- Please tell us about Safexpress’s cloud migration journey from the beginning till today.
It was in 2017 when we at Safexpress decided to transform the organization completely. We framed a transformation roadmap post deeply understanding the industry landscape and that was the need of the hour. We were clear from the beginning that we will be one of the big Fortune 500 companies. In those days we were on-premises applications and there was an in-house ERP that was running on Oracle ADF. To start with, Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, and Security were the five focus areas that were part of our digital transformation strategy but as we progressed, we decided to become a cloud-native company in the next four to five years.
Our very first cloud initiative was when we moved to Oracle Fusion Applications that are built on Oracle Cloud to launch GST in India in July 2017. We were extremely uncertain at that time since it was new for Oracle as well but with our association, the project went beyond well and kickstarted our journey towards Cloud migration.
Gradually after that, we started looking at the other pieces and started migrating all other applications such as employee platforms or portals to the cloud. Some two and a half years back, soon after our internal teams were skilled enough, we decided to move our ERP to the cloud to build a cloud-native kind of architecture.
2. How many and which applications are currently running on the cloud?
At present, over 90% of our applications – be it public or private, are mostly public is running on the Cloud. Meanwhile, 70% of our ERP applications have also been moved to Cloud. Oracle is one of our prime partners and we have built integrations with them to run our applications on Oracle Warehouse Management Software (WMS). We were impressed with Oracle’s WMS capability and immediately decided that we would want to be on this platform because it gave us the flexibility to onboard our customers very fast. Obviously, we’ve had our shares of ups and downs, whether with the product or with the platform but overall Oracle WMS indeed gives us the flexibility to override the platform by writing custom code on Oracle PaaS. In a nutshell, our objective is that we technically become a cloud-native by end of this year since all our applications are now running on the cloud.
3. What are the benefits that you see post-moving all your applications to the OTM Cloud and ERP on Cloud?
By now we have realized that there have been myriad benefits of moving to the Cloud. Agility is one of the topmost benefits which made us undergo business transitions much faster. For example, there is a lot of back and forth to manage loads during the month of March during to FY closing. However, with Cloud, it becomes extremely smooth where we can provision hardware, whether it is compute or storage or memory, and could easily configure it in a way that scales up as the workloads increase. In case of lower workloads, it scales on specific days or the order period of the day, as well. Typically, our loads are very high related to transshipment, usually in the early morning hours, that’s when trucks start moving out and start doing the entire process. With the help of Cloud, we enable to tailor configure it and control it completely without, any load scaling getting impacted which used to get earlier when things would work slow. This led to complains across India and the responses were slow. Additionally, we were able focus on business, rather than entire maintenance and upgrades which used to consume at least two to three months. The whole team is just kind of working on the software upgrades, testing them, retesting them, doing UAT and further moving into Dev-UAT then finally production or pre-prods. These all-pesky steps are now covered with the help of Cloud and the team has enough bandwidth and more productive at work. Faster onboarding was another key benefit, and we are now able to onboard our customers much faster, specifically on the WMS software side now as compared to the earlier ERP that we were running. Last but not the least is better stability and enhanced overall performance.
4. How has the deployment of Oracle Transport Management System helped you in achieving your business goals?
As mentioned above the Cloud has brought a significant and quite transformational change to our business, through Oracle’s WMS and TMS solutions. By deploying Oracle Transport Management System, we saw several efficiency gains. Firstly, we moved all the previous practices like WMS operations including inventory management and inventory counting, all related to input and output movement. A lot of it was paper-based or was done on the system, we definitely got rid of that traditional practice. Apart from this, we spent a lot of time to train and skill our employees to work on a mobile app which was not that intuitive. Usually, the churn in our industry is very high, especially at a lower level, so it was not the case that employees you train will be working with you for a long time thus it was not a fruitful investment at all. But Oracle WMS which was a Cloud product helped a lot to manage that and all the hardware hurdles also we were facing earlier.
The other important game that we got was moving the entire WMS operations to a handheld. We invested in the process of automated systems and the app that came along with the Oracle WMS we were able to configure, and tailor made. Most of the times it was done by our customers, however, it became more efficient. The pickup or the entire inventory management and packaging of the goods became faster than before.
5. What are Safexpress’s future plans in this space now?
We are doing a lot of work by investing in Big Data and a lot of computer vision-based Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that we’re working on. Some of them are live presently and some of them are going to go live very shortly. At Safexpress, there’s a whole team as part of the AI and Machine Learning team, a complete innovation vertical within the technology division of Safexpress that caters to the group companies. Within that, we are certainly working with some important and very interesting innovation and use cases. For example, we are the only brand in India today that could do an Edge Computer Vision Model without internet and handheld. Our Machine Learning model is so advanced that it can figure out whether a signature or a stamp is present or not, as a proof of delivery to our customer, and imagine every company stamp is different.
This kind of technology-based offerings gives us a competitive edge, and probably a lot of other players are not even thinking. To make this happen, businesses require a high level of maturity in technology, which a lot of our peers have probably not reached yet as all these good things start to happen once businesses have the base architecture in place. As I stated above, that at present our prime objective is to become a cloud-native by end of this year.