A Chat with Katie Kinraid

We are pleased to continue our 2021 series our fire-side chat column with key people in the supply chain industry. It is with particular pleasure to chat-up with Katie Kinraid, of BluJay Asia Pacific. Katie describes herself as “ passionate about driving efficiency & innovation in Supply Chain through technology” – a quality that is very relevant to face-up to the many supply chain challenges in our path !

“Katie welcome to another of LogiSYM’s fire-side chats for 2021 & thank you for making the time to speak to us in what can imagine your very busy schedule”.

  • Let me start off by asking you to tell us a little about your background and experience?

Growing up with three brothers, life was always a little competitive. My family background was in retail and I thought this was always my path. After leaving University, my Father encouraged me to get a job and try something on my own first. With limited options in the small town I grew up in, I found myself taking the first job that would give me the same remuneration as my brothers! That job was in marketing for supply chain software company Blackbay.

But I did not see myself growing up in this industry – did not seem to be a glamorous and exciting and one that was dominated by males. However I seemed to have found my niche – it was getting to understand customers and the their supply chain.

After working in different global marketing roles, my passion for the industry took over when I landed in London. I began to focus on the use of technology and strategy to help logistics companies tackle growing consumer demand – the new “need it now” culture. This saw me travelling on long haul trucks with drivers in the US, working as an Uber driver and mystery shopping home delivery to understand the environment our users operated in.

All along the way I was constantly learning about the impact that technology could have at all levels of the supply chain, whilst working in marketing, sales, product, strategy and executive level management.

I have been very fortunate to forge strong relationships with those around me, who have supported my growth and development and encouraged me to take all opportunities in front of me. Highlighting the importance of always surrounding yourself with people smarter than you!

  • Can you share with us an overview of BluJay & more specifically your market segment?

BluJay’s mission is to forge modern supply chains of the future and transforming traditional logistics – slow & unagile habits! By this I mean, improving the way we collaborate & communicate with customers. This has a critical impact on how the industry moves to a more responsive service vs cost approach.

BluJay’s solutions are essential to helping logistics supply chain providers improve efficiencies, minimise risk and capitalise on opportunities for profitable growth.

BluJay works with over 8,000 companies in more than 100 countries around the globe. BluJay customers include five of the top 10 food and beverage companies, 32 of the top 40 LSPs, and 24 of the top 25 freight forwarders. The key is in the quality of our collaboration.

I see big improvements in collaboration but it’s still developing to reach a more mature level.

  • What is the leadership role of BluJay in enabling supply chain software to make its mark? What are the technologies that you see as of particular importance to the Supply Chain Industry?

BluJay is results-oriented and this starts with customers’ results. A key commitment is to deliver solutions that are easy to use and effective in creating the results customer’s need to be successful in their space.

Overcoming the impact of disruption in the supply chain and logistics industry can only be achieved via a data-driven approach. We deploy solutions in scenario planning & modeling & case studies analysis in our risk mitigation approach. We see our leadership in driving change through education & relationship building with our customers, where they can trust our solutions to give them real time visibility, options & accuracy.

Supply chain management technology is critical in times of disruption as it affords visibility into complex supply chain networks. The data visibility allows users to identify pain points and therefore solutions. Such information is a critical component of client communications in situations of delays/disruptions.

The next steps in mitigating future disruption challenges, is a rethink of supply chain models. We need to minimise risks posed by global events and build supply chain resiliency.

We are already seeing companies move away from a global ‘just in time’ delivery model towards a localised approach that incorporates timing buffers in case of unforeseen disruption.

  • What are some of the supply chain challenges that you see Customers face in the Asia Pacific region and how can BluJay solutions help to solve them?

The pandemic created a perfect storm of disruption for the logistics supply chain industry both at a global and regional level. Closed borders, quarantine restrictions and social distancing requirements for staff combined with an explosion in delivery demand from online retail sales made for a tough period of shipping delays and warehouse backlogs across the globe. Essentially, demand for deliveries skyrocketed yet the capacity of delivery firms shrunk.

However, even pre-COVID, the APAC region has faced a number of major interruptions to the supply chain, mostly driven by extreme weather events – typhoons in Japan, bushfires in Australia or mass flooding in the Philippines.

Whilst we can prepare for some form of disruption, you can’t predict what that next event will be. However, we can assess and manage what we can control and where your vulnerabilities lie. Many of our customers in APAC are looking at how they can become more agile. Learning from the past is important & often we quickly forget the lessons learnt. We know what needs to be done & should take action.

Reducing reliance on different modes of transport or a single source location, while diversifying collaborative relationships within the market is key defensive strategy. But true agility relies on gaining real-time supply chain visibility. This empowers logistics teams to make data-driven decisions quickly – and this is where BluJay comes in.

More and more APAC organisations are starting to invest in improved supply chain forecasting and visibility systems. This has forced organisations to focus on how they can adapt their capability to manage both the highs and lows of the demand at various points of consumer demand chain.

