The Supply Chain Matters blog features our March 8, 2019 Edition of This Week in Supply Chain Management Tech, a brief synopsis of noteworthy supply chain management focused technology news which we believe would be of specific interest to our global-based readership.  This Week in Supply Chain Technology

Included in this edition are two weeks of highlights related to noteworthy announcements and/or developments related to Office Depot and Alibaba, Icertis, Hanhaa Limited, Roadie, TrueCommerce, Verisk and SAP SE.

 

Office Depot and Alibaba Form Strategic Alliance

B2B integrated distribution and office products retailer Office Depot, Inc., and Alibaba.com, one of the world’s largest B2B trading platforms and an Alibaba Group business unit have just announced a strategic collaboration. The stated goal of the collaboration is to empower U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to grow by tapping into the global B2B e-commerce marketplace.

According to the announcement, the collaboration will leverage the companies’ respective strengths to serve U.S. SMBs, including Office Depot’s deep relationships with more than 10 million U.S. business customers. Alibaba.com will leverage its global network of over 150,000 suppliers, a vast catalog of product listings and manufacturing capabilities, and an end-to-end technology platform that provides SMBs with a range of tools and services to grow their businesses.

Key areas of this collaboration are described as:

  • A new co-branded online destination, Office Depot on com.
  • Enhanced sales and U.S. based customer support leveraging Office Depot’s relationships with over 10 million U.S. businesses, and Alibaba’s direct line to sourcing experts with the Chinese online retailer’s global supplier base.
  • Driving further SMB adoption in joint marketing initiatives to include Alibaba’s upcoming March Expo- a month-long online promotional event to help SMB’s discover new business opportunities on Alibaba.com and in Office Depot and OfficeMax

After an initial launch period, both companies to expand their collaboration to develop additional customer offerings in faster, more transparent cost-effective distribution and fulfillment that will connect Alibaba’s global logistics and distribution network capabilities with Office Depot’s integrated B2B distribution network. Over time, the plan is to help both partners to provide U.S. based SMBs to sell their products to buyers in the U.S. and around the world through Alibaba.com.

From our Supply Chain Matters lens, our initial impression is that this is a rather significant announcement regarding online B2C retail and B2B capabilities, access to a global wide provider base, and a potential new U.S. foothold for China-based Alibaba. We will planning to provide added insight when more details, information and joint-activities become visible.

 

Icertis Leverages Blockchain Technology in Addressing Supply Chain Sustainability Conformance

Bellevue Washington based enterprise contract management technology provider Icertis has worked with Mercedes-Benz Cars to address conformance and broader leverage of sustainability visibility efforts across supply networks through the leveraging of smart contracts. The application, built on the Icertis Blockchain Framework, provides a de-centralized approach to track third-party adherence to Mercedes Car’s strict requirements for working conditions, human rights, environment and worker protections, without compromising contract confidentiality.

Mercedes Benz will utilize smart contracts, leveraging blockchain, to create an immutable public ledger of transactions relative to insuring that required corporate compliance terms are present on all pertinent supplier contracts. Visibility of contracts in the chain are restricted based on privilege in that sensitive commercial information will not be exposed. Mercedes committed to aggressive corporate sustainability standards where compliance is dependent on the auto maker’s multi-tiered supply chain supplier network.

According to Icertis, the effort began with seamless prototyping as to whether the problem required this type of approach and then to provisioning of a blockchain approach.

The technology leverages Corda’s distributed ledger technology provided on Microsoft Azure platform and designed to amass data from multiple companies in a standardized format at scale. Supplier’s join the blockchain as an alias while Daimler’s sustainability teams have access to a compliance dashboard with color-coded compliance indicators with categories.

In in addition to the Icertis Blockchain Framework, participants have the option to leverage Icertis’s AI capabilities to automatically verify the contractual obligations concerning agreed terms. The technology can additionally be applied to monitoring and compliance to data privacy regulatory standards such as GDPR or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

 

UK Based Technology Provider Announces Brexit-ready for Customs Self-Declaration

We have included an announcement that came across our news desk under the byline that when there is a well-understood challenge, technology will find a way.

Hanhaa Limited, a London based Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology provider announced the release of what is described as a Brexit-ready technical application to address the thorny issue of potential customs clearance at the Irish border along with congestion among major shipping ports. The application is described as an update to Hanhaa’s ParceLive IoT platform that leverages GPS technology to geo-fence the perimeters of ports and borders that represent the most complex Brexit challenge.

According to the announcement, when cargo is within two miles of a declared border, the cargo self-declares with documents that are electronically presented to customs officials including a live GPS fix on cargo updated for direction and speed of travel. Additional verification is presented indicating whether the cargo was opened and has adhered to known travel patterns from point of origin. Customs officials can then clear cargo automatically as the vehicle crosses the border with all taxes, duties and tariffs become payable under relevant practices. The technology provider indicates that this technology is operational today with live users across the world along with API data interfaces into existing logistics and customs systems.

Disclosure: Supply Chain Matters has not had the opportunity to review this described technology by did feel is worthy of mention given the ongoing news and uncertainties concerning Brexit implementation. What is also unclear is whether designated customs agencies are prepared to be able to manage sand utilize such technology.

 

Roadie Raises $37 Million in New Funding

On-the on-the-way delivery services and software technology provider Roadie announced that it has raised a $37 million in an oversubscribed Series C funding round. Investors from  the latest round included The Home Depot, Warren Stephens and Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, among others. This round reportedly brings the total funding raised to date to $62 million.

This funding follows Roadie’s announcement of recent delivery partnerships with Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, and Walmart. Atlanta based Roadie has used these partnerships to strengthen its foothold in 224 metro areas across the United States. Many of these metro areas were initially launched with consumers and small businesses but have now scaled to meet the needs of enterprises delivering anything up to 100 miles around every major city in America.

Because Roadie’s on-the-way model taps into unused capacity in passenger vehicles already on the road, the company claims that it is uniquely positioned to help America’s largest retailers bring same-day delivery to millions of customers nationwide — even in small cities and towns that most retailers struggle to reach.

TrueCommerce Now Qualified for SAP Business One Cloud

TrueCommerce, a global provider of B2B trading partner connectivity, integration and unified commerce announced that its core solution – TrueCommerce Foundry – achieved product qualification for the SAP Business One Cloud hosted by SAP. This qualification offers SAP Business One customers a cloud-to-cloud integration with TrueCommerce Foundry – a broad set of unified commerce services and apps that links customers, suppliers, channels, and systems.

According to the announcement, the integration for SAP Business One supports integration for key sales, purchasing and warehouse documents. It further provides key omnichannel capabilities, such as EDI, B2B/B2C e-commerce connectivity, pack & ship and order fulfillment.

 

Verisk to Acquire SAP’s Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) Business

Data analytics provider Verisk and SAP SE announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to codevelop the next generation of product compliance software applications. The partnership agreement is strengthened by Verisk signing a definitive agreement to acquire SAP’s Content as a Service (CaaS) business, which includes the Environmental Health and Safety Regulatory Content (ERC) and Environmental Health and Safety Regulatory Documentation (ERD) teams and data assets. No specific financial terms were disclosed, and the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

The business will become part of Verisk 3E, a Verisk business focused on providing intelligent compliance solutions in the environmental health and safety and product compliance space.

 

Note to Readers- Supply Chain Matters will feature our This Week in Supply Chain Tech series as announcements warrant.

 

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