AWS and Gnosis Freight: Driving Together the Future of Cross-border Logistics
Guest post by Austin McCombs, Founder and CEO, Gnosis Freight and Michele Sancricca, Worldwide Head of Technology for Transportation and Logistics, AWS
Current State of the Industry
In a McKinsey survey of supply chain executives conducted in May 2020, 93% of supply chain leaders reported that they plan to increase resilience across their supply chain, with 53% expecting to dual source raw materials, 47% planning to increase critical inventory, and 40% planning on near shoring and increasing their supplier base. With the pandemic further increasing focus on resiliency, and disruptions like the recent Suez Canal congestion challenging business continuity, the ability to increase dynamic planning in supply chain has become a priority. For instance, manufacturers in industries such as electronics, healthcare, and automotive are struggling to adapt their supply chains to recent semiconductor shortages, due to the lack of visibility and control over a dispersed network of n-tier suppliers and logistic providers. Delays in personal protection equipment (PPE) and a heightened interest regarding the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines have shed light on the complexities of the supply chain system.
The Customer Pain Point
To solve for these challenges, businesses have sifted through long lists of data sourced from multiple locations before creating spreadsheets and sending them back and forth through email. Each version of the spreadsheet is populated with additional milestones and recirculated. This is a cumbersome process that requires a considerable amount of resources in the form of time and energy.
A Different Approach
Many companies are relying on AWS services and infrastructure to solve for such supply chain and logistics challenges. Among them is Gnosis Freight, a promising startup in the transportation and logistics domain with strong expertise in streamlining critical logistics processes through the use of proprietary software combined with customer input. Specifically, Gnosis’ focus is on the movement of goods, which it refers to as “logistics,” with the strongest attribute being the ability to provide seamless integration between all aspects of the logistical cycle. The Gnosis platform aims to aggregate data into one location, allowing clients to view the entire process holistically and in real-time.
Gnosis Freight has been working alongside AWS to deliver a cloud-based, agnostic process improvement system. Their core product can be described as a “Visibility Plus” platform that combines traditional track and trace data with a robust suite of process improvement tools such as demurrage and detention alarms, contract management, item-level data, customs milestones, and proactive “Gnotifications.”
The entire Gnosis system is based on the idea that software can be extremely effective at replacing repetitive behaviors, but when it comes to identifying and acting upon singular acts nestled within these repetitive frameworks, humans still have the advantage. If Gnosis can give those who manage the logistics the power to focus on correcting the issues rather than spending countless hours identifying the issues, our clients will experience improved efficiency, profitability and customer satisfaction.
For instance, a vast majority of the Gnosis business is focused on the lifecycle of a container. Gnosis collects numerous data points recording each milestone of the shipment process, which they are able to manipulate into a format that their software can use. Once the data has been “cleaned,” the Gnosis platform is able to segment out the information into categories: normal repetitive behavior and abnormal behavior, also referred to as “exceptions.” By identifying any abnormal behavior, Gnosis’ customers are able to spend less time searching for exceptions and more time managing those exceptions.
At Gnosis, the belief is that managing by exception can be broken down into four sub-components:
Use of Low Code Development
Gnosis prides itself on the ability to create a unique, custom user experience for each importer. Traditionally, this has been very difficult to scale due to the high costs of developing and maintaining software. However, Gnosis has found a proprietary way to offer unparalleled flexibility while maintaining scalability – through the use of low code development.
Low code is an emerging development strategy focused on using drag and drop functionality to rapidly deploy custom interfaces. This technology is drawing attention across industries, with pioneers validating the impact this subtle programming change can bring. Until recently, software has been perceived as one-size-fits-all but is beginning to evolve into a more hand-tailored space.
Gnosis utilizes low code to offer clients highly customized interfaces unique to each business and workflow. Using low code, Gnosis is able to closely collaborate with the future user and develop interfaces that look, feel and function in accordance with the user’s vision. While many technology platforms are looking to find ways to take humans out of the equation, Gnosis believes the next wave of innovation comes from getting humans more involved. Low code facilitates the democratization of the development cycle, allowing cross functional collaboration to mine into each business’ greatest asset – the industry knowledge, expertise, and creativity of their brightest employees.
