Optimising The Supply Chain For Global Uncertainty

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

In a recent interview on supply chain management, Dr Bo Zhou, founder and CEO of FuturMaster, discusses the company’s plans for 2017, its growth strategy, and the global economic and technological developments that will impact its business in the years ahead. By Joanna Yuan, marketing manager, APAC, FuturMaster

With a mixed global economic outlook, companies are searching for growth opportunities and ways to boost their profits amidst rising uncertainty. One avenue being explored to improve their bottom line is to focus efforts on optimising business processes and methods targeted at improving supply chain efficiency.

With advancements in machine learning and efforts to optimise and streamline business processes gaining ground, companies such as FuturMaster are in an ideal position to capitalise on such trends.

A vendor of Advanced Planning supply chain solutions, FuturMaster enables its customers to sustainably improve their supply chain performance through optimisation and best practice.


What Are Your Plans For 2017?


As the only company with an Asian CEO and founder among the 21 providers listed in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record, FuturMaster possesses indepth insights into the unique challenges in the Asia Market.

In 2015, I started a 2020 transformation plan to grow the business in response to market changes and to position ourselves for future success that will lead us to double the company’s revenue over the next five years.

To achieve this we will focus our attention on what we call the three levers of growth:


01 New Technology And Software Offerings

As part of our 2020 transformation plan, FuturMaster invests a lot in machine learning technology and other advanced analytics in the Supply Chain Planning solutions. Our future software offerings will integrate machine learning combined with optimisation to increase the effectiveness of promotion management.

Traditional demand forecasts are based on time-series forecasting methods that can only use a handful of demand factors (e.g. trend, seasonality, and cycle). With integrated machine learning-based forecasts, it combines learning algorithms with big data and cloud computing to analyse thousands of promotional activities.

We can also simulate the promotional impacts (uplift, cost, margins, Return-On-Investment (ROI), retailer margin, capacity, etc.) and find the optimised best-fit promotions among all the planned promotions in order to help our customers achieve their business targets.


02 International Development

Over the past two decades, the FuturMaster family has expanded and is growing rapidly. FuturMaster has a global presence with its headquarters and Research & Development (R&D) in France, another R&D office in China, and offices around the world—Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore, Brazil, China (Beijing and Shanghai), United Kingdom—and we are also expanding into the US.


03 Expansion In The Manufacturing & Ecommerce Sectors


FuturMaster provides supply chain solutions in over 65 countries, which has more than 10,000 users, for over 500 customers worldwide in the Aerospace, Bank, Cosmetics, Distribution, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Food & Beverage manufacturing, Healthcare, other manufacturing sectors, Pharmaceutical, Retail, Service, Telecom, and many other industries. We are expanding and investing more in the other manufacturing sectors such as discrete manufacturing.

Ecommerce is already big in Asia, and it only has room to grow. As the market becomes increasingly competitive, it’s only natural that our customers in the Ecommerce industry start looking for new ways to drive revenues and cut costs. We have more Ecommerce businesses approaching FuturMaster to manage their supply chain.


Would You Consider The Southeast Asian Market To Be Your Fastest Growing Market?


I would say there is strong growth in this market, especially with the rise of Asia as the new economic powerhouse, so organisations are looking towards the region to expand their business.

However, global businesses are dealing with many layers of distribution and in some countries, the situation is making it difficult for businesses to cope and fully deliver their goals. For most companies the potential is clear; the challenge is how to address it.

That’s where FuturMaster comes in. Our value proposition is to help our customers increase their top line and improve their bottom line by optimising business processes and methods targeted at improving supply chain effectiveness and efficiency, increasing the service level, and reducing the costs.

FuturMaster continues to be selected and implemented by more Southeast Asian companies in the recent years.


What Type Of Company Size Does Futurmaster Cater To?


FuturMaster’s solution is tailored to customers’ needs through software configuration, instead of secondary development. The configurations can be adjusted based on changes in the market environment and the customer’s maturity level.

It is still possible for us to work with a smaller company, but one with rapid growth. For instance, we recently partnered with a Chinese Ecommerce business in 2016. This company had an annual revenue of US$150 million but was growing at 40 percent per year.

We also see a lot of family businesses in Asia with rapid growth. When a company grows fast, they have limited options and facilities to deal with that growth. This is where FuturMaster can help.


Many Companies Are Looking To Optimise Their Processes And Leverage More On Data. They Want To Save Costs And Increase Efficiency. How Do You Use This Data And How Can You Help These Companies Achieve Their Goals?


We live in a world increasingly driven by data; organisations today have more data than ever compared to past years at their disposal. FuturMaster helps our customers derive meaningful insights from all the data, providing businesses with greater insight and converting these data into knowledge. We help customers navigate through the complexity of the data.

One such customer, a number one whisky producer in one of the Southeast Asian countries, needed to be able to detect real-life constraints in the supply chain and quickly manage those constraints using automated processes, governed by business rules. They approached us to help them better understand how the data within their supply chain can be used effectively to drive a more efficient and effective process.

FuturMaster established key performance indicators (KPIs), such as forecast accuracy, the service level, inventory and actual production conformity with planned order.

With the KPI dashboards and timely reports, FuturMaster’s solution enabled the top management and supply chain managers to continually monitor and measure these KPIs to generate detailed plans and adjust accordingly in order to enhance business processes into the future. This has thus allowed better control and reduced risks over supply chain processes after implementing FuturMaster’s solution.


Is The Analytics Done Locally?

Yes, it is done locally. Customers today need to deal with a lot more data to ensure that all stakeholders have the right information when and where they are needed. Though the industry’s move to cloud computing is still in its youth, effective Business-To-Business (B2B) collaboration is essential and this is where Software as a Service (SaaS) based solutions can deliver real benefits.

Some of our customers are on our SaaS model and increasingly, we see more wanting to come on board. We feel we are moving in the right direction but it will take time for the Asia market to fully embrace this.