Four Stories: How Roambee is Navigating the New Normal - Q2 2020 Newsletter
Sanjay Sharma July 23, 2020
In this newsletter, I'd like to share how Roambee is navigating the new normal.
After living through a quarter of the post-COVID-19 world, I’m convinced that having visibility is the new normal in the supply chain. Companies that are not transforming with visibility as a foundation will lose out in the long term.
Roambee is playing a crucial role in catering to the need for real-time visibility in the new normal. Therefore, it was critical for us to equip ourselves at short notice to cater to this increasing demand amidst all the challenges that the pandemic brought, and this is what our Q2 story was all about.
Toward mid-March, the pandemic affected most countries and administrations called for lockdowns. Roambee’s offices had to be temporarily shuttered without warning. Almost all of our global workforce had to transition to work from their homes even without a day’s notice.
Some of our team members were on business travel in regions that were severely affected at that time such as South East Asia and Europe. They had to abruptly cut short their travel and return home safely.
We had our own brush with the deadly virus too! Some of our team members were impacted and but thankfully, they’ve recovered completely and are back to working from home. This meant quick realignment and the creation of a secondary layer of responsibilities.
The impact for Roambee was not just logistical, it also forced us to think of ways to improve our financial resilience. Developing a practical operating plan was key, knowing that there will be shift in revenues and expenses. For example, we knew that our receivables will be delayed because our customers too were adapting to the pandemic and reorienting their own operations to make vendor payments.
That said, three months down the line, I’m happy to share that Roambee is experiencing strong and swift recovery. I’d like to narrate our recovery through four stories that encapsulate how Roambee is navigating the new normal and also becoming antifragile.
Story #1: Re-focusing on “now”
Nowcasting was not new to Roambee during its humble beginnings. However, with the scale that we’ve achieved recently through our revenues and investment, nowcasting hasn’t been a topic of discussion in our offices for a while with greater emphasis on achieving our longer-term vision.
During the end of March however, with COVID-19’s economic impact being imminent, the company had two options in the face of uncertainty: lay low and stay hopeful about the future or embrace the change and become more efficient with hyper-precise nowcasting.
We chose the latter, and we did it with a sense of urgency! Our nowcasting models use real-time data for multiple indicators such as service usage, demand generation, OKR progress and more, made available at a higher frequency to predict the present and the leading 8 weeks.
Looking back today, the question that remains: Were we too reactive? Were we myopic?
No! Thankfully, by the time we hit July, revenues were up 10% over Q1 and our order value doubled from 2019. At a time when companies are going bankrupt, laying off workforce, or deploying non-essential teams on furlough, our early decisions at the end of March have put us back on the path to profitability without a single layoff due to financial reasons.
I appreciate the Responsible Rebels at Roambee for all their efforts in dealing with a constantly evolving situation of revenue and expense shifts that COVID-19 brought. As a growing company that is closely watched, we are setting an example by acting quickly and assertively, leveraging real-time data ourselves!
Story #2: Re-organizing to win “now” and in the “future”
To continue to remain financially strong, we need to deliver our customer expectations flawlessly and build efficiency and transparency into our operations. To be technologically strong, we need to design and build our systems for the next phase of growth.
Success lies in achieving both, but how could we achieve this practically during these crunch times?
The answer was in re-organizing ourselves into two broad teams: a war-time team that will focus on delivering to our current customers and market in 2020 using our nowcasting methodology, and a strategic “build-for-scale” team that will work in parallel to ready Roambee for its next wave of growth in 2021.
This re-organization into two parallel functions tied to an operating plan and OKRs is helping every individual at Roambee work with singular focus and minimize distractions.
Story #3: Re-orienting to work remotely
Working from home is not a new concept in the software development industry, but Roambee is not a software development company, nor are our challenges common.
We deliver a tri-fecta service that combines hardware, software, and control-tower action. We run our own logistics operation to deliver and pickup our sensors “Bees.”
If you’ve visited a Roambee dispatch center, you would have observed our Bee inventory management infrastructure built to swiftly receive, recharge, QC, and reship our Bees to service our customers on demand. We had also setup control-tower infrastructure out of our offices in India and Mexico to provide immediate response to avert and normalize customers’ supply chain situations.
Imagine having to move all this infrastructure to our people’s homes with less than a week in downtime!
Imagine our people having to turn their home offices or desks into something much more than a laptop station!
Like Lego blocks, we re-built 100% our shipping and control operations remotely using the power of cloud infrastructure, data analytics, relevant servicing dashboards, and mobile Bee charging stations.
Our service levels remained unabated for existing customers even at a time when the demand for real-time goods and asset monitoring went up. The only minor delays we experienced on Bee deliveries or pickups were due to the disruption of 3rd party courier services and lockdowns during the pandemic.
We’ve templatized this remote operations approach for scale, once again setting an example for the tech industry beyond software services - where hardware and control-towers are also involved.
Story #4: Re-iterating our already strong customer focus
There are two ways companies can grow in the new normal: commoditize broadly or focus on adding incremental value to its existing customer base. We are investing heavily in the latter!
You cannot control what you can’t see! We became our customers’ eyes and ears by monitoring their goods and assets round the clock and delivering recommendations such as what they should do to keep them from getting spoiled or damaged, and providing alternative routes to their destinations.
Since early this year, we have been realigning to help our customers evolve from tactical “track and trace” to strategic “lean resilience” using data analytics.
Our customer experience teams have gone beyond improving the visibility experience. They’ve developed playbooks and best practices to enable customers to build lean resilience and a winning supply chain of the new normal. Early indicators show that our service is adding exponential value to their supply chain operations.
Building the Antifragile Roambee
The common thread you would find in these stories is that Roambee is not just coming out resilient from the pandemic, we’re becoming antifragile.
N N Taleb, a renowned mathematical statistician and risk analyst who coined the concept of Antifragility describes the term as follows, "Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better."
We plan to get better!
We plan to continue to navigate the new normal with bold, informed, yet quick decisions, just like we’re helping our customers and partners do with the help of real-time data.
Combining our own experience in becoming antifragile and leveraging the experiences of our customers and industry experts, we’ve created a handbook called “Smart Supply Chain Decisions in the New Normal.” It compiles pro-tips from industry experts about the do’s and don’ts, but most importantly the opportunities that one can take advantage of in the current climate. I encourage you to download this for yourself and for your enterprise.