Friday, 28 July 2017

Royale International Opens New Offices in Mexico

We are delighted to announce the opening of our brand new divisional offices in Mexico. This exciting move has been made possible thanks to a 400% increase in the shipment of automotive parts over the last five years. Mexico is now the third biggest country in terms of revenue, according to Salvador Marin, our senior account manager, falling only behind China and the US. The new offices mean we’ll be able to continue improving our services in Mexico and increase our business to new areas.

Royale has provided services to Mexico for many years through agencies or giving support to third party operations. The new offices will strengthen brand awareness in the country and makes it possible to dictate the growth and development of the company. Royale Mexico will make it possible to use most cost effective solutions and provide a more efficient service within the competitive market.

Marin spoke of the considerable flow of shipments made up of urgent components and parts moving from suppliers in Asia and Europe into production lines in Mexico. Marin also went on to mention that Royale is now experiencing an increase of business within the Nafta region moving from the US to Mexico and vice versa.

Mexico is working hard to increase their trade links and work with more foreign carmakers in areas such as Asia. This move is of benefit to Royale thanks to our strong presence in the area.  Our presence gives us a huge advantage over our competitors, along with our truly global footprint and expertise in Asia.

There are several issues that are being faced by suppliers and carmakers in Mexico. Several of the challenges are due to congestion and a lacking infrastructure. These failings have a negative impact on the inbound supply chain and increase the need for expedited services. There are investments and improvements being made to resolve these issues with the supply chain.  These improvements are necessary if Mexico wishes to “remain competitive on the world stage”, said Marin. Another challenging area is found in customs procedures. Changes are necessary in order to improve the supply chain as a whole.

Read more about our expansion into Mexico and Marin’s interview, here

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Royale International ships Airbus A330 Nose Cowl to Perth

Last week, Royale International was called out to assist a stranded Airbus A330 in Perth. The aircraft experienced mid-flight engine failure. 

The nose cowl, (which is actually part of the engine, not the nose!) was shipped out of Xiamen down to Perth to replace the damaged engine. 

Weighing in at over 11 tonnes this was no walk in the park with space on freighter aircraft to Perth extremely limited, but Royale made it happen! 

Well done to all our Royale International team!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The First Official Apple Store Opens in Taiwan

There was a lot of hype in Taiwan last Saturday. People gathered at the sleek curved sliding glass doors, eager to step inside the first Apple Store at Taipei 101, Taiwan. The curious crowds were welcomed in by staff so they could see the latest offerings Apple has on the market.  

The excitement was palpable as customers lined up from the night before in order to have the first look inside.  The store employs 130 employees. Customers can have hands-on time with the latest gadgets and Today at Apple sessions are also offered.  The sessions cover a variety of topics including coding, music, design, video, and art.

We were proud to play a small but very important role in the opening of the Apple Store at Taipei 100. Our team worked tirelessly to ensure all the furniture and general fittings arrived at the store in time for the opening. We think the store looks amazing and we are excited to see where the next ‘first’ Apple Store will be opening.  We’ll be ready to handle the delivery of items when our assistance is required.  

Read more about the grand opening, here

Friday, 7 July 2017

Why We Use Amazon Web Services - The Techy Bits

We recently shared how we improved our IT infrastructure to cope with challenges we faced with our partnership with 7-Eleven. After dealing with extreme peaks in one of the biggest online shopping holidays we needed to find a solution to avoid parcel build-ups in our warehouses and keep customers satisfied. We solved the problem by removing the need to use Excel Spreadsheets to manage inventory and replacing it with a cloud-based infrastructure and mobile app that was based on Amazon Web Services.  

With AWS we were able to auto-scale our servers. We choose AWS as they had low entry costs and we were able to pay for the services we used on a monthly basis. This flexibility made it possible to meet the demand during peak times in Taoboa, such as Double 11 and Chinese New Year.

A second challenge we faced when working to meet the management requirements for 7-Eleven’s parcel inventory was coming up with a way for all parties to coordinate shipments. The coordination platform needed to ensure everyone was kept informed, from the online retailers to our courier business units. 7-Eleven also requested that our system needed to support additional e-commerce merchants without affecting their core systems.  To achieve this goal we used AWS Lambda that made it possible to build a server-less backend. We also adopted the API Gateway so the different e-commerce merchant systems could all be easily integrated. Additionally, we also adopted AWS EC2 that made it possible to upload the inventory data to S3. We inserted a standard data structure with DynamoDB so all data formats could be standardised over all the 7-Eleven Stores.

