Global Trade Management and the Cloud – Does It Work?

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Business applications in the cloud are moving us all into the next phase of computing and data sharing, especially in the arena of global trade. 

Global Trade Management (GTM) in the cloud means having access to a solution that not only provides up-to-date information in a secure environment, but also allows companies to add compliance areas as their needs grow. It also means that companies can have a single source of truth that is accessible to all parties in the supply chain, while maintaining the integrity of that data in a secure environment.  But, before we understand why GTM in the cloud really works, let’s explore the components of GTM and the importance of not only having that single source of truth but sharing it across the supply chain.

A large part of GTM, especially when in the cloud, is providing visibility into the supply chain. You may think you have visibility now, but once companies move GTM components to the cloud, they find that by automating processes and creating a shared platform, visibility increases even more. 

This process of improving visibility can be broken down into three very broad steps. The first step is to get the data needed by all trade partners in an accessible place where it can be updated frequently and utilised when making decisions on moving goods through the supply chain.  The second step is automating processes that were once manual to reduce rekeying errors and make data available in a more timely fashion.  The final step is taking the shared data and looking at trends to gather information for better decisions making.  This could be as easy as noticing that product is not being classified similarly at all locations, or as complex as figuring out which of the multiple sources for one good is more cost-effective or which trade lane has the least amount of risk associated with it. Improving visibility allows a company to see more clearly into the entire process of moving a good through the supply chain. 

If you attempt to install systems behind the firewall to gain GTM capabilities, which require constant regulatory updates as well as maintaining connectivity with entities across the world, you will keep your IT department busy.  In the old days, you could wait until your goods got to the port, print off a few pieces of paper and your goods would be released.  If your system was down, you could type something up as a backup.  With the current requirement of data interfaces provided in advance of imports and exports, you cannot afford for that connectivity to be down or your shipments will be delayed.  Most companies want this managed by a provider in the business of ensuring this connectivity.

If you attempt to maintain connectivity and data exchange formats for every broker, freight forwarder, carrier, and regulatory agency with which your company transacts, it won’t take long before your IT department tells you they are in the business of building or distributing things, not keeping up with the requirements of different governments and service providers.

As the Cloud Security Alliance says, security controls in cloud computing are, for the most part, no different than security controls in any IT environment.  Generally, GTM solutions are accessed through a private or hybrid cloud method, which provides the most integrated functionality built directly into the offering.  This type of Cloud method also has a high level of integrated security where the provider bears the responsibility for the security.  

To help make sure data security is not compromised, it is important to have security protocols for your company as well as ensure the service provider has fully vetted security on their platform.  There should also be a protocol for monitoring the service of the platform as well as monitoring for any attacks or failures.

Being able to gain visibility into the entire supply chain through one platform allows a company to bring other areas or locations on board in a seamless fashion.  There are other benefits to utilising the cloud for GTM, some of which include the ability to:  

Increase productivity without increasing costsReduce expenses related to IT infrastructureStreamline processes and provide access to data to your global workforceAdd on services and solutions as your compliance needs growImprove collaboration between teams and reduce time wasted on emailing filesConnect directly to supply chain partners and government agency systems to share dataAccess regulatory information that is updated and maintained on a real-time basisCreate internal data repositories to share company specific data across the supply chain

There is a lot to think about when considering business applications in the cloud.  However, leveraging software in the cloud has many advantages, especially when managing and automating your import/export compliance processes.  As more and more Customs Authorities and government agencies move to a paperless environment, we will see more and more relying on a single window where the exchange of data can take place seamlessly and effortlessly.  

Integration Point

Integration Point delivers global visibility and localized knowledge for 160+ countries on a single, web-based platform. Providing solutions for import/export management, product classification, free trade agreement qualification, denied party screening, drawback, foreign-trade zones, global duty deferral programs, supply chain security, entry validation, broker management, document management, and…

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