it going to arrive, and all those good things. But what happens is, and this is a classic sort of evolution of technology we saw it in online travel and so many other, other businesses, what happens is that then everyone builds a tracking portal. And, you know, most companies don't use just one carrier. Most companies don't use just one mode, let alone one carrier in that one mode. And so then you get, so everyone wants a portal, and then everyone builds a portal, and then suddenly your customer has to log to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 portals. You know, it's sort of, you get this multi-portal problem. And so technology evolves and a new problem emerges. And what we started to hear was, first of all, that quite simple multi-portal problem, which is businesses saying, actually, I'd really rather just have one portal, that I can log into to see where everything is. And then there's a, a much deeper, more, and that, and that, that's quite a, i, I would argue a more tactical problem, but what it unlocks is a much more strategic benefit which is the data side of things. And you know, I think anyone would you can argue the toss on when AI will be here. Some argue now, some argue later, but I think what's indisputable is the role that data plays in automation and that if you have no data, then you have no automation. And I think that that, what we very quickly saw was that when businesses rely on their carrier's portal, for track and trace, they are simultaneously leaving all of their data with the carrier. They don't have it. They, they aren't storing it, they aren't using it for themselves. They're essentially giving it to their supplier, their carrier, not for their own benefit. And that by bringing your visibility solution, taking ownership of that, as a shipper and having, not only are you solving that sort of multi-portal problem, what you are really doing, which is so much more structural and more strategic, is you are really starting to take ownership of all of your supply chain data, irrespective of which carrier or supplier or haulier you are using. And then it belongs to you. And when, when it belongs to you, then you are building that foundation of strategically improving your supply chain because. What I think is indisputable is that you know, even the best supply chain consultant in the world can't really do anything unless they've got the information required to be able to make things better. So I think that's where, you know, our customers have really started to see a much bigger, much more strategic, more structural change in their supply chain optimization through going, progressing with visibility. It's, it's a, it's a much bigger thing than just where's my container and when's it going to arrive? And that's been exciting 'cause that opens the path to automation, not just optimization, but truly automation. And that's a, a very exciting journey for, to see businesses start to go on.Tom Raftery:
Interesting. Just spell it out for people who are listening, fraser, what are some potential practical .advantages of having your own data versus leaving it with the shippers or whoever.Fraser Robinson:
Yeah, definitely. So, so look, I think, let, let's, let's, let's talk about that, this path to automation actually'cause it, it, it begins with data. So it's a, it's a natural, a natural way to address that question. The path to automation really begins with accumulating the data. So that you have it, and I'd like to be very clear about what that data is. I think that there's so much talk about data in the world. You know, say, oh, data's everything and data's the new oil or the new gold, or whatever it happens to be. But I think for many that it's not clear what that data is. And in supply chain, the way and from Beacon's perspective, that data is understanding. If you, if you have a timestamped record of, so for example, which SKUs were ordered and when and from who and how long did it take to make them, and when was the cargo ready date? And were the number of SKUs agreed, manufactured? When were those things containerized and when were they collected? And by who? How long did it take for them to get from the factory to the port of loading? And how long did it take to get from port A to port B? Was there a transshipment port, and what were the delays and why, and who was the haulier that collected them? How long did the goods sit in customs? How long did it take to get your end, end warehouse and in what quantities and so on. If you have timestamped and recorded all of these minutiae, all of these events, all of these moments in time, what you start to build up is an incredible supply chain graph of the journey of your SKUs from, we sort of what we call birth to death, which is really the the journey of, of those, of those objects. And once you have that, you can really start to identify where there are problems because suddenly you can compare what happened with this particular Yantian to Felixstowe route this month versus last month and the month before and the year before, and with which carrier. And, and for how much? And so on. So this is the