  • Where do you see next technology breakthroughs coming from and how is BluJay positioned to continue its leadership position in a business changing landscape?

Customers are looking at vendors who can provide multiple products and solutions. This means they need to collaborate with reliable vendors that know and understand their business needs. Customers ask vendors to support them on infrastructure and security – particularly with COVID – customers are happy that vendors take on hosting. Vendors are expected to manage the fluctuations in demand more cost effectively. Essentially people are returning to focus on their core competencies.

BluJay’s TMS solutions have a vital role to play to ensure delivery capabilities can stay ahead of future delivery peaks, minimise disruption and able to secure ongoing relationships with industry. Transport management systems are more important now than ever before.

TMS solutions are moving beyond being just a freight management tool. They are seen as a vital enabler of high-quality customer service. The test of the best TMS solutions, enables clear and up to date delivery tracking, allows for more flexible customers’ delivery options – means they can select the most convenient delivery times, alter final destination details and allow for contactless drop off if need be.

Automation & human interaction has to be well synchronised to ensure supply chain efficiency as well as superior customer service – critical today for the “I want it now” consumer. For time and labour-intensive operations, in warehouse management and distribution, there is a clear benefit to automation.

  • How should the supply chain industry re-think the future with so many variables & challenges seen ahead?

Supply chain resiliency will require a combination of globalised and regionalised methods of supply. We expect to see local hubs for distribution and logistics emerge. The change in how the workforce is distributed, the potential for more local industries to participate in the assembly and development of goods.

In Asia in particular, we see the market looking to multiple low-cost locations such as Vietnam or Thailand, away from reliance on China. Further investments in technology will mean a supply chain that is proactive, rather than reactive, a supply chain where transparency and visibility of goods is the norm and a supply chain that is learning to be more flexible and agile, prepared for mutli-source & mutli-type disruptions.

No one vendor, carrier, technology provider or manufacturer has all of the tools available to be successful. But through greater transparency and sharing through data, organisations can collaborate on common challenges to create a frictionless and resilient supply chain.

  • Now for some future-gazing: where do you see next technology breakthroughs?

There are a lot of technologies available, along with an incredible amount of data. The challenge for many businesses is leveraging that data to connect to their business, to make better decisions. I have observed that some of these applications took centre stage during the pandemic, but note they are not necessarily new or ground-breaking and new solutions need to evolve.

Visibility tools that allow organisations to take control of their supply chains, from tracking raw materials to end delivery of finished goods, have proven themselves to be critical during the pandemic. More and more organisations are looking at tracking every single aspect of their supply chain, to determine strategies & make informed decisions to mitigate any delays or failures – even as goods are in transit.

Companies are also leveraging blockchain across multiple suppliers and partners in the supply chain, for both full visibility and also accountability for ethical and sustainable sourcing.

In this uncertain world, there is an increasing move towards predicting future trends. We also see our customers supply chain strategy, shifting from reactive to preventative. This creates new & better ways of managing and mitigating risk.

  • What is BluJay’s future strategy for the Asia Pacific region?

In Asia Pacific we are focused on sustainable growth. And whilst we recognise that we cannot be everything to everyone, we focus on the markets and countries where our products can help customers achieve a competitive advantage.

  We are continually analysing the market verticals to strategise the introduction of new product(s) or enter into a new country. Our innovation strategy is one of engagement of new solutions with a strong cooperation on new way of doing things, creation of added value and Client relationship building.

  In addition we also focus on our partner network – 4PL partnership. With these partnerships we are able to deepen our presence in countries and support our implementation strength in region.

Whilst we are all fighting for a market competitive advantage, there will different options & different approaches. This I think is great, as it creates real innovation & ultimately pushes us all ahead in developing new technologies & solutions.

About Katie Kinraid

Katie is an innovative leader who keeps a continuous eye on the market for what’s next, while taking an active approach to understanding and listening to customer needs. Prior to overseeing customer adoption and growth in the Asia-Pacific region for BluJay Solutions, Katie had responsibility for global product strategy, market awareness, propositions definition, realisation, and product evangelism at Blackbay, a leading mobility-enabled solution provider. 

Katie has served in global marketing and product leadership roles that have taken her from Australia to London, to New Zealand, including responsibility for design, development, implementation, and delivery of applications.

Joe Lombardo
Founder of ESP Consult

Joe Lombardo has advised CEOs on change management through a supply chain focus.
The need for change is a very likely and necessary step for their business development and sustainability. However, starting a journey of transformation within their organisation can be hugely daunting. This introduction to a transformational journey illustrates that it is not as complicated or as expensive as it may seem. But the rewards and benefits will be significant. ESP Consult advises on structuring the model to facilitate and successfully implement Adaptive Supply Chain driven organisation. For those involved, it has been an enlightening and motivating experience.