Show me the money: enhancing visibility across the cash cycle
To drive efficiency and provide higher visibility across the entire cash cycle, Cash-in-Transit (CIT) companies can leverage cash logistics systems. By including route planning, mobile route operations, track & trace, contract management, and billing, these new systems can dramatically improve operational efficiency, automate key processes, and optimize decision making. Ross Knight, Head of Product Management (Software), describes how the technology works and the benefits that customers can expect.
What challenges are Cash-In-Transit (CIT) companies facing today? And in the future?
The major challenge for CITs today, which will continue to grow, is rapidly increasing customer expectations. Customers expect cash deliveries to be as easy as Amazon deliveries with online ordering, tracking, and instant receipts. Many CITs have not offered these capabilities in the past, and they are challenged by their retail and branch customers to adapt quickly. That said, security will always be a significant concern and it does limit how "Amazon-like" cash logistics can truly become. Another challenge is rising costs for labor and vehicles.In very competitive markets, CITs can find it hard to pass on cost increases to the customer.
Many CITs around the world are trapped in legacy, heavily customized systems designed many years ago. Some of these systems have limited features, and they are expensive to maintain and difficult to upgrade. One of the biggest reasons that CIT organizations remain trapped is the large number of customers they serve. When providing services for hundreds of clients throughout your network, many of whom have their own specific requirements, replacing a system will look like a daunting task. But our experienced consultants and project managers can help overcome this challenge and fully realize the benefits that come with a fully scalable, standard system with regular new features. These challenges do not apply to every organization. Some CITs are ahead of the curve and are proving that it can still be a profitable industry.
Finally, there is a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the vehicles involved in the CIT business, and a ‘green’ desire to minimize deliveries and pickups for a heavily armored, heavily loaded vehicle that might achieve only single-digit kilometers to the gallon.
Why is visibility across the cash cycle so important?
Going back to my Amazon example, if your $100 package gets lost, you will be annoyed, but you can reorder, and be reimbursed at relatively little hassle or cost. If a CIT "misplaces" a $20,000 bag of cash, it is a very different problem. Customers expect 100% accuracy. When something goes wrong, everyone involved needs to know if the issue happened at the retailer, during the transport of the cash, or at the vault. Did the retailer send one less bag than scanned, is the driver stuck in traffic, or was he attacked? Having visibility across the entire cash supply chain in real-time becomes invaluable in helping implement corrective measures and identifying possible areas of improvement in the process. Cash management is very data-driven. There is so much to analyze when considering whether to buy a new vehicle, where to locate an ATM, or even whether to build a new cash center. More data, combined with accurate analysis, results in better decisions.
Why is “track & trace” so important for CITs? What are the most critical new technologies and does mobile play a role?
Track & trace is a simple feature to track a bag by its unique reference, typically on a barcode. It is used in many other industries and is similar to using a shipping number to track a parcel. For CITs, there are some restrictions; for example, you can't see the exact location of a vehicle for obvious security reasons. A new addition to our track & trace feature is the possibility of verification using NFC. NFC is more secure than barcodes, which can easily be replicated, and provides an extra layer of certainty. It can be coupled with geofencing, which allows the user to complete a service only within a defined radius of the specific GPS coordinates of the location.
These are just two examples of how we can utilize new technology on mobile phones and PDAs used by crews in the field. Another example of improving operational processes is e-lock integration to access ATMs. We have integrated the unlocking process into our workflow – meaning that we can request an unlocking code from the manufacturer’s API via the Compass mobile application, plus other supporting processes.
Additionally, Route Optimization is becoming more interesting, as the capabilities of map technology have grown exponentially over the last decade or so. This could mean finding the optimal master routes, or clusters of locations, or it could mean finding the quickest way to visit each stop.
Can you describe the value of Compass Suite?
Compass is a software that supports the flow and management of cash throughout the cash cycle – from retailers to ATMs, CITs, and cash centers. It is modular, highly flexible and configurable, and designed to optimize the balance between efficiency, visibility, and control. As well as being rich in features and flexibility, one of the most attractive things about CWC is our standard product policy. Any enhancements or customizations created for one customer are added to the standard product, so the entire community benefits. This also means that support, maintenance, and upgrading are far easier than for a highly customized application. We are seeing many examples of organizations trying to replace legacy, highly bespoke, cash management systems. We are quickly learning how expensive, resource-hungry, and risky that is. Upgrading from one standard product version to another, which has already been proven at other clients, will mitigate a lot of that pain.
How many customers are using the Compass Suite, and what results have they seen?
Our software runs at hundreds of cash centers and CIT hubs in countries around the world. Our installations range hugely, both in terms of scale and in terms of the economies they serve. Our results depend on the priority of each customer. In some countries where labor costs are low, the critical requirement is improved cash visibility and control over the process. In other countries, it is about driving process optimization to improve efficiency. In each case, we work closely with the customer to configure the product to meet their objectives.
Having visibility across the entire cash supply chain in real-time becomes invaluable in helping implement corrective measures and identifying possible areas of improvement in the process.Ross Knight, Head of Product Management (Software)
How does Compass enable better collaboration between CITs and their customers?
End customers, including banks and retailers, can have direct login access to the Compass Suite so they can easily place orders online and view reports on operational and KPI data. We intend to include these users as part of the cash cycle.
How do technologies like Compass improve security?
Security is improved when everything is time-stamped. Customers can drill into the details of exactly when things have gone wrong. In general, no one cares when something has gone well; they are only looking for detailed info on failures! Compass will provide the information on when the incident happened, who was responsible, where it was in the process, and how much cash, or equipment, was involved.
What new technologies do you predict will be most important for CITs in the future?
In general, customers will continue to expect a greater convergence towards the services provided by more general logistics industries – so more online services, smarter analytics (including forecasting), and more dynamic reporting. And this must be delivered without any compromise on the age-old industry priorities of security and efficiency.
But the good news is that we see so many operating models, processes and even end-customer contracts that haven't been reviewed for years, there is lots of room for optimization. In terms of technology, I see the continued growth of three key areas:
1. Route optimization:
Traffic-based data will become even more essential. Just remember that 15 years ago, Google Maps barely existed. Now we expect to easily view and find directions between virtually every place on earth. These possibilities, coupled with the features and algorithms available in this area, have already changed the world, and it will continue to feed into every industry which involves any form of logistics.
Already, CIT companies have access to a range of services through the web. I can see this increasing to a genuine self-service portal. Users will not only place orders, monitor locations and view reports, but will bring all of this – and more – together with other functions such as vehicle tracking, fleet management, and resource planning.
3. Dynamic scheduling:
It is no longer good enough to send a CIT van every Monday to collect cash, and every Friday to deliver change ahead of the weekend rush. Instead, optimized scheduling will ensure that collections and deliveries happen only when they are needed. This requires two things – a smart system to predict when services are required (which Compass already provides), plus the operational flexibility to manage vehicles, people, and other resources at a more dynamic level. Of course, these can go hand-in-hand.
What should CITs do to stay competitive?
Buy Compass! Joking aside, CITs shouldn't be afraid to review their established systems. Benchmark your operation – examine operating models, existing applications, and processes and challenge the status quo. Every attempt to optimize requires some risk, but the opportunities are there to reduce costs, improve control and visibility, and add new services. I encourage customers to keep an open mind. Technology is enabling new concepts in our industry that weren't possible 10 – 15 years ago, and the leaders are already taking advantage of it.