After all the hard work, project manager Steven Kwok was proud to announce a 300% growth within the first six months of using AWS. Thanks to the new infrastructure we’re delivering over 1000 packages each day to the 370 7-Eleven stores we service. We are now providing a return service too.  Thanks to the simplicity of AWS we were able to launch the new project in 3 months. It’s safe, secure, efficient and SSL-compliant. The project is one of the contributing factors to helping us achieve ISO9001 accreditation. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Solving 7-Eleven Inventory Problems with the Cloud

One of the reasons we’re one of the leading express delivery service providers is thanks to our willingness to evolve and solve problems. We see opportunities for growth and insure we have secure and effective infrastructures in place to solve problems for our partners and clients. A good example of this can be seen with one of our partnerships that began life in 2015.

Taobao Shipments for 7-Eleven

We partnered with the convenience store chain 7-Eleven, providing Retail Distribution. We exclusively deliver the goods that are shipped by the Taobao e-commerce stores from mainland China to the 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong. Once at the stores the goods are then collected by the customer. In addition to the distribution of the goods, we were required to provide a parcel inventory service for the number of in-store parcels.
In order to provide an excellent service, we needed to make some improvements to our IT infrastructure.  We faced several challenges that were highlighted during the first Double 11 in 2015. Double 11 is the Single’s Day online shopping festival that is hugely popular with proud singles in China and has become one of the biggest online shopping days in the world.  We were hit with a huge surge in the amount of parcels that needed to be sent to the 7-Eleven stores.  One of the problems was a result of the generally small size of the 7-Eleven stores. Most stores are only able to store between 10 and 30 parcels at a time, causing pressure for the management of the 7-Eleven inventories.

Royale International Group Project Manager Steven Kwok remembers the challenges at this time. A couple weeks after the Double 11 saw the Royale International warehouses full of Taobao parcels as the 7-Eleven stores didn’t have the space to store them. It took two weeks for all the parcels to be processed and dispatched and many customers were getting in touch asking for news on their orders.  After realising that the inventory management model was not suitable, we decided a new infrastructure for Retail Distribution was necessary.  The infrastructure would be designed to cope with an increase in orders during peak shopping seasons in order to avoid backlogs of parcels at our warehouses.

Introducing a New Mobile Strategy

We combined our new cloud computing infrastructure using Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a mobile strategy to allow for real-time tracking and parcel inventory management for each 7-Eleven store.  The AWS infrastructure made it possible to streamline the processes that previously involved tracking parcel inventory using Excel spreadsheets for each store. These days, each store uses an Android device and uses our own parcel inventory management app. The app makes it possible for the staff at the stores to check parcels in and out. The data is sent back to our Retail Distribution System in real time. This improvement means that it’s possible to track the complete parcel inventory across all stores.  Real-time inventory control was enabled, improving tracking and forecasting simultaneously. Steven Kwok now has a new goal of introducing the new mobile client system to every 7-Eleven store in Hong Kong.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Automotive Logistics Europe Conference Silver Sponsors

We are incredibly proud and delighted to announce that we’re a principle Silver sponsor at the Automotive Logistics Europe Conference. The conference takes place on 06-08 June 2017 at the Kameha Grand Bonn, Germany.

The brings together logistics provider executives, tier suppliers and senior OEM and policymakers. The latest issues that are faced by the auto industry are discussed and solutions sought at the conference.  There will be an insight into where the supply chain in the automotive industry is heading along with the logistics challenges that are being faced in the sector. It’s also the perfect opportunity to network and enjoy conversing with other delegates.

We will be attending the conference and our team will be positioned at our booth, ready to discuss how we continue to strengthen our partnership with the automotive industry.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Chit Chat: General Business Etiquettes – China

Here are some of the general business etiquettes to expect in China.
  • Shake the hand when saying hello and goodbye, often accompanies with the nod of a head.
  • It’s important to address people with their professional title.
  • Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese.
  • Give your business card using both hands and have the Chinese side facing the recipient.
  • Examine business cards you are given to show appreciation and interest. Don’t write on them or fold them up.
  • Carry a case to place received business cards, don’t put them in your pocket or wallet.
  • Don’t exchange gifts at the firms meeting
  • Writing pens are considered to be a good gift
  • Don’t give anything that is white, black or blue
  • Don’t give anything in groups of four
  • Don’t give letter openers, clocks, handkerchiefs, straw sandals, scissors, knives, storks or cranes
  • Wrap the gift
  • Don’t open the gift straight away unless you are encouraged to do so
  • Refuse a gift before you accept it
  • Receive and give gifts using both hands
  • The Chinese often speak indirectly
  • Use eye contact
  • Don’t point with your finger, use the open palm
  • Never move anything with your feet
  • Don’t put feet on the furniture
  • Don’t snap fingers or whistle
  • Don’t refuse a drink
  • Be on time for your appointment
  • Being plenty of copies of the written documents for the meeting
  • The leader of the meeting should be the most senior member of your business.
  • The host of meeting will begin the business discussion after a small amount of small talk.
  • The Chinese will leave the meeting first.