In more functional terms, Gnosis helps companies to put a “face” on their data warehouse, enabling their employees and customers to interact with data without writing code, initiating queries, or running reports. For importers who have resisted technological adoption due to the high change management costs, this is truly a game changer. Gnosis allows importers to continue operating their business in the manner that has produced great results over the years while empowering modernization through meaningful technical advancements.
It is important to note that Gnosis, alongside most logtech companies, believes the future of international logistics will be driven by standardization. However, Gnosis only applies this belief towards the data flow – not the interface in which the cargo owner interacts with their data. Nuances in function, proces,s and workflow are what differentiate competitors in the cargo owner space, and Gnosis looks to provide technological solutions that allow importers to double down on their unique competitive advantages.
Gnosis on AWS
Gnosis uses AWS to house and distribute large amounts of data among customized low-code platforms by utilizing its unique tagging and distribution system. In particular, Gnosis leverages on Amazon RDS for data warehousing and Amazon EC2 for data cleansing and management. AWS provides the infrastructure to distribute data outward while having the flexibility to take in the various data types used during the first leg of the shipment. These formats include email parsing, API, EDI, FTP, sFTP, and many more. This ability to digest data in different formats has proven to be a key factor in Gnosis’ success, allowing them to customize solutions for all parties along the supply chain. “After trying many platforms available, AWS has offered unparalleled flexibility and scalability. This, combined with superior ease-of-use, has made AWS our go-to for all cloud computing needs,” says Austin McCombs, Gnosis Founder and CEO.
While Gnosis utilizes AWS in multiple facets of its operation, the most beneficial attribute is AWS’s ability to scale with the growth of the Gnosis platform. As a startup in the logtech space, flexibility within data infrastructure is paramount, especially as more customers are onboarded. Additionally, with the data on the platform being as granular as individual SKUs connected to a purchase order that is then assigned to a container, Gnosis must be able to maintain these complex data relationships between hundreds of thousands of records at a cost that doesn’t deplete the entire technical budget. AWS’s robust infrastructure allows for the housing and manipulation of these relationships in one easy-to-use location that optimizes both performance and cost.
While global supply chain can be complicated, Gnosis offers the clarity and tools to effectively manage one’s shipments. Their platform combines data from multiple sources and formats into a single, fully integrated system with the help of AWS. These platforms are customizable through the use of low code, allowing their customers to interact with their data in a familiar format. Gnosis software can impact the day-to-day of its users by eliminating any informational friction and allowing them to focus on what really matters – getting shipments from point A to point B.
About the Authors
Austin McCombs is the Founder and CEO of Gnosis Freight, an innovative logistics technology company, that is successfully using no-code development to bring cost-efficient, powerful, and custom software development to the global supply chain and logistics industry. Austin is a serial entrepreneur who has found creative and impactful ways to utilize data science and machine learning in real-world applications. Austin considers himself a logistics person, solving logistics problems, with modern, technical applications. He discovered his love for the logistics industry working with a global freight forwarder, and more importantly, their customers, solving their pain points, and helping them do their business, better, with technology.
Michele Sancricca is the AWS Worldwide Head of Technology for Transportation and Logistics. Previously he worked as Head of Supply Chain Products for Amazon Global Mile and led the Digital Transformation Division of Mediterranean Shipping Company (second largest ocean carrier in the world) while in the capacity of Director, Business Transformation for MSC USA. A retired Lieutenant Commander, Michele spent 12 years in the Italian Navy as Telecommunication Officer and Commanding Officer onboard aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates. A Harvard Business School graduate and a Six Sigma Black Belt, Michele holds also an MBA in Shipping and Logistics from the Middlesex University and a MS in Naval Science from the Italian Naval Academy, as well as a Port Terminal Management Diploma. Formerly Vice President of the New York City Young Shipping Professional Association, he still works on the side on pro bono consulting and mentoring project within the shipping industry.