Logistics companies around the world faced an uphill battle during the pandemic – but it also accelerated their learning curve for all things digital.

One of the most prominent logistics players in the Asia Pacific region, who leveraged their relationship with Cisco to transform their network during the pandemic, has seen a significant shift in their digital maturity in the last few months.

The executive leaders in the organization truly embraced technology. As a result, not only were they able to keep their business running smoothly but have also transitioned to a hybrid work model. Adapting to this new way of working has created business value and allows the organization to stand out as an employer of choice in this competitive job market where top talent is hard to find & retain.

Pandemic boosts demand and expectations amid new challenges

Globalization and the dependence on e-commerce have forced everyone to rely on logistics companies for even the most basic of necessities. From lithium to ladders and lightbulbs to letters from our mums, logistics companies bring us items from around the world, no matter where they’re made or stored.

It’s easy to see why they’re considered to be providing an ‘essential service’ and why these organizations have a strong need for ‘boots on the ground’ to function. During the pandemic, logistics companies were hit hard. Operations were challenged by lockdowns and managers needed to take care of their employees’ health & safety – all while catering to a rise in demand as fewer people could step out of their houses.

During this time, Cisco’s client – who had already chalked out a plan to transform its technology infrastructure – decided to accelerate its investments as it had to enable more than 10,000 employees to work remotely in under 48 hours.

Collaboration tools became the lifeblood of the organization and helped employees communicate with each other effectively, no matter where they worked from. Their effort to upgrade their network with SD-WAN and Wi-Fi also paid off, allowing the company to offer high-speed connections to employees at all distribution centers, kiosks, and offices which led to better digital experiences across touchpoints.

The company’s investments in transforming its network have been so transformative that it is now planning to turbocharge its operations with internet of things (IoT)-powered solutions such as smart cameras, sensor-powered lighting, and even RFID-powered distribution-center management solutions. With the right technology backbone, the sky is the limit for this organization.

Having embraced remote work, the organization also offers its employees the flexibility to use their own devices when needed. Thanks to Cisco’s solutions, all connections to the company’s network are secure and even follow the cutting-edge zero trust framework, giving employees the confidence to collaborate with colleagues from anywhere, using any network and device.

Although the organization’s collaboration use case in the initial days were simple, it’s interesting to see that they’ve integrated Cisco’s Webex collaboration tools into various solutions to create a centralized communications platform with calling, messaging, video conferencing, and several other capabilities. A version of this platform, powered by Cisco, also supports its contact center with tens of thousands of devices servicing hundreds of thousands of customer inquiries every month.

In the future, the logistics leader is looking to deploy bots to make routine internal and external communications seamless; when an employee wants to reset a password or book a room, for example, it can be done automatically without connecting to an actual IT professional or facilities administrator. Similarly, clients of the logistics company can get things done though these bots without having to wait to be connected to a tele-support executive.

When you put all of this in perspective, technology has truly revolutionized the customer’s operations and enabled it to be ‘future-ready’.

Reimagining workspaces to prepare for hybrid work  

Having completed its network transformation, the logistics giant is making an effort to reimagine its workspaces – with a complete overhaul of its headquarters on the books.

Aside from investing in technology to make the experience of everyone returning to the office, in any capacity, more exciting, the organization is trying to think what hybrid work really means and how workspaces can meet the demands and expectations of employees.

Every team have the flexibility to choose when they return to the office, for what duration, and why. In most cases, there’s a positive response to in-person meetings when they’re scheduled to help come up with new ideas or bring them to life, review a project, or share critical feedback. Of course, the reality is that not all members of the team can attend in-person, and managers and executive leaders need to be prepared for it, not just from a technology perspective but also from an organizational culture standpoint.

Cisco’s Webex devices, Meraki cameras, and more, all play together to deliver a touchless experience to anyone who visits the office with valid identification, allowing them to walk into any one of their 400 conference rooms in 50 locations, to log into a meeting ‘hands free’, and to collaborate freely.

While the aim is to provide better in-person experiences, the organization is experimenting with how it defines ‘hybrid work’. The organization believes that a fine balance must be struck in order to retain employees and attract talent in the market. In the coming months, those that deliver great hybrid solutions will win big – not just from a business value perspective but also from a talent perspective.