Friday, 28 April 2017

What is production in supply chain?

Production is the part of the supply chain that makes and stores products. The different facilities that are used in production are the factories and warehouses when the products are made and stored. Managers of the supply chain need to decide how to find a balance between responsiveness and efficiency. Production facilities with a big capacity will be flexible and have the ability to respond quickly to demand. When the facilities capacity is being used it will not be able to cope as well with demand fluctuations. However, the capacity costs money and when capacity isn’t being put to full use it will not generate revenue.

There are two approaches to manufacturing, product focus and functional focus. The product focus is a factory that performs the different operations that need to take place in order to produce a product. The functional focus is concentration on a few operations that can be applied to making lots of different products. Examples of functional focus are making just some of the parts or performing assembly. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

What are the five areas of supply chain management practice?

The supply chain is a number of activities meeting the requests of customers. It uses a systems approach to organise and coordinate the flow of services or products to the end customer.  There are five areas where decisions need to be made:
  • Production – What are the products that are in demand? How much are required, who should produce them and by what time?
  • Inventory – What inventory needs to be stocked at each stage in the supply chain?
  • Location – Where should the facilities be located and do they need to be built? How will the flow of products be formed and used?
  • Transportation – How will the inventory be moved between the locations?
  • Information – What data will be collected and how much information needs to be shared throughout the chain?

Decisions that are made in these 5 key areas will define how effective the supply chain will be. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

What are the key concepts of Supply Chain Management?

There are a few underlying concepts of supply chain management that have remained the same for hundreds of years.  The term supply chain management was formed in the eighties and became a widespread turn in the nineties. Before then, the term logistics was used, along with operations management.

There are numerous definitions of supply chain management.
  • The supply chain is made from all the stages that are directly and indirectly involved in meeting the request of a customer. It includes manufacturers and suppliers along with transporters, retailers, customers and warehouses.
  • The supply chain is a network that is responsible for performing the functions of procuring materials, the transformation of the materials into intermediate and finished products and distributing them.
  • A supply chain aligns firms together to bring products to the market.

Supply chain management can be defined as:
  • The strategic coordination of traditional internal business functions and over other businesses in order to improve the supply chain.
  • The coordination of production, inventory, location and transportation among a group of businesses in a supply chain to be responsive and efficient for the served market.

Monday, 24 April 2017

How ICT contribute to the change of supply chain?

The speed of change in the supply chain has increased and is expected to continue increasing as technology continues to progress. Businesses are recommended to consider possible variations while designing strategies as these changes continue. Most changes in the supply chain are related to the Internet. Businesses began by using the Internet to confirm orders and paying suppliers continued on to important changes in purchasing behaviours thanks to the increased amount of information being available to potential buyers.

The World Wide Web was well known in the mid-nineties but it wasn’t until the late nineties that security was updated and consumers began trusting the system a little more. Browsing online gave businesses the chance of saving time and having a wider range of choice of suppliers.

Economies of scale in purchasing began to change too. It is now a lot easier for buyers to create joint purchasing agreements with other firms when this doesn’t break the law. Groups can be linked into the information systems of the purchasing companies. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chit Chat: Strategic Tech Trend 2017

Here are the top 10 strategic tech trends are found for 2017 as predicted by Gartner.
  1. Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to grow and learn. Deep learning will evolve into systems that are able to make predictions and adapt and even perform autonomously.
  2. Everyday tasks will be made easier thanks to intelligent apps and virtual personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.
  3. Intelligent things are physical objects that use machine learning and are able to interact with people.
  4. Augmented technology and virtual reality and other immersive technologies make it possible for people to interact with software and other people in new ways.
  5. The digital twin is a dynamic software model of physical things or systems that need sensor data in order to respond understandings and make improvements. It’s predicted that in the next 3 to 5 years there will be hundreds of millions of things using digital twins.
  6. Blockchain allows for value exchange transactions to be grouped into blocks regardless of location (used for bitcoin). They have the ability to transform industry operating models.
  7. Digital mesh gives people access to apps and information and the ability to interact together and is expected to overtake chatboats.
  8. The MASA is where mobile and web apps and IoT apps are linked using a broad mesh of back end services and this is what end users see as an application.
  9. 5 of the key areas that will enable new digital businesses are information systems, analytics and intelligence, IoT, business ecosystems and customer experience.
  10. Adaptive security architecture is intelligent digital mesh and related digital tech platforms and app architectures. They result in an increasingly complex world where security is concerned. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

How the supply chain works?

The main goal of supply chain management is to increase the throughput while reducing the inventory and the operating expense. The throughout is the rate the sales take place with the end customer. In some markets the customer will pay top dollar in order to receive a high level of service and in other markets the customer will want to pay as little as possible for a product.

Yesterday we looked at the five areas where supply chain managers need to make decisions: productions, inventory, location, transportation and information. It is essential to understand each of the drivers as it directly affects the supply chain. Then it’s necessary to develop appreciation for the results that can be achieved by using different combinations of the drivers.

Operations and Supply Chain Management (SCM)

The focal operation perspective shows supply chain management as a way of managing operations the form supply and the operations that form demand. Supply chain management needs to find a balance in order to meet the requirements of the customer and the operations resources. Balance is achieved through coordinating the deliveries and services and products from the supply chain. This requires time to supply the quantity and the quality of the items or services that are demanded. The purchasing function and operation and suppliers are all used. In healthcare a simplified supply chain could be used, focusing on the flow of information and physical flows and realising that the right information is required so as not to distort the chain.

When integrating support activities the healthcare industry needs to consider legal frameworks and the resources of the supply chain parties. A growing trend is for companies to use shared services that provide supporting functions for lots of units that are consolidated into a single provider.

In the UK the NHS formed shared services as a separate business in 2003. The new service provided automated invoicing services to hospitals. They now also manage the payroll and procurement. They have also considered outsourcing some activities to other countries such as India in order to reduce their own costs. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

What are the opportunities of supply chain management in healthcare?

Can supply chain management be used as a management technique in healthcare? In order to answer that questions many sources, both primary and secondary, were researched. Examples were also taken from other industries to see if they could be used in healthcare. All the information gathered had to be interpreted in an ever changing environment driven by globalization and advancements in technology. Purchasing is not global sourcing thanks to globalisation and the internet is offering competitive opportunities.

The supply chain makes it possible to match supply with demand. A balance needs to be struck between suppliers and customers. All the upstream and downstream flows couldn’t be covered all at once so it was necessary to focus on medical surgical products and pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one side and the first tier customers on the other. A starting point is the value change. The value chain allows for the integration of other activities that support the supply chain.

It was demonstrated that outsourcing the supply chain at primary level can be advantageous as it also works with support activities and sharing infrastructure opportunities. This is a new way of thinking that is now critical for the future of the supply chain management in healthcare. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

eBusiness in Healthcare & Medical Informatics

eHealth is a topic that is frequently discussed these days. One of the ehealth areas that have been practically ignored is ecommerce.  Health and medical informatics are more focused on inpatient care topics and the business side of things is left to other areas. The business issues relate to topics such as cost reduction. Quality and costs are on one side and health information systems are on another. There is a need to reduce costs without reducing quality. Hospitals need to convert data that is collected from patient care processes and turned into information that can be used in management.  Clinical pathways are an example of instruments that are concentrating on cost reduction without affecting quality negatively. Clinical pathways that are being integrated into information systems and they show that there is a need for providing data from clinical processes and working to resolve quality and cost issues.

The flow of information is moving from patient care to management and back again. The data is being organised using resources such as materials, facilities and human resources. This data is used by the patient care professionals to ensure they are fully informed and they have the ability to perform tasks. An example of how an effective materials management can be beneficial is in the case of faulty products. The product charge numbers are all stored in material management. Once a recall is made the products can be pulled and any harm can be avoided. Clinicians can be better informed thanks to structured product information that uses standardised classification systems and technologies. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Why is eBusiness in healthcare different from other industries? – Part 2

Healthcare is different from other industries. It has unique characteristics such as data, information, methods and knowledge which are not usually found outside the industry. Everyone in the industry is trained to high standards. The general materials management software that is used in hospital pharmacists doesn’t use the same terminology and processes of pharmacists. Databases have to be modified to suit all the different healthcare objects.

The procurement of medical supplies needs product knowledge. The medical devices and pharmaceutical products have very complex features. The knowledge required to use these products is only obtainable in clinical environments and it’s necessary to have understanding about the medical conditions that the product is treating or helping. This is the main reason that physicians will make orders for medical devices directly and not through the purchasing department of the hospital. These types of products are just not compatible with a typical purchasing department situation. Healthcare professionals need to be a part of the strategic measures that are found in procuring medical suppliers. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Why is eBusiness in healthcare different from other industries? – Part 1

Healthcare cannot simply make use of the e-business strategies found in other sectors. Healthcare requires strategies that will work with the unique industry that it is. Other approaches would not be suitable with the amount of information and knowledge that’s necessary for the healthcare market. eProcurement and eCommerce in healthcare are also different when compared with other industries.

Quality Driven

Promoting health and providing healthcare to the public are a couple of the primary goals of healthcare. They work to prevent diseases, cure illnesses and provide care for people in need. The other goals are not as important to helping the patients. This is why quality is so important. Other sectors could focus on reducing costs at the expense of quality, but that approach isn’t acceptable in healthcare. Customers of healthcare choose products for their quality and because they work, not because they are the cheapest available. Lives are at risk, so quality is of the upmost importance.

Costs do play a role in healthcare. They do have a set of financial frameworks and costs are a major concern in the Western world.  However, there are needs to be a balance between the costs and quality is necessary. Additionally, cheaper products don’t always lead to savings at the bottom line in the long term. Sometimes bargains can result in losses.

International and National Dimension

At the international level you have the Healthcare professionals and biomedical scientists. The manufacturers in the healthcare industry are global. The healthcare systems are set in each individual country.  All the knowledge in medicine comes from all over the world and there are researchers exchanging information between countries. Manufacturers are international and they work towards producing goods that are necessary to maintain the demand around the world. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Chit Chat: Top Tech Trend for 2017

Gartner predicts that companies around the world will spend $3.5trillion on IT by the end of 2017. A lot of that spending will be on software and online services, as companies try to use the cloud computing model. Another area of spending will be on IT services. Let’s take a look at some of the top tech trends that are predicted to be big news this year.

Virtual Assistants and AI

Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa are being used in more areas and expected to grow in intelligence over the coming months.  Research by Grand View Research has shown that the market size of the virtual assistant market will reach 12.28 billion USD by 2024. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are also expected to grow after a strong year in 2016. Markets and Markets predict the AI market to grow to 5.05 billion USD in the next 3 years.

BI Intelligence

Blockchain is the technology that was behind Bitcoin. Blockchain makes it possible to distribute a database over computers, regardless of where they are. It is used to track digital money or any other digital things. Blockchain apps are being developed for many industries including health care and finance. Blockchain technology is therefore expected to grow to $2.3 billion in the next four years.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Virtual technology was certainly a popular topic in 2016 but it’s still had a hard time actually making an impact. Despite the slow update of VR headsets, this technology is still expected to be a game changer for work and entertainment. This year Microsoft will release the new HoloLens and Facebook is still working on Oculus Rift apps. The AR/VR market is expected to grow to $162 billion in 2020, from just $5.2 billion in 2015.

Intelligent Things

AI and the Internet of Things are expected to collide this year. The Internet of Things is when items are connected with the internet. You may already have an electronic toothbrush that can connect online. The natural progression for IoT is to join forces with AI and make use of machine learning. Devices will begin communicating and start making decisions. The IoT market is expected to grow to $661.74 billion in the next four years. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

About procuring and providing medical supplies in eBusiness

Medical suppliers are essential in the care process of healthcare providers. They are the goods that are used in healthcare and they are made up of many different types. There are rough distinctions made between the medical-surgical suppliers, devices and prescription drugs. In some cases, medical supplies are the nondurable goods such as medicines and the durable goods such as appliances. In other cases, the medical supplies are classified more intensely.

Buying and selling medical suppliers are different to buying other goods such as food or clothing. Medical supplies are only found in healthcare and used in that industry. It is vital that the buyer and the seller have the required knowledge as the products are so complex in nature and closely connected with primary processes.  The amount of knowledge required is greater than in any other industry as it can mean the difference between life and death. Both parties involved in the buying and selling processes must be knowledgeable. You will find that pharmacists and clinicians are involved in the purchasing process as they have the experience and knowledge that is needed.

Legal knowledge is one thing, it’s also important to use information that can be used to make the right purchasing choices. Evidence-based purchasing is used in the NHS in England. This is when fact based decision making in purchasing (especially in non-pharmaceutical products) is used alongside the approved processes.

Competition between manufacturers and R&D activities are a central characteristic of technical innovation of medical supplies.  Lots of the firms in healthcare have R&D departments that develop new products. As a result the life cycle of tech products is quite short. The short life cycles man that there is a need to update catalogues frequently and ensure they are distributed regularly using electronic methods. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

What is the status quo of eBusiness?

It’s currently very difficult to trace the success of electronic business transactions with actual statistical data. What we can do is see how much we as individuals use online business in both our personal and professional lives. With the difficulties in gaining accurate statistics it’s important to treat figures with care and respect. It’s easier to look at trends that have become apparent.

  1. B2B are more dominant than B2C. In the USA, B2B make up 90% of all online transactions
  2. Electronic wholesale trade is almost 10 times as high as electronic retail trade in the US.
  3. 75% of the amount of eCommerce found in private firms is attributed to B2B transactions in Canada
  4. 50% of firms purchase online in the EU, with variations found in different sectors
  5. Only 17% of EU firms offer online orders.
  6. 85% of eCommerce sales in wholesale trade are EDI-based
  7. Online buying and selling continues to grow in both B2B and B2C.

B2B has a much longer history than B2C, which might explain why it is so dominant.  The size of the company in question will also have an influence on the level of online selling and purchasing. Larger organisations are more likely to have a solid ICT infrastructure in place, making it easier to buy and/or sell online. They are better connected and equipped for eBusiness.
As ebusiness continues to grow, digital information streams are becoming more integrated. As a result of integration the need for eBusiness standards has become a top priority. There is a need to standardise business transaction protocols, catalogue formats and the product and services classification systems.

eBusiness plays an important role in the economy of multiple countries. The larges contributions come from the B2B transactions as found in supply chains and other business networks. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What is the role of process and information management in eBusiness?

Information and communication technology is used to streamline processes and allow the seamless flow of information. It is still a powerful tool that can be used to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Yes, ICT is now very common and the norm in many cases, but it can still provide a competitive advantage regardless of this fact. ICT is especially powerful when a strong ICT infrastructure is in place. Some of the indicators for the readiness of companies looking to venture into or improve their eBusiness operations include:
  •        ERP systems
  •         Narrow and broadband Internet access
  •         An online presence giving information regarding eBusiness activities

Adoption to eBusiness is high in industrialised countries, but the use of ERP systems and supply chain management systems still needs some work.  Therefore we are not yet ready to completely replace paper-based trading with the electronic alternative. The use of sophisticated information systems is not as widespread as it should be which is why it’s still possible to gain a competitive advantage using ICT.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

What is eBusiness in healthcare?

eBusiness in healthcare is different to eBusiness in other sectors. The main reason for this is because healthcare is different; it has peculiarities that just aren’t found anywhere else. However, eBusiness continues to play an important role in healthcare.  eHealth is the umbrella term for connectivity in care, contents and eCommerce for healthcare. eBusiness is a subset of eHealth that encompasses the commerce domain. eBusiness in healthcare can be defined as all the electronically supported processes of the providers that start from business management, as well as supplier and manufacturer processes in healthcare too. eCommerce in healthcare related to the online selling by the suppliers and the online purchasing or eProcurement by the healthcare providers.

Electronic media that are in place to support the online buying and selling have to take into consideration the peculiarities of the healthcare sector. Detailed product and process knowledge is essential for procuring medial suppliers. The products are purchased by process owners such as pharmacists, which make the sector unique. Therefore, eBusiness has to use knowledge when creating an automated supply chain.

Poor outcomes in this sector can mean death, and therefore health care providers need to focus on quality and getting things right first time. Price is not what customers base their purchasing decisions on. They care most about quality and this is what has a strong influence on their behaviour. That’s not to say that cost of care isn’t important as they do play an important role. Reducing costs for both healthcare providers and suppliers are the driving forces behind adopting eBusiness procurements. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

What is eBusiness?

eBusiness isn’t merely the process of taking traditional business operations and processes online. It’s more than just applying technology to the business. It allows new relationships between suppliers and customers to be formed. eBusiness is here on a global scale. It includes all processes, both internal and external, of an organisation to facilitate business. Business partners are connected together using the most effective electronic media.

eBusiness is certainly here to stay. It has multiple benefits for all parties. The key benefit is reducing operating costs such as process costs and knowledge sharing capabilities.

In eBusiness you find eCommerce. It is all about trading electronically, with B2B (business to business and B2C (business to consumer) relationships. There are lots of different types of technical approaches that can be adopted by organisations which need to be connected with their business partners. Electronic marketplaces are extremely important. The electronic marketplaces can be forums where prices can be negotiated and goods presented. They can also be technical hubs where connectivity and applications are provided. Whatever type of marketplace is used, they are all far more than simple email exchanges. When exploiting the benefit of eBusiness, the workflow systems that are able to support modern standards securely are an absolute must.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Chit Chat: Medical Cost Trend 2017

The growth rate in medical costs continues to remain consistent but is expected to go above economic inflation. Cost saving strategies need to be recalibrated in the months ahead as the older ones are no longer viable. Around half of the employer health costs come from inpatient and outpatient spending but prescription drug costs are now increasing. The drug spend is around 17% of the total costs, which is still quite small. 

Two cost inflators are convenience related costs and increasing available access for behavioural health. There is a demand for convenient ways of obtaining care, but the increase in costs now may mean reduced costs in the future. Behavioural healthcare use is now considered to be mainstream and it now is an important part of the health benefits provided to employers.

Speciality drug costs are reducing and not growing as fast as they have done in the past. PBMs are another cost deflator as they introduce new aggressive strategies. Political pressure is also expected to keep the cost of drugs in check. High-performance networks are being explored as a way of improving quality while lowering costs.
Employers are working to find ways of reducing costs by considering:
  •          High performance networks
  •          PBM arrangements
  •          Realignment of cost sharing for ambulatory services

Friday, 7 April 2017

What are the elements of Supply Chain Management?

An efficient supply chain requires all activities across the chain to be coordinated.  One of the main aspects is translating customer demand into activities at each level of the chain. The first element of supply chain management is customers. Marketing is given the task of working out what customers want, how much they will want and when they will want it. Product and service demand need to match up with the wants of the customer and the capabilities of the operations. Each component of the supply chain involves processing. Processing is the core of all organisations. Inventory is another staple in supply chains. Inventories need to be carefully balanced to avoid delays and out of stock issues upsetting customers. Avoiding overstocking is another important task, helping to reduce cost and avoid wastage.

Organisations and suppliers are linked by purchasing. Purchasing is the task of obtaining goods and services that are required to product products and services for the customers of the business. Purchasing has to find suppliers, work out contracts and liaise between suppliers and the internal departments of the organisation.
Three of the key decision areas found in supply chain management are:
  •         Location
  •         Production
  •         Distribution

Location is the decision of where the production, inventory and distribution facilities are located. Production and transport decisions are focused on what the customer wants the quantities and the timing. Outsourcing is an option that can be used, especially in distribution.  The main cost in distribution is transportation. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

What are the key issues for today’s business operations? – Part 4

Today we’re looking at the final issue for today’s business operations, managing the supply chain. Supply chain managers are being put under scrutiny as business organisations are being pressured to improve their supply chains. 

Supply chains have historically been overlooked as managers concentrated on internal operations and their immediate suppliers. These days, the supply chain is being focused on as a way of reducing waste, saving costs and improving customer services. Problems that need to be addressed in the supply chain include:
  • Improving operations and quality while reducing wasteful cost out of the systems.
  • Increasing levels of outsourcing that can increase spending relating to packaging, movement, loading and so on. These costs are often unnecessary.
  • Increasing transportation costs.
  • Increase in competitive pressures and meeting the demand for customization, shorter development cycles and production of new products.
  • Increased globalisation is extending the length of supply chains.

Ebusiness has become increasingly important and is a new challenge for businesses.
The importance of well managed inventories as they can mean the success or failure of the supply chain.  Excess inventories increase costs.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

What are the key issues for today’s business operations? – Part 3

Today we’re looking at ethical conduct. Ethical conduct is another of the key issues that is being faced by business operations. Ethical conduct is essential in business. Managers have to think about the decisions they make and how they will affect the employees, customers, community and the management and shareholders of the business, as well as the environment.  It’s not an easy task but it’s something that all managers have to take into consideration during the decision-making process. Sometimes there will be mistakes made and the managers then have to think of the best way to act and deal with the consequences. 

Ethical issues are found in many areas of operations management, such as:
  • The environment and how to run operations that will not harm the environment
  • How closing facilities will impact the community and if it will mean the company fails to see through commitments that were promised
  • Being an important part of the community
  • Honouring warranties
  • Product safety, ensuring products will minimise the risk of injury to people and damage to property or the environment
  • Ensuring the safety of workers by providing training, ensuring equipment is maintained and making the work environment safe
  • Ensuring the financial records are correct and accurate
  • Respecting workers and their rights

The use of Codes of Ethics gives employees a guide to follow. Ethics is the standardised behaviours for certain situations that are considered suitable.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What are the key issues for today’s business operations? – Part 2

Yesterday we took a quick look at the most common key issues in today’s business operations. Today we’re going to direct our attention to one of the other key areas, environmental concerns.  

Environmental concerns have increased in recent years. There are now stricter regulations in place, especially in the more developed nations. Businesses are coming under pressure to take appropriate measures to reduce their impact on the environment and to improve their processes to make them sustainable. Sustainability requires businesses to find processes that will make the best use of resources without causing harm to ecological systems. These sustainability measures go beyond the environment and even economic measures as they work to incorporate social matters in the decision making processes.
The entire business is affected by environmental and sustainable measures. The most affected areas include:
  •         Product and service design
  •         Supply chain waste management
  •         Disaster preparation and response
  •         Outsourcing

Operations management deals with the issues mentioned above. The options or introductions of ‘green initiatives’ may include reducing packaging, reducing water and energy use and so on. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

What are the key issues for today’s business operations? – Part 1

Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key issues found in today’s business operations. Let’s begin with a quick look at the most common problems.

Economic conditions

Many managers have felt reluctant in making investments and hiring employees or rehiring laid off workers due to the long lasting recession.


Innovations are an excellent way of bringing new value into an organisation. They can be used in processes, using the Internet or supply chain and they have many benefits including cost saving, increasing productivity, reaching new markets and improving customer satisfaction.

Quality problems

Operations have to be improved to avoid the common failures that are causing problems. Quality problems can be overcome by making improvements in product design, risk assessment, supplier oversight, product design, response times and testing.

Risk management

Risks come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from product recalls to man-made disasters. Risk management involves identifying the risks and finding ways of reducing or eliminating the risks.

Competing in a global economy

There is pressure to reduce the cost of labour as a result of the low labour costs in third world countries. Companies need to decide if they should outsource some or all of their operations to low wage locations, focus on reducing the costs internally by changing their designs and improving productivity. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Chit Chat: Cloud Computing Trends 2017

Cloud computing continues to push traditional computing models into the 21st century. It’s a force that has disrupted the tech market over the past 10 years and it’s changing the way operations are performed and managed. There are several cloud platforms in place; these include Amazon Web Services, Google, Oracle and Microsoft. These platforms continue to set the pace of private and hosted cloud computing. Here are some of the areas that businesses need to concentrate to benefit from cloud computing:
  • Work on your private cloud strategy
  • Educate yourself on the upcoming developments in security, networking, infrastructure and containers
  • Examine your industry-specific cloud providers

Here are 10 trends to keep an eye on in the year to come.
  1. Providing new ways of saving money to buyers that go way beyond paying as you use
  2. Improving the ease of migration using lift and shift tools
  3. Global cloud evolution will be driven by Chinese firms
  4. Improve security provided by cloud service providers as part of their services
  5. Improved cloud platform and management strategies with containers everywhere
  6. Expensive private cloud software suites will no longer be sought out by businesses
  7. SaaS will move into industry and regional solutions
  8. Making private clouds more feasible and popular with hyper-converged infrastructure
  9. Mega clouds will be expanded upon, meaning they won’t be the only option available to those looking for more space
  10. The weakest area of hybrid cloud will continue to be cloud networking

Friday, 31 March 2017

What are the three kinds of technology operations management is primarily concerned with?

Three types of technology that operations management is mainly concerned with are:
  •         Product and service technology
  •        Process technology
  •        Information technology

Product and service technology

Product and service technology is the discovery and development of new services and products. Researchers or engineers develop new knowledge with scientific approaches that can be converted into applications.

Process technology

Process technology is the procedures and equipment that are used to provide services and product goods for sale. Supply chain processes are included in process technology along with the processes of the organisation.

Information technology

IT is the use of computers and electronic equipment to send, store and process information.  Information technology is deeply ingrained in business operations and is used in a variety of ways, including ecommerce, the internet, point of sale information, tracking goods and so on.