At the end of September, I attended FourKites Visibility 2022 in Chicago, IL. As the tagline said, I was there to learn, connect, and be inspired. Those were certainly three things that happened. I was also fortunate to moderate a panel that explored a partnership approach to supply chain optimization. In that panel, I spoke with Johnny Ivanyi, Global Director of Distribution Excellence at Bayer Crop Science and Julie Tokars, Logistics Planner at Nestle USA. In this panel, we explored how each of these companies determined they needed a visibility solution, how they maintain good partner relationships, and how their technology stack has evolved over the last few years.
I was also able to sit down and chat more with Johnny Ivanyi from Bayer, and dig a little bit deeper into the company’s visibility journey as well as greater digital transformation journey. For a little bit of background, Bayer Crop Science has products in crop protection, nonagricultural pest control, and seeds and plant biotechnology. In addition to conventional agrochemical business, it is involved in genetic engineering of food. In 2002, Bayer AG acquired Aventis (now part of Sanofi) Crop Science and fused it with their own agrochemicals division to form Bayer Crop Science. In 2016, as part of the wholesale corporate restructuring, Bayer Crop Science became one of the three major divisions of Bayer AG. The global headquarters of Bayer Crop Science is located in St. Louis, MO.
As visibility has become more important globally, more and more companies have realized they need to incorporate the solution into their overall supply chain ecosystem. Bayer Crop Science is no different. When I asked Johnny when the Bayer journey began, he explained that it started in 2018 in Mexico. Initially it was part of a larger go-to-market strategy as the company realized it had an issue with its Net Promoter Score (NPS) and understanding the voice of the customer.
When it comes to measuring customer loyalty, the Net Promoter Score survey is typically a best practice. Net promoter score is correlated with revenue growth and calculated based on a response to a single question: how likely are you to recommend this company, product, or service to a colleague or friend? When a company’s net promoter score falls, usually the company will begin a process of discovering why the score has fallen, and then try to fix the problem. And this is what Bayer did, by implementing the FourKites visibility solution.
Prior to using FourKites, the company was using whatever method of providing visibility that it could. Usually this meant providing “visibility” to customers that was nowhere close to real-time. While Bayer Crop Science had a TMS that it was satisfied with, it did not span the full footprint of the company’s transportation needs. The company was able to track shipments over the road, but had little visibility into air and ocean shipments.
In 2018, Bayer Crop Science implemented the FourKites visibility solution to try to improve customer satisfaction, as well as give more accurate ETAs. This information was crucial to Bayer for improving its Net Promoter Score. Within a short period of time, Johnny said that Bayer Crop Science had seen significant improvements that were having a positive impact on the customer experience. While he was unable to share specific results, he did say that Bayer Crop Science had improved its on time delivery significantly. This varied by region, but given the different markets the company works in, this is not surprising. Johnny also said that its cost performance by the container has improved, and customer satisfaction has improved. This is all due to the global rollout of the solution, and the further along in the deployment, the better the results have been.
One of the biggest questions that always comes up for a deployment is whether it stayed on time and on budget. Johnny said that for the most part, the implementations stayed both on time and on budget. Implementation timeframes varied by the country, depending on the level of sophistication. For example, the Philipines might have been 2 months while France took over 4 months. Part of this falls to partner relationships as well. Partners need to be open to data sharing for improved visibility.
Supply Chain Visibility is only one part of the supply chain journey for companies. I spoke with Johnny a little bit about the overall digital transformation for Bayer Crop Science. The company so looking to build a smart center for all digital transformation initiatives. This includes the use of digital twins, the combination of customer service and logistics in one view for planners, and how the company can make decisions based on analytics rather than on individual thinking. While the company is still mapping its digital transformation journey, it has the supply chain visibility aspect down. And that can only lead to better decision making, and happier customers.