APL Logistics CIO Hakan Yaren had big challenges cut out for him when he joined the global supply-chain logistics provider in 2019. The Singapore-headquartered company had previously introduced one of the industry\u2019s first web-based ordering and shipment-tracking systems, but wanted to continue its technology innovation across its automotive, consumer, industrial, and retail markets.\nYaren\u2019s challenge was\u2014and remains\u2014to modernise the technology platforms while also simplifying them, despite the complex problems they address.\n[ Be sure to learn the secrets of highly effective digital transformations\u2014and beware the 7 myths of digital transformation. | Get the latest on digital transformation by signing up for our CIO newsletters. ]\n APL Logistics\n\nHakan Yaren, CIO, APL Logistics\n\n\nTake order management as an example. At its most basic level, order management is the organisation of purchase orders to identify cost and efficiency gains. However, with the cascade of data available through modern technology, order management has evolved into one of the most complex aspects of the global supply chain.\nInternally, one of the biggest handicaps APL Logistics\u00a0faced was that the mix of modern systems and legacy platforms was hugely problematic. To fix this, the company needed an architectural approach steeped in business capability. Yaren\u2019s team also had to assess its own technical capabilities and bring in expertise from technology partners where needed.\n\u201cWhat we did not want to do was for the IT department to go undercover, do our tech thing then come back and declare success,\u201d he told CIO ASEAN. \u201cInstead, we focused on adding value throughout the modernisation, so it\u2019s not seen as a \u2018technology initiative\u2019. One of the best ways to do this was to engage the business partners from the beginning and tie the technology initiatives to the organisation\u2019s strategic objectives.\u201d\nYaren expects his company to continue focussing on digital transformation initiatives to eliminate friction in the customer experience journey, provide better employee experiences within the hybrid working environment, modernise their legacy platforms, and strengthen their security posture. \u201cWe have a great partnership with our business stakeholders, and leveraging technology to help solve these complex problems collaboratively is what makes our jobs exciting and fulfilling,\u201d he said.\nAlthough that journey is ongoing, Yaren\u2019s IT team has already delivered several key initiatives for digital transformation around being data-driven, adopting virtual collaboration, and adopting agile methodology.\nMaking APL Logistics data-driven\nThe supply-chain industry is constantly evolving how it sees and interacts with data. To stay competitive, the ability to capture and use the data to help their customers is imperative. That\u2019s why the APL Logistics IT team focused on five key areas:\n\ncybersecurity resilience\ncloud transformation\ninnovative logistics technology\ndigital customer experience\ndata and integration capabilities\n\n\u201cAs a logistics service provider, our key value-add is our ability to work and integrate well with other supply chain partners, including other 3PLs [third-party logistics providers], carriers, suppliers, and customers,\u201d Yaren said. \u201cUsing next-generation tech platforms offers us the ability to achieve this in a much more effective manner.\u201d So APL Logistics moved more of their resources to build new capabilities that would be helpful for their customers.\nData management is one of the areas where APL Logistics has heavily invested in. Customers want and need visibility into their supply chain at any given point of time, and they need the data to be timely, of high quality, and high accuracy. In view of this, APL Logistics started a data lake initiative to bring these capabilities at a scale, using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). The data lake \u201chelps us get that reach across the globe and consolidate all these complex data points into one source of truth where we can analyse and dive deep into the insights while also honing in on micro-issues that could be causing downstream effects in the ecosystem,\u201d Yaren said.\nGoing virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic\nYaren had joined APL Logistics at the end of 2019 and within six months of his joining, COVID-19 had gripped the world. \u201cAdjusting to those challenges, working remotely, and the ability to support our operations and customers in this tumultuous environment have been quite challenging,\u201d he said.\nYaren\u2019s team had just kicked off their digital agenda and didn\u2019t want to pause because of the pandemic. \u201cAt that time, we had also started our transition to Office 365, which turned out to be very timely for us,\u201d he said. \u201cLeveraging collaboration capabilities with Microsoft Teams was instrumental for us to be able to execute projects effectively. As our teams were already used to working across time zones and regions, and our architecture and engineering resources are primarily based in Singapore and the United States, adapting to the virtual environment has not been a significant challenge.\u201d\nAdopting agile methods\nYaren\u2019s team also changed how they approached projects. \u201cWe took this opportunity to lean into adopting agile methodology across the organisation heavily,\u201d he said. \u201cIn the traditional sense, these initiatives would have taken us 12 to 18 months to deliver, which was not feasible anymore. Hence, we broke these into minimum-viable-product deliverables and provided valuable outcomes to our stakeholders within three to six months.\u201d\nThey used various technologies and service providers to achieve their goals with the agile methodology. The fruits of these initiatives are reaching the customers now. \u201cAs many people have realised over the last 18 months, the supply chain and logistics processes make the world go around. We are very proud to be a partner in this complex ecosystem,\u201d Yaren said.