Digitization has become an integral part of every business. Gravity Supply Chain is a company that is empowering its clients to undertake this digitization process in their own innovative way. In this interview with the CEO Graham Parker, let’s find out more about the company.
- Tell us about the company.
Gravity is a cloud-based real-time digital supply chain visibility and execution platform, built by supply chain professionals for the supply chain industry. Established in Jan 2015, Gravity has quickly become one of the most recognized and best in class digital supply chain platforms in the market. Gravity enables clients to undertake the digitization process, creating a value chain proposition for all users.
- What were the initial challenges you faced?
One of the biggest challenges and hurdles, and these are still here today, is acceptance from the top down to digitize the supply chain. The speed of change is still far too slow, given the relative costs for real-time visibility, traceability, and ultimately accountability for each critical path stage. Every stakeholder has a completely holistic view and one version of the truth by connecting each vendor, provider, and touchpoint. It seems criminal in this day and age not to want complete insight to everything happening to plan or otherwise in your supply chain. Smarter and accurate decisions are taken with complete transparency. In this day and age, your customer will not forgive you for not delivering on time in full, so why run the risk of failure?
- Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
Entry to market with a mature and fit for purpose suite of modular apps was they key point, ultimately we know what we know, but we are not naive enough to think we know everything. We have a live interactive roadmap, controlled by our users, and driven by them for the new development. This ensures we are only building what the market and users need, keeping it fresh and relevant. Yes, we have a solid roadmap and vision, but ultimately we are only as good as the market needs. One thing we are also very aware of is the impact of COVID-19 has had globally. It was and still is, a significant wakeup call to most businesses globally. Essentially being blind in your supply chain and critical business processes is not acceptable. The pace of change has increased; however, many are still deliberating on how, when, or why?
Gravity is a cloud-based real-time digital supply chain visibility and execution platform, built by supply chain professionals for the supply chain industry.
- What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
I think the people and our approach drive success. We are supply chain people, and build everything from a user-first approach. This resonates well with our clients. They are never more than three clicks away from the lowest level of information. Furthermore, when they open their dashboards, everything presented in front of them is clear, simple to understand, and accurate. On top of this, we will only build what is necessary and useful and what we know. I often see platforms and companies trying to develop into areas that are not relevant or understood. Another critical aspect is we are not experts in everything, and therefore should not try to build everything or connect in as many places as we would like to. In these instances, we work with experts in these fields and create an ecosystem of data providers to ensure everything delivered through the Gravity platform is up to date and relevant to the clients’ requirements.
Many of our clients are digitizing for the first time. One of our core beliefs is Gravity is a transitional platform, ensuring our clients can gradually start to use and begin to trust the data, scenarios, and the outputs presented to them and build up their confidence. Digitizing is about trusting the data presented and actioning accordingly. This is a mindset and culture change, with the ultimate goal of delivering an agile and consumer-centric outward-facing business model enabling scale and success. Gravity is an enabler to the digital journey required to succeed and deliver customer success.
- What are the products/services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
We have three core product elements delivered through four key areas. First, a track and trace module called Shipment Tracker, this tracks at a consolidated shipment view at hawb/mawb/BOL/Shipment level. We have a “lite” version of this also, which can be enjoyed without integrating at the beginning with a client’s TMS/ERP. Next, our Purchase Order Management (POM) Suite of modular apps starts with a PO being raised, and every key milestone to distribution centers anywhere in the world. POM tracks down to the lowest common denominator, such as SKU. I hate the phrase “control tower,” but in essence, POM is your control tower approach to managing your supply chain.
Thirdly is our “source” product. Source is everything that happens before a purchase order is raised, such as range planning, product catalog, sample management, QA/QC, vendor profile and functionality, landed cost model, etc. Source can be purchased independently or integrate seamlessly with POM. One of our biggest compliments outside of the data we provide is the UX. Our users are always very complimentary in the experience, the visuals, and ease of using the platform. This again comes down to us as a business, simple and easy, you literally can log on an instantly see everything in one place and understand exactly what you as a user needs to do.
- How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
We have a solid vision document, and this we have all signed off on. However, it’s the continued user interactive roadmap that will drive us into the ultimate solution and suite of products and services. We are a listening company. Sure we have ideas and a lot of good ideas too. However, continued success will always be delivered by listening and providing solutions people absolutely need. We are forever upgrading and adding new features that have been voted on by the user community. The second we stop listening, we will likely become obsolete after a while—your only as good as the users’ experience.
- Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?
We are on the verge of having a selection of supply chain financing options available for our clients, either as shippers/manufacturers or indeed Logistics Providers on behalf of their clients. This, alongside Marine insurance, suitable applicants will be able to click on our supply Chain finance module, and this will take you through to a selection of financing options. Gravity is not the financier. We are the funnel to these financiers. We are bringing nontraditional bank financing options to our community of users. Suppose you look at the current state of the world. In that case, traditional bank lending is not going to cut it for many businesses. Money is becoming harder to obtain, and the risk appetite, particularly with the banks, is far too stringent. We are working with financiers with a different approach and appetite to risk, and this should deliver an already beneficial coverage to more, regardless of size or industry.
- What do you think are the responsibilities of an entrepreneur?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t actually consider myself an entrepreneur, more an individual with a wealth of experience trying to enable professionals an opportunity for one view of the truth that, as a user for over thirty years, wasn’t available to myself/my teams. I’m certainly no disrupter, and neither is Gravity, again, strange terminology. My role is to take our own experiences and ensure we use them to maximize the overall potential effect when delivering our clients’ solutions. Ensuring we are not complacent in our own beliefs and views, listening to clients, and providing a user experience that people need/want and can act on with absolute certainty. Ultimately I want Gravity to be around a long, long time, be recognized as a market leader in enabling supply chains to function, and scale to the ever-changing consumer behavior.
It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.Steve Jobs
- Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
I have not had many jobs despite my years. I have been very fortunate to have worked with some of the best individuals who, like me, trust you to do your job and reward you with opportunities to grow and prosper. I worked and cut my cloth in supply chain working for what at the time was the UK’s largest independent freight forwarder.
- What does your work culture look like? How do you keep your employees motivated and driven?
We have a very flat management structure, and everyone on the team has a voice. We like to listen and allow the team to express ideas and views. With less than 1.5% turnover in staff in 5.5 years, I think this tells you how happy the vast majority of employees are working at Gravity.
- Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
I have many stories that have inspired me, but I think it would be Microsoft, the old and the new if I had to pick one.
- Which is the most inspiring quote you have read?
It’s a well-known quote, one that is very true. It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. Steve Jobs. The key to this is to employ smart people and give them the tools to develop and then tell us what to do. It’s a bit like the consumer and the client. They are becoming younger while becoming more and more influential. Enable them to develop, listen to them, and you will win quicker and smarter. Technology is the enabler.
- What is your take on the competition in the market? How do you cope with it?
I’m amazed there isn’t more competition, although I think a lot of this is because the supply chain can be pretty complicated. I’d suggest that our biggest competitor is still the XL Spreadsheet, which reflects how many businesses still need to digitize. We do come across competition in specific silos, but very few across the entire spectrum. Personally, I welcome the competition. It keeps us honest and ensures we deliver value and stay ahead of the curve.
- Is competition a motivating factor? Does it help to bring out the best?
I wouldn’t say it brings out the best in me. I think it drives a continued focus to look inside what we are doing and ensure we remain true to our core values and vision. Competition is healthy. We know of others replicating what we are doing, and that’s fine, its not rocket science, but if others are following us, we know we are doing something that people like and want. Keeping ahead and delivering affordable best in class solutions is the key.