Optimise your supply chain with data and IoT

December 3, 2021

4 min read

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Like many organisations, Telstra's supply chain was impacted by COVID-19, creating urgency in the supply chain conversations held by our senior leadership team.

We asked ourselves: how do we future proof our operations? And how can we do it in a way that improves customer experience, operational efficiency and provide a safe working environment? All while reducing our carbon footprint? It was obvious that technology and data would be central to everything we did. 

Why we're uniquely placed to find answers

At Telstra, we not only rely on supply chain ourselves, we also provide supply chain solutions to our customers. In fact, we've been supporting supply chain and logistics for decades. It's fair to say that few organisations have been supporting Australia’s Supply Chain industry for as long as Telstra has.

Then there's our network heritage. Our core strength has always been our ability to connect people and businesses. We own the best and biggest networks in Australia, including Australia's largest IoT network covering almost 50% of the country.

We're using this base to zero in on key industry trends. At the same time, we're taking a fresh look at the industry and the thousands of customers we've dealt with.

Bringing it all together, we're designing solutions that focus on innovation but leverage what we've already built. These solutions will take advantage of Telstra's connectivity strengths, Telstra Purple's professional services, and new capabilities developed internally and with our technology partners.

Answers to meet business realities

When I was Telstra's supply chain executive, I was often frustrated by the complexity of technology solutions needed to future-proof the business. Moreover, the level of investment and time to value were beyond reasonable. I didn't want to buy the whole Lego set which might improve operations in two or three years. I wanted something that would deliver benefits immediately.

At Telstra, we've applied that approach to our new solutions. We're not aiming to fix the entire list of issues in supply chain. That's too difficult, expensive and lengthy, especially in a constantly changing industry. Instead, we've focused on the challenges that have remained constant.

With this in mind, all of the solutions we're developing revolve around four key principles. They must:

  • Work straight out of the box
  • Be modular and scalable
  • Be digitally native
  • Deliver tangible results from day one.

Crucially, we're looking at supply chain through an industry lens. When we build solutions tailored to each industry, we can address industry-specific issues while delivering the economies of scale and time to value that's impossible with bespoke solutions.

Just as important for our customers, the solutions are modular. They can start with a basic module that delivers immediate value, then build on it over time at their own pace.

A step-by-step plan for the future

We've broken down our thinking into clearly defined horizons on what we can deliver today, tomorrow and the years to come to optimise supply chains.

Horizon One. The focus here is to use our current IoT capabilities with consulting and design support from Telstra Purple. Their experience in security also plays a crucial role since being cyber-fit is more relevant than ever. These capabilities are underpinned by our core network, so our technologies will work across most of the country.

Horizon Two. This moves the focus to probably six to twelve months from today. Working with our technology partners, the aim is to unlock opportunities through data analytics and insights. 

The Telstra Data Hub is a good example. A platform we've co-developed with Microsoft, it enables  customers to share data and insights inside and outside their organisation securely and at scale.

At the same time, we want to challenge thinking on how mobile devices are being used. So we're working with device manufacturers to turn mobile devices into more versatile work tools that can enhance productivity and employee experience, while also adding another layer of data collection to increase insight capabilities. 

Horizon Three. Analytics are the future of supply chain. Using technology that's here right now, we can help you leverage your data management structure and take it to the next level to create actionable insights. 

Here are two examples with massive potential. Digital Twins can build a virtual model of operations to help you see what's happening, identify efficiencies and improve planning. Blockchain can automate and accelerate visibility and proof of products through the supply chain.

Taking the first steps

Never have data and IoT been so relevant. As a first step, we're beginning to have holistic data management conversations with our customers. We start with how they can generate data through telematics and IoT, transfer data through our secure networks, and finally ingest, manage and transform data through our advanced platforms.

Magic happens when you have the right data at the right time, enabling you to drive value at every stage. Telstra has been optimising supply chains for decades, but now we're better placed than ever before to take operations to a new level. It's an exciting time to be in supply chain, both for ourselves and our customers.