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Halit Develioglu of OPLOG on what we must do to create nationally secure and resilient supply chains

Interview
28.03.2023
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Eliminate the single point of failure. This means rethinking outdated processes that have traditionally applied to supply chains. In the past, there have been one or two ways to get an item from A to B. Now, with help from technology, supply chain operators must replace this system and offer flexible options and alternatives to reduce risk for business customers, and the end-consumer.

The cascading logistical problems caused by the pandemic and the war in Eastern Europe, have made securing a reliable supply chain a national imperative.

In addition, severe cyberattacks like the highly publicized Colonial pipeline attack, have brought supply chain cybersecurity into the limelight.

So what must manufacturers and policymakers do to ensure that we have secure and resilient supply chains? In this interview series, we are talking to Halit, who can share insights from their experiences about how we can address these challenges.

Halit Develioglu is the CEO and founder of OPLOG, a tech-enabled fulfillment company based in Turkey designed to provide ecommerce brands with a simpler way to manage their inventory and distribution. Applying his expertise and background in software development and logistics, Halit created OPLOG to remove the outdated and manual processes that slow down supply chain operations. Instead, his company uses automation to help ecommerce businesses grow, by making shipping and storing products more efficient and reliable.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Thanks for having me. Of course, so I was born in Ayrancı and grew up in Dikmen, both of which are situated in Ankara. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak in me. One of my earliest memories is of selling water at a local market at the age of 5. I quickly realized that hard work was not only satisfying, but also the key to financial independence. At the time, financial freedom meant being able to buy sweets and chocolate.

I also have to mention and thank my aunt, who during my early years encouraged me to be ambitious. I then decided to trade in my obsession with being a Taxi driver for Computer Engineering. A decade later, I graduated from Middle East Technical University and set up my first business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Studying Computer Engineering at METU had always been my goal, but when it came to the orientation, I found that many students were not interested in socializing, nor were they particularly ambitious. So, instead of waiting for things to warm up, I decided to spend the first few months progressing my skills outside of the educational institution.

Instead, I began writing software and doing freelance projects, a few months later and my network had grown. Soon, I was earning enough money to hire other students to support, and help me with software development projects. Looking back, going against the grain and deciding to start working independently alongside my studies, was the best decision I made. The snowball effect meant that by the time I had finished my studies, I had financial independence, an extensive resume, leadership skills and qualifications.

In 2009, I was approached by Sony to work as an advisor on a project. From here, I was able to apply my expertise and began working on bigger projects and assignments. By 2013, I’d helped Sony to expand their Pan-European commercial network by developing robust and intelligent supply chain systems, that added significant value to their service. It was a great example of how quickly things can happen if you are willing to put in the hard work.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Growth through freedom. There are an unlimited number of resources all dedicated to telling us how to lead. On the whole, they agree that micromanaging holds back progress. Naturally, this means that leaders must embrace freedom in order to succeed. This means trusting employees, and building a company culture that values integrity and independence.
  • Risk taking. One of the core aspects of leadership is being able to make and handle tough decisions. Any leader that wants to succeed, must push the boundaries and accept the possibility of failure. This doesn’t necessarily mean “betting the farm”, instead it means finding the balance between stepping out into the unknown and prudent risk-taking.
  • Accepting hard-to-accept truths. Sometimes things go very wrong. Even for experienced leaders, it can be tempting to ignore or deny mistakes or problems, especially when there is nothing you can do about them. However, it is important that leaders have the self-awareness to confront these challenges, and accept that fixing unforeseeable issues is a natural part of the job.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have a lot of exciting things happening in 2023. Last year we closed an €11M funding round which will enable us to expand out operations across Europe and the UK. Part of this expansion will involve opening a number of smart-warehouse facilities. Unlike traditional storage units, our facilities will utilize warehouse-robotics technology that is designed specifically to optimize the storage, picking, and distribution of goods.

What does the term “supply chain” encompass?

At OPLOG, “supply chain” encompasses every stage through which goods pass. Importantly, this also includes planning, visibility, reverse logistics and CRM too. Since the growth of ecommerce, returns and exchanges have become vital parts of the supply chain process, providing opportunities for retailers to reconvert customers.

Can you help articulate what the weaknesses are in our current supply chain systems?

We have learned in the last few years just how fragile and rigid our supply chains really are. This is where we at OPLOG, aim to make a difference. By digitally transforming supply chains, we can improve everything from transparency to efficiency. Technology like AI, IoT and advanced fulfillment analytics, can remove the manual processes and provide a competitive advantage for companies that adopt automation.

Can you help define what a nationally secure and resilient supply chain would look like?

Ultimately it comes down to visibility. For decades, customers and merchants have been left in the dark as goods pass through ports, checkpoints and fulfillment centers. Today, businesses demand accountability. They not only want to know where their goods are, but also who is handling them. Resilience is also about having the knowledge to reduce risk. Therefore, businesses that have access to fulfillment and logistics data, are far better positioned to adapt and optimize their supply chain processes.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the “5 Things We Must Do To Create Nationally Secure And Resilient Supply Chains” and why?

1. Eliminate the single point of failure. This means rethinking outdated processes that have traditionally applied to supply chains. In the past, there have been one or two ways to get an item from A to B. Now, with help from technology, supply chain operators must replace this system and offer flexible options and alternatives to reduce risk for business customers, and the end-consumer.

2. Increase automation to improve efficiency. Creating secure and resilient supply chains also means limiting the amount of reliance on manual processes. Adopting automation means that everything from purchase orders through to returns management can be streamlined. Another important benefit of automation is that during busy or unprecedented times, technology can maintain operations and continue the transportation of goods irrespective of staff shortages or lack of resources.

3. Be prepared for anything. Risk analysis plays a big part in the management of supply chains. Yet, even the most experienced of analysts will agree that not all risk can be avoided. Therefore, given the amount riding on domestic and international trade, businesses involved in supply chain operations must adopt a ‘ready for anything’ mentality. This means continuously improving detection and response capabilities, as well as developing, testing and improving incident response plans.

4. Learn from mistakes. There’s no denying that in the last few years, the supply chain industry has been under immense pressure. Environmental, political and social issues have all had a significant impact on the transportation of goods. On the bright side, these challenges provide a unique learning opportunity, and enable us to future-proof against similar problems. Security is all about patching up the holes in the ship, which means when things go wrong, operators must conduct thorough post-mortems to assess what can be developed, changed and improved.

