We have seen an explosion in digital adoption from businesses across the supply chain over the past year, with COVID induced remote working putting a knife into the stranglehold that manual processes had in some corners of the industrial business world.
This adoption has been furthered by the increasing attention which global companies are paying to supply chain transparency and sustainability: something which digitalisation enables by creating more auditable processes and information sharing across counterparties. No more hiding behind thousands of opaque email trails.
Shipbroking, a naturally communication intensive process, is a logical supply chain function that can take advantage of digital tools to increase its service offering to clients. End clients who value sustainable and efficient practices expect as a minimum that their brokers carry out all communication with potential suppliers in a transparent and auditable way, and move away from emails in these efforts.
DeepStream created a “Multi Sided Buyer” digital module specifically for brokers to digitise their RFx offering.
The traditional assumption that there was 1 business on the “buyer side” and multiple businesses on the “supplier side” was not fit for purpose — and as such was leading to businesses reverting back to emails & attachments for supply chain communication, with all the risks that entails.
This applies equally to buyer-broker dynamics as it does to joint-venture dynamics and regulator-buyer dynamics. With flexibility, user-friendliness and security at the core of our product, we created a next-gen solution for next-gen businesses looking to digitise these supply chain communication flows.
Our product guru built out the ability to add on as many “Collaborators” to the buyer side of an RFx (tender) process as our users wanted — as always purely based on user feedback and zero pre-baked assumptions.
The proof is in the pudding.
The product has been battle hardened handling a huge amount of flows with brokers driving RFx transactions on behalf of clients — we have had north of 90 active shipping businesses transacting on DeepStream over the past couple of months.
Recently, we had a very cool RFx use case going through the platform. A partner of ours, a major global broker, completed an RFx acting on behalf of over 5 clients. As usual, all communication out to target suppliers was done within the platform, replacing emails & attachments in their entirety.
Via the proprietary ‘Multi-Sided Buyer’ architecture which the DeepStream cloud platform has, the partner was able to give granular audit only rights and bid unlocking rights to its end buyer clients. Previously, end clients in brokered RFx transactions had limited at best (zero at worst) visibility and auditability of all of the communication flows within the RFx process that was being done on their behalf. Using DeepStream, the partner was able to demonstrate their best-in-class value delivery in managing the entire RFx process, ensuring that their clients had real time audibility and rights based on granular permissions systems within the platform.
With over 30 target suppliers the streamlining of this information was not only an enhancement of auditability and communication compliance standards, but saved a huge amount of admin time for all parties (just think of all the emails which would have been flying around between employees at 40+ businesses all trying to get an RFx transaction done).
Opening sealed bids… without being allowed into the same room.
I always found it fascinating that the physical in-person opening bid ceremony was such a common practice.
So for some of our target businesses a spanner was thrown into the works when in person COVID restrictions were put into place. They wanted to trade! But there was the thorny issue of not being able to open bids in person at the same time whilst singing Kumbaya My Lord*. This had become impossible, but business needed to go on.
DeepStream came to the rescue — our platform allows users to replicate in-person sealed bid unlocking totally digitally. Sealed bids are put in place, unlocking mechanisms set within the platform, allowing the same practice to be done — but with every user able to do it via their secure access to their DeepStream account. In fact, with immutable audibility done in real time, the digital unlocking process is vastly more secure and compliant than doing unsealing bids in person.
This has been particularly useful for some of our shipbroker partners — again allowing them to solve business critical issues for their clients with the latest agile technology available.
DeepStream comes in as a game changer for the ship-broking industry, allowing them to deliver a better service to their clients whilst doing it within a completely secure digital environment — especially relevant in the current remote working environment.
Next-gen shipbrokers are winning market share
Brokers, as “middle men” within the supply chain, have often viewed digital software with some suspicion which has hindered adoption. This has hurt their service offering: denying their clients the compliance and efficiency that digital automation can deliver.
Some have decided to follow the failed approach of trying to build everything “in house” — a bit like BMW serving up a terrible BMW-owned map navigation experience, rather than using Google or Apple Maps. Specialisation of labour is real.
However, others have had the vision to adopt rather than resist agile technology to enhance their service offering for clients. In supporting these next-gen shipbrokers and the efforts in creating a more efficient and sustainable ecosystem, DeepStream have ensured that its digital platform caters for specific broker dynamics. The ‘Muti-Sided Buyer’ model outlined above is just one such example.
The end result is an enhanced offering for shipping clients that use our partner’s broking services, with our partner also being able to guide future software developments put in place by DeepStream. We are 100% agile and push out new enhancements every 2 weeks (in 2020 so far we have released 52 new enhancements to the product).
So yes, the pudding tastes delicious.
And I would also go further: end clients sticking with manual processes rather than going digital are endorsing non compliant and non sustainable supply chain practices.
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*I do not think that this is actually common practice.