At the end of September, I participated FourKites Visibility 2022 in Chicago, IL. As the tagline said, I was there to learn, connect, and be inspired. Those are definitely three things that happened. I also had the chance to moderate a panel that explored a partnership approach to supply chain optimization. In this panel, I spoke with Johnny Ivanyi, Global Director of Distribution Excellence at Bayer Crop Sciences and Julie Tokars, logistics planner at Nestle United States. In this panel, we explored how each of these companies determined they needed a visibility solution, how they maintain good relationships with their partners, and how their technology stack has evolved over the past few years.
I was also able to sit down and chat more with Johnny Ivanyi from Bayer, and dig a little deeper into the company’s visibility journey as well as its digital transformation journey. For a bit of background, Bayer Crop Science offers products in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, and seed and plant biotechnology. In addition to conventional agrochemical activities, it is involved in the genetic engineering of food. In 2002, Bayer AG acquired Aventis (now part of Sanofi) Crop Science and merged it with its own agrochemical division to form Bayer Crop Science. In 2016, as part of the restructuring of the wholesale business, Bayer Crop Science became one of the three main divisions of Bayer AG. Bayer Crop Science’s world headquarters is located in St. Louis, MO.
As visibility became more important globally, more and more companies realized they needed to integrate the solution into their overall supply chain ecosystem. Bayer Crop Science is no different. When I asked Johnny when the Bayer journey started, he explained to me that it started in 2018 in Mexico. Initially, this was part of a larger go-to-market strategy, as the company realized it had a problem 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 generally a best practice. The Net Promoter Score is correlated to revenue growth and calculated based on the answer to a single question: How likely are you to recommend this business, product or service to a colleague or friend? When a company’s Net Promoter Score drops, the company typically begins a process to find out why the score dropped and then tries to fix the problem. And that’s what Bayer did, by implementing the FourKites visibility solution.
Before using FourKites, the company used any method of visibility possible. Usually, this meant providing “visibility” to customers that was far from real-time. Although Bayer Crop Science had a TMS they were happy with, it covered all of the company’s transportation needs. The company was able to track shipments on the road, but had little visibility into air and sea 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 for Bayer to improve its Net Promoter Score. In a short time, Johnny said Bayer Crop Science saw significant improvements that positively impacted the customer experience. Although he was unable to share specific results, he said Bayer Crop Science has significantly improved delivery times. This varied by region, but given the different markets the company works in, it’s not surprising. Johnny also said his cost per container performance has improved and customer satisfaction has improved. This is all down to the global rollout of the solution, and the further the rollout progresses, the better the results.
One of the biggest questions that always arises for a deployment is whether it stayed on time and on budget. Johnny said that for the most part the implementations were both on time and on budget. Implementation times varied from country to country, depending on the level of sophistication. For example, the Philippines could have been 2 months while France took over 4 months. Part of that also falls on partner relationships. Partners should be open to sharing data for better visibility.
Supply chain visibility is only part of the supply chain journey for businesses. I spoke with Johnny a bit about Bayer Crop Science’s overall digital transformation. The company therefore seeks to build a smart center for all digital transformation initiatives. This includes the use of digital twins, combining customer service and logistics into a single view for planners, and how the business can make decisions based on analysis rather than individual thinking. While the company is still mapping its digital transformation journey, it has reduced the aspect of supply chain visibility. And that can only lead to