data. Okay? So this is the data we're talking about. And you start to accumulate all that. Then the next step is, okay, let's just start with boring, plain old reporting. Okay, here's a report of what happened last month or in the last three months. It's, it's nothing more than actually what, how many volumes, what SKUs where, when you know all that stuff. Once you start to have standardized consistent reporting. Then the next evolution beyond that is you can start to analyze it and and gain insights. So what does this report now tell us?'cause we can now compare what happened last month to the month before or the same month last year. We can start to pull in third party data as well, which we do, which allows you now to start comparing not only how did you do against yourself. But how did you do compared to how others did? So you, you can see where this starts to go, and once you can compare to how you did or how others did, then, then you get that wonderful leap to the next level of the data transformation, which is what should I do to close the gap with what's best in class? How, what? What did those businesses do? Or what did we do last time that was so great? And shouldn't we repeat it? So you can see how that data journey then takes you to those insights. And once you are there, it's not a stretch to start to see how insights become recommendations In an automatedTom Raftery:
You can see how the data starts to say, oh, you should try this, use this carrier instead of this carrier. Because X, Y, Z reason, and then a recommendation is only one step away from automation because a recommendation is really giving you as the, as the user to accept a recommendation. And you know, if you're good enough that there comes a time when actually the recommendation becomes the defacto standard. So that's sort of the path to automation, which, which again has to have data, doesn't work without data. You know, I try and refer to that's the journey that we are on certainly is, is to become a supply chain recommendation engine. I mean, that's not a, a highly marketable, marketable thing to say, but that's, that's the, the reality of where this is going. And it's very powerful. And, you know, anyone who's ever, I don't know if you use, you know, Gmail for example, but, but people are always amazed when they say the How on earth does Gmail know what I'm going to write next in my email? It's incredible. It recommends the next four words. Well, the, the, the way it does that is it's just, it, it's able to consume so many of your previous emails and it understands the sequence of words and how you, how you, you know, line up sentences. And, and supply chains if you've got the data, it's not so different. You can start to see patterns, see improvements, and make recommendations. So, but that is all built on a foundation of data. And so that, that is I hope, I hope it's not too too complicated a, a description of it. But that, that actually, I hope is in simple terms, the journey that most businesses now are starting to go on, but it starts with, with plain old tracking. That's where it begins, is the accumulation of the data that in a way, that's what generates the data. And so again, bringing it full circle, you know, you, if you log into your carrier X tracking portal and, and use, use, that you are literally leaving your data there and it's not yours. And, and the other thing I'd say is that, you know, by working with the logistics companies portals, again, it's great to have them. It's fantastic that they're all all doing it, but more and more we're seeing businesses, as they appreciate data wanting to start to do things like integrate with their ERP. You know, it's a natural thing to want to do is to connect your data to your ERP, but there's this inbuilt resistance to integrating your ERP with your logistics provider because you tend to choose your logistics provider because of price and service and you need to maintain some flexibility to be able to change logistics provider. And if you've gone and integrated , you know, logistics company A or B into your ERP, and then in six months or 12 months you decide not to work with them anymore because whatever reason, then it's, it's been a, a lot of work for naught. So there's a lot of benefits for shifting the emphasis on who maintains the data away from the logistics side of the fence to the shipper side.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And where? Are you sourcing? Where is Beacon sourcing all that shipping information to provide to your customers?Fraser Robinson:
Yeah, so we've, we've gone out and integrated ourselves with a huge number of data sources. Many direct to carriers. Some through third parties. You know, you've got satellite data, you've got milestone based data, you've got, you know, traffic data on the haulage side. So there's, there's a ton of data sources out there and, and we're in this really rich time actually in supply chain where data is starting to proliferate at source. You know, the availability of of information as to the locations of, of trucks, or ships, or containers, is really exciting. And so all of that data is emerging at, at great scale. And so there's a, you know, there's a lot of work to be done to access it, ingest it, which we do. And then, you know, because it's still emerging and fairly nascent, a lot of that data is still imperfect. It's, it's, it's not always clean. That there aren't really consistent standards, as to how data should be organized. One carrier might do it this way, another carrier does it this way. Even the terminology varies. You know, they'll call one milestone this thing and they'll call. So there's still a, we're still in that stage of the data's being exposed. It's incredibly exciting. There's still, you have to aggregate it, clean it, structure it in order to make it truly useful. But that's how we do it. You know, we, we aren't just white labeling somebody else's, solution. We, we really are doing some of that heavy lifting ourselves as well with a ton of different partners on the data side.Tom Raftery:
and at the start you talked as well about collaboration. And making everyone aware of the status of shipments at any point in time. And I, you know, threw in a, a comment about faxing them the information, which is obviously not what you're doing. So can you tell us what it is you're actually doing so that everyone does have real time visibility of, of the status?Fraser Robinson:
Definitely, definitely. And you know, in a way I'm, I'm very pleased you asked that because what we're really passionate about doing is trying to move the conversation forward, from tracking, you know, and visibility. Of course, that's what we do. And, you know, but that's table stakes. It's, it's no longer enough just to have that, you know, that's really baseline. And as we worked early days with our, with our platform, we sort of noticed something happening as businesses started to be able to have at their fingertips, a a, a real time search engine really for your supply chain, which is what Beacon at its core is. I mean, if you imagine if you've ever booked a flight online or a hotel online, you know, or use Google, quite frankly, think of Beacon like that. You can search and filter and sort all of your, all of your supply chain information in real time. So, but we, we started to hear our customers say, oh, this is wonderful. We, we love this. You know, and, and then we'd say, well, what, what do you do next? They go, oh, it's amazing. Now I know exactly where everything is and what's changed at my fingertips. And then they described to us their solution to what they did next was, you know, our early customers would say, I'll tell you what I do. There are 10 people that need to know what's going on with this stuff coming into Felixstowe from wherever. So I do my search and I filter by Felixstowe and Yantian and Carrier X or whatever it's, and then you know what I do? I do a and you get your search results. And then they said, they'd say, I do a screen grab of that, and I paste it into an email and I email it to the 10 people that need to know what's going on. I go, wait, wait, hold on. You do what? They go, yeah, yeah. That's what we do. It's amazing. And then, and then, and then I say, well, and then what happens? I go, well, then what happens is I get 10 emails in reply asking me why it's changed, asking me if we've updated the haulage company because the, the ETA's late, what, whatever it is, you have questions. And then I have to reply to 10 emails. And, and then I say, well, what happens when the ETAs change again, which they will? Well, I do it all over again tomorrow. And, and you go, well, this is madness. You know, this is, this is lunacy. And, and so, you know, and, and being a, a tech business, we obviously use, you know, ad nauseum. We use products like Google Docs or Google Sheets or Jira or Miro or Figma or, you know, and Slack and, and, and. All the classic cloud-based collaboration platforms, which all moved away from the idea of, you know, the old attach, upload the word document with the red line, email it over, download it, make edits, reattach it. Oh, it's crazy. So we sort of learned from that collaboration concept which is already, you know, in the world and realize actually that the collaboration problem in supply chains is, is a, is a much bigger, much meatier problem actually than just tracking. And And so what we did is we built into our platform this concept of live boards, which allows the team that's in charge. The, the logistics team or whoever, quite frankly, to log in and create these bespoke boards as they would do a Miro board or a Google Doc, which has all the real time tracking information in it. Then you share that with everyone who needs to know. Don't email them, just share that URL with them, bespoke to whatever the particular view is, and then move the conversation into the board. Replace email with commenting and chat in the board itself so that people can really tag a particular container or a PO and ask a question of the person and, and really bring everything into that space. Your documents are all there, your conversation, your chat. And I think that this is what gets us excited because this actually is the, is I think the much bigger challenge in supply chains. It began with where's my stuff the data? And now it's moving very, very much into the zone of how do we make everyone's job easier? How do you empower teams? And it's just not good enough to give everyone a login to a platform. It's just that's, that's just, that's just doesn't make the most of cloud-based collaboration. So, that, that's the collaboration theme for us. And I think it's. I think it's, I don't know if it's unique to us, but we certainly haven't seen anyone else doing it, doing it the same way.Tom Raftery:
And what are your customer's response to this shift because it's a big mindset change for them to, to be doing it this way. Right.Fraser Robinson:
it is, it is a big mind mindset mindset shift. And, and, and I, I remember, I. I remember for myself the shift from Word documents and emails to Google Docs was a big shift. Or, well, Microsoft 365, you know, choose your platform. But I remember having a, a, a pretty monumental aha moment when I, when I understood the power of being able to suddenly collaborate in, in one place, you know? And that was monumental. And I, I don't, I mean, I definitely consider myself to be a, you know, collaboration space platform, Google Docs, power user. I mean, I, I, I just, I could never go back and I think that what we've already seen with our early customers is because of the work that's gone before us. Because Google Docs and Miro, and Jira, JIRA and so on, they already exist. I think that's laid the, the, the foundations for us and actually our, our customers. We only launched boards, you know, recently, and they get it immediately. And, they're already asking for more, which is a great sign, you know, because, I mean, you create a monster in doing it 'cause it's, you know, but, but it's exciting because they get it and they want more, more, more. And I think the, the chat piece or the, the commenting piece has been very powerful too. I think that people are seeing how it moves you out of your inbox. I'm not the first person to say in the tech world, your inbox is a terrible place for workflow management. It's, it's possibly the worst prioritization tool there is. And I think getting supply chain teams outta that is, is a very, very powerful thing. So that, that's, that's an area for us that's very exciting.'cause it unlocks that whole vector of, you know, becoming that, that supply chain assistant. Where you can start to actually communicate with your teams and make recommendations and say, Hey, this, these documents in an automated fashion, these documents are missing from this shipment, or this is running late. Have you let the haulage companies know you, you know, you can see how it starts to evolve and go from there.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. One of the other big shifts we're seeing in supply chain and in technology and, and in industry in general, is the shift to a greater emphasis around sustainability. And so I noticed that you know, on your website you talk about access to scope three emissions data, for example. So can you talk to me a little bit about that, the sustainability data that you are, you know, making more visible for your, your customers and how that's been used?Fraser Robinson:
Yes, definitely. So Scope three emissions is absolutely when we talk to businesses. You know, it's a, it's, it's a huge part of any business's you know, footprint. Maybe there's so much data out there. It's, anyway, it's 60, 70, 80%. I mean, it's huge, right? Because it, it sort of encompasses all of your, your manufacturing base, your supply base, and the transportation piece. So it's, it's a, it's a big thing, big area. And I think that where a lot of businesses get slightly you know, deer in the headlights about this particular issue is that I think they look at it as scope three. Because Scope three has a name. They, they look at the whole thing and go, we've got to solve Scope three. Mm-Hmm. And you look at it and you go, you know, swoon, I, I don't to begin. But actually you've got to slice it down into chunks, into consumable chunks. And the thing about the transportation piece, particularly when you use a platform like Beacon, which is monitoring all of your global transportation stuff, tracking ocean, air, and road, you are overcoming one of the initial biggest hurdles, which is how do I get all of that data in the first place into one place? On the transportation piece, which is again a meaningful slice of Scope three. Now Beacon can't solve yet all Scope three, but if you attack the transportation bit of Scope three first, that's a, a big slug.Tom Raftery:
And by working with Beacon, you've, you've already solved the first problem, which is centralizing all of your transportation data in one place, in one consistent form.Tom Raftery:
And then, and then it's just really, you know, the work from there is doing the calculations. And what are the outputs? So, you know, as opposed to, oh, we've worked with, you know, seven different carriers, over three different modes over the last two years. You know, you can see how any business will go, where do we begin? How do we do this? And, okay, well, maybe carrier A, B, C, and D, they can all send us or forwarder A, B, and C. They can send us their data, but is it complete? Then you've got to do this mapping exercise. Has it been calculated the same way? I mean, it's, it's a, well, you know, I, I, I don't, probably don't need to explain it anymore. I think anyone who's been involved in this knows the headaches involved with that. So I think one of the wonderful, byproducts, if you will, of centralizing your visibility into one place is that you also have a central, consistent and very well organized set of data for your emissions reporting, which is a meaningful piece of scope three. Not all of it, but a big chunk of it. And that's so, so that's my, whenever I speak to businesses as they look at Scope three, I think part of the problem, I know it seems so, so basic, but is the fact that it's got a name 80% of your footprint has one name, and so everyone thinks it's, I need to solve that thing in one go. But it's, it's not, it's not right. It's actually thinner slices. And we can certainly take care of a big, big chunk of that through, through visibility.Tom Raftery:
Nice. Nice. And where to next for supply chain and for, for Beacon? You know, what do you see coming down the line in the next four or five, 10 years?Fraser Robinson:
Yeah. So for me and for Beacon, I should say that the big theme ultimately on the horizon, we could argue how far is that horizon. but I think is that journey towards automation. Is that journey to far more optimized supply chains, which as I, as I've said before, is really about having the data, in the first place. And, I don't think it's a flight of fancy. I think when, you know, people, when we talk about automation, you know, Beacon's mission is less about, you know, robot warehouses, that's not, or self-driving trucks, that's not the automation we're talking about. The automation we're talking about is really taking that data, and as I say, may maybe overlaying a much gentler term, which is, you know, the recommendation engine rather than automate, rather than automation. You know, if I overlay that term, it's really about optimizing and, and advising you on your planning stage. You know, for me, the big, the big question I want to answer our questions is that, that our, that our customers have is, when and in what quantities should I order more SKUs based on when I expect demand to appear? And that is absolutely answerable with data. so we are steadfastly marching towards being able to address those questions of when should you order the goods based on when you need them to be in a certain place? Which carriers should you work with? What are the right routes? What are the right prices? Who the right haulier is, which suppliers tend to be more reliable on that particular route answering? All of those questions unlock huge strategic value for our customers because there is so much, you know, dollar inefficiency locked up in these processes, and I think that that is where we are absolutely going with in our, in our supply chain journey. And that begins with having the data in the right place.Tom Raftery:
That makes sense. Cool. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Fraser, is there any question I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?Fraser Robinson:
I mean, really I'm, no, you haven't. And I, there I don't have anything that I haven't said. I just want to sort of place emphasis on that data point and that single source of truth point. And, and really that we are doubling down on collaboration because I think that that is the next horizon in in supply chain optimization. And I think it's often overlooked. And so that, that's an area that I'm really excited for us to continue to press on.Tom Raftery:
Cool. Great. And Fraser, if people would like to know more about yourself or any of the topics we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?Fraser Robinson:
Please go to beacon.com. We have a huge amount of resources there. We've got white papers, we've got ROI calculators. There's a wealth of resource there available for free for customers to use if they want to learn more, not just about Beacon, but about how they can improve their supply chains. So please go to beacon.com.Tom Raftery:
Fantastic. Great Frazier, that's been really interesting. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.Fraser Robinson:
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.Tom Raftery:
Okay, thank you all for tuning in to this episode of the Digital Supply Chain Podcast with me, Tom Raftery. Each week, over 3, 000 supply chain professionals listen to this show. If you or your organization want to connect with this dedicated audience, consider becoming a sponsor. You can opt for exclusive episode branding where you choose our guests or a personalized 30 second mid roll ad. It's a unique opportunity to reach industry experts and influencers. For more details, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn or drop me an email to tomraftery at outlook. com. Together, let's shape the future of the digital supply chain. Thanks. Catch you all next time.