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What’s your why?

Over the past 24 months we’ve been focusing on applying our skills to organisations in the primary sector. We’ve realised that it’s this work we love the most; projects with strong connections to sustainability, the environment and that take a people-centred approach to finding the right solution for the right problem. Through this experience we decided it was time to take a more active primary sector focus and at the start of 2020 we launched our new vision;

Cucumber supports the global primary industry to be more sustainable and productive today, to deliver a better world tomorrow.

You will see the word “global” in there, so whilst our first goal is to support New Zealand, we think that the world can learn from New Zealand and we could learn from the world, so we’re aiming high!

Since then we have been on an exploration mission to gain deeper insight into some of the biggest challenges the sector faces. As part of this journey we have identified a range of topics we are curious to know more about. Each quarter we dig deep on the topic in focus, conducting primary and secondary research and learning as much as we can about the problems and opportunities.

Our first topic was Supply Chain Optimisation and it’s been such an interesting learning journey that we thought we would share some of the insights. We believe that to truly make the changes the sector requires we need many people looking for and working on solutions.

We have digested whitepapers, articles, and blogs and conducted our own primary research with people from Forestry, Logistics, Agriculture, Māori Economy, Apiculture and Horticulture.

Here’s some of the top problems we consistently heard:

  • Processes still include many manual steps (performed and recorded non-digitally). There is a bias towards human control which comes down to lack of confidence in digital solutions. We still seem to love or feel the need to exchange paper! Even when it’s soggy, muddy and comes in many different inconsistent formats.

  • Technology investments haven't kept pace with the growth in data or methods for processing and analysing this data.

  • It is difficult for people or legacy systems to process and analyse large volumes of data and identifying the best technology to use is challenging with knowledge of new technologies limited.

  • Businesses have evolved to meet changing customer needs with bolt-on configurations of core systems. This has made systems much more complex.

  • Large established businesses are often tightly wedded to old school technology and business processes or overseas providers who charge like a wounded bull when something goes wrong.

  • There is limited connectivity between the different organisations involved in the supply chain and control or influence decreases through the chain. Every organisation we spoke to was missing a shared supply chain language. It’s a game of supply chain whispers.

  • Finally, organisations don't regularly review or evolve their supply chain operating model; i.e., its processes, structures, and people. Whilst this might not affect the day to day running it does impact the ability to manage and make change decisions.

We heard many examples of how the recent COVID 19 Pandemic affected supply chains and that planning for this kind of event was quite simply not on the radar for many. The challenges shared within this article are just the tip of the iceberg.

At Cucumber, we are now identifying where we think our skills can best be applied to help solve some of these problems. We look forward to sharing more on that soon.

If you want to partner with us to solve problems like this or if you’ve got a tricky problem keeping you up at night that you think needs to be looked at with fresh perspective, please get in touch.