Mela Ventures Investment Thesis

Visibility vs. Tracking – Defining the Difference – Point of View

Prachi Malpani

Prachi Malpani

Visibility vs. Tracking – Defining the Difference – Point of View

Visibility vs. Tracking – Defining the Difference – Point of View

Recently, I participated in a webinar hosted by Project44, a US-based organization in the supply chain visibility realm. The webinar, titled “Visibility vs. Tracking – Defining the Difference,” delved into a captivating subject. At Mela Ventures, we are proud investors in Intugine, a company pioneering in multi-modal supply chain visibility. Intugine shows promise to be the category leader for India and emerging markets in the supply chain visibility sector.

In our collaboration with Intugine, we’ve come to recognize the challenge customers face in distinguishing between visibility and tracking. Here are a few key points emphasizing how visibility enhances value within the supply chain:

Enterprises typically rely on disparate sources of information for tracking. These include:

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Data: This data, sourced from freight forwarders, provides retrospective insights into past events. However, it tends to be of subpar quality and challenging to consolidate in a fragmented market.
  • GPS Data: While offering real-time location information, the GPS vendor market’s fragmentation complicates integration efforts. Supply chain visibility leaders like Intugine and Project44 have established integrations across multiple providers, streamlining access to fleet data.
  • Transport Management System (TMS) Solutions: While TMS solutions offer track and trace capabilities, their scalability is limited due to a lack of integration capabilities. TMS vendors often partner with visibility players to augment their offerings.
  • Freight Forwarders Data: Freight forwarders require this data for service provision but face challenges in consolidating information due to industry fragmentation. Collaboration among freight forwarders is hindered, hampering the establishment of a unified network.

However, these sources provide only fragmented views of the supply chain, lacking forward-looking insights necessary for proactive decision-making. Visibility goes beyond mere tracking by addressing complex questions such as:

  • When will my shipment arrive?
  • What is on that shipment?
  • Is the shipment running late? Does any action need to be taken?
  • If the shipment is running late, what customers are getting impacted?
  • Is the Panama Canal/Baltimore bridge collapse impacting the shipment?

This comprehensive view, facilitated by “Transportation Visibility,” involves data cleansing, normalization, and integration with machine learning algorithms to provide actionable insights across different modes of transport and carriers.

Going one level ahead is “Order Visibility,” which complements transportation visibility by offering real-time location information tied to relevant Purchase Orders. This enables granular insights into inventory in transit and facilitates proactive management of potential delays.

Enterprises grapple with several challenges in supply chain management, including visibility gaps across carriers, manual tracking processes, and the inability to identify and address surprise exceptions. This results in increased costs and decreased operational efficiency.

Expectations from a robust Visibility platform include:

  • Extensive coverage across networks, modes, nodes, and geographies.
  • Seamless integration with various systems such as telematics, TMS, WMS, ERPs, CRMs, bolstered by data science capabilities.
  • Predictive and accurate Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs) across multimodal journeys
  • Flexible interfaces offering real-time and historical insights, advanced exception management, and collaboration tools.
  • Pre- and post-transit functionalities, aiding in shipment planning, facility automation, and sustainability efforts.

In essence, a visibility platform should provide real-time inventory visibility, early exception detection, cost reduction, and improved carrier performance through data-driven insights.

Customers derive significant value from visibility platforms. For example, an alcoholic beverage producer utilized the platform to identify risks and delays, initiating investigations based on predictive ETAs and challenging carriers with data-driven evidence. Similarly, a global beverage company leveraged predictive ETAs during challenging times to prioritize urgent Purchase Orders and optimize inventory planning. An auto component manufacturer used visibility platforms to proactively forecast their supply, enabling them to predict and plan for stockouts and prioritize orders effectively.

In summary, if you’re relying solely on tracking, you’re merely scratching the surface of supply chain optimization. Investing in solutions like Intugine can revolutionize supply chain management for manufacturing industries, making complex supply chains predictable and providing advanced insights. By leveraging Intugine’s multi-modal supply chain visibility platform, manufacturing companies can gain a comprehensive view of their supply chain, from real-time location information to predictive ETAs, enabling proactive decision-making and efficient management of inventory and delays. Embracing such innovative solutions is essential for staying competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.