August 31, 2023

Open platforms hold key to supply chain optimization


Companies across virtually all industries have focused on supply chain optimization in recent years. Often, improving supply chains is the key to achieving broader goals like reducing operating costs, maximizing operational efficiency, improving inventory management and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Supply chains are composed of numerous separate but interconnected moving pieces. To make the entire process more efficient, businesses need to be able to assess and manage each piece simultaneously. Technology is a crucial component of doing just that.

“If the very nature of supply chains requires interoperability, it stands to reason then that the technology used to improve supply chain efficiency must follow the same approach,” says project44 Senior Director of Product Marketing Eric Fullerton.

Open supply chain visibility platforms enable that interoperability by creating an environment where companies can easily connect multiple third-party solutions to their existing tech stacks, often via API integration. With this flexibility, they can customize their workflows and extend the platform functionalities to create the tech solution most suited to their business needs.

Despite the growing importance of interoperability in supply chains, there are more technology companies marketing closed platforms than ever before. This approach is attractive to vendors because it makes users more dependent on their services, locking in that customer — and that revenue — for years to come.

Relying on a single vendor with a closed platform can also be appealing for users, at least on the surface. Many customers are enamored with the idea of having a “one-stop shop” to meet all their needs.

“The ​‘one-throat-to-choke’ model can be appealing in a fragmented and often confusing logistics tech landscape, but the dangers of this approach are very real,” says Fullerton.

Depending on a single vendor to meet all their needs puts companies in a precarious position at best. While this can seem like a safe strategy when everything is going well, it creates a short pathway to failure when things go wrong.

When a company relies on a single closed platform, the company is inordinately affected by the vendor’s circumstances — ranging from service disruptions to bankruptcies.

Some of the other risks that accompany closed platforms include limited customization options, data security concerns and critically, higher overall costs. In recent years, closed platforms have developed a habit of luring customers into contracts with highly attractive but severely discounted pricing, only to spike costs based on usage, discounted rates “expiring” or a miscalculation of their own costs. All of these factors lead to decreased supply chain resiliency, putting companies at risk in today’s swift-moving market.

Open platforms, on the other hand, come with a long list of perks that contribute to better supply chain resiliency.

Open platforms can lead to:

  • Collaboration and data sharing.
  • Lower cost of ownership.
  • More efficient carrier selection.
  • Inventory management benefits.
  • Increased operational efficiency.
  • Automation and optimization options.
  • Improved customer experiences.

Open platforms — like those championed by project44 — are designed to support flexibility and collaboration. They are also expandable by nature, allowing users to capture the benefits of their existing technologies, as well as an endless number of new solutions via simple API integrations.

“Project44’s open API approach empowers businesses to create a more resilient supply chain, lower costs and increase operational efficiency,” adds Fullerton. “Embracing project44’s open API approach is a strategic step towards achieving a competitive edge in today’s dynamic business landscape.”

Project44’s entire business model was built around creating open platforms via API integrations. In fact, p44 was an API-only company during its first five years of existence. Only then did the company introduce its innovative user experience, Movement.

The introduction of Movement has not taken away from p44’s dedication to open platforms and API integrations. If anything, that dedication has only expanded.

“All new products that we deliver are available in the Movement UI or via our Movement APIs,” Fullerton shared. “We believe in giving our customers choice — the freedom to operate in the way that makes the most sense for their business and allowing our technology platform to enhance and improve their operations rather than outright change them.”

Click here to learn more about p44’s open API approach.


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