INNOVATE TO STAY AHEAD
Interview with Doug Braun, Chief Executive Officer of Kewill
Supply chain innovation is important for companies of all sizes. It is not just another strategy for major industry players to up one another. It is a necessary tool even for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to stay in the business and achieve profitability. To ensure this in today’s evolving business environment, every company needs to develop and provide effective and innovative solutions to satisfy their customers.
“If they are willing to make the investment and adopt the latest solutions, they can leapfrog their competitors in other regions who are still using legacy technologies,” says Mr Doug Braun, Chief Executive Officer of Kewill, who believes this is the perfect time for SMEs, particularly in Asia Pacific to embrace the latest technology innovations.
In this issue, Mr Braun discusses the challenges of many forwarders and the supply chain industry in the region.
Can you share what has been the most exciting aspect of being the CEO of Kewill? How has your previous tenure as CEO of International Business Systems prepared you for this role?
Joining the premier multimodal transportation management and logistics software company in the world – with a customer list that is the envy of the industry – is a fantastic opportunity. The chance to join this dynamic growing company and be part of the Francisco Partner family again is a good fit for me. I know the supply chain industry well and have worked with Francisco Partners before – both are like family to me. After six weeks with the company, I am impressed with the deep domain knowledge and the passion our team has for our customers, our products, and the industry. Each and every day I wake up excited about the opportunity to create value for our customers and employees.
Having spent nearly 20 years with RedPrairie and living around the globe has prepared me well for the challenges that I face today and will face in the future. I have learned from several of the best leaders in the industry and do my best to combine those lessons, my experience and the ability to listen, to create a valuebased company that focuses on pleasing our customers.
What is your top priority as CEO of Kewill? What do you hope to achieve in your first year as CEO of Kewill?
I am learning about Kewill from our employees and our customers. I have visited all of our global offices and met with approximately 50 customers since I started in October. This background will be a substantial asset to me and my leadership team as we map out plans for the next one, three and five years. We are a company full of industry experts who have deployed our solutions around the globe for some of the most influential names in the industry.
How I can help move us forward is by utilising my past experience to improve the organisation’s focus – on products, service and support. My goal is to create value for our customers so that Kewill will continue to be the company people want to do business with.
What is Kewill’s strategy for the Asia Pacific region for the next 10 years?
The APAC region is a strategic pillar to our business and critical to supporting our global customer base.
Having entered the market via acquisition nearly 10 years ago, Kewill now has direct operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan, which are augmented with partners helping us in other countries. With Asia becoming a leader in global trade, we see continuing opportunities to expand the use of the Kewill MOVE® solutions in the APAC region.
What is your take on the supply chain industry in Asia Pacific? Do you see more local companies investing in automation and technology?
Companies in Asia that are looking to leverage technology are fortunate in that their peers in Europe and the Americas have already done a lot of the hard work in proving the viability and return of automation and technology solutions. If they are willing to make the investment and adopt the latest solutions, they can leapfrog their competitors in other regions who are still using legacy technologies.
The significant advantage APAC first time adopters have is that they would not have to complete as much business process re-engineering or change management compared with mature technology users who are adopting their second or third generation system.
Southeast Asia’s logistics infrastructure is frequently changing. How do you think the logistics and transportation providers need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and competitive in the region?
The key to staying ahead is to focus on the challenges of today while keeping an eye on the future. The most successful global organisations have always been those who are willing to accept that change in their markets will occur and can adapt their businesses ahead of the curve. At Kewill, we adopt this principle by working closely with our customers, industry groups and legislative bodies to understand the future market direction and then implement these changes into our software solutions in time for our customers to leverage them.
In your opinion, how will the finalisation of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) affect the region?
Both of these initiatives have the potential to significantly open up the trade lanes between the member countries. Many will see this as a positive change to do more of what they do or to deliver more to a wider marketplace. Others may see it as a bad thing and miss out on a golden opportunity.
Kewill MOVE on the Cloud is now running on Amazon Web Services. How does this benefit your customers?
This delivery option provides our customers with one of the largest, global Cloud offerings available in the marketplace. The overall benefit we have seen is that more small- and medium-sized customers have been able to access our solution. The barrier of entry has been lowered by removing a significant amount, if not all, of the upfront cost. This allows them to adopt the solution as an operational expenditure and removes the need for large and often lengthy capital expenditure approval processes.
Kewill’s solutions allow companies to manage the physical movement and storage of goods in the most efficient and effective manner possible while satisfying their clients’ needs. In the past, consumers have looked for the quickest or lowest cost delivery option, but we can foresee that soon many will seek the greenest arrangement. With the multimodal functionality and broad carrier network we have in Kewill MOVE®, providing the most eco-friendly alternative is only a matter of configuring some business rules.
A recent study conducted by Kewill and Transport Intelligence found that many forwarders, even some of the largest, lack the tools that would give them the visibility and the agility to prosper. Why is this so? How can they quickly rectify this?
The freight forwarding market can be compared to a very flat pyramid. That means there are a lot of small to medium companies and very few really large companies. The very large have traditionally suffered from two issues: growth through consolidation, where they generally have a disparate systems infrastructure that needs to be consolidated onto a single platform, or they have built in-house solutions and these are becoming too old and/or too expensive to maintain. Therefore, they are looking to leverage market leading solutions from providers like Kewill to deliver significant IT cost reduction and business process standardisation by bringing all their users onto a common platform.
Meanwhile small- and medium-sized forwarders have struggled because they tend to have less IT support capability or do not have the funds required to access enterprise class solutions and cant’ compete on a level playing field with their larger competitors. At both ends of the market, the margins on shipments are very low, with the average freight forwarder achieving approximately four to eight per cent gross margin, so solutions like Kewill MOVE® that provide the capability to upsell other value-added services like warehousing, customs, compliance and visibility are enabling forwarders of all sizes to improve margins and lock their customer in to their business as a more strategic and long-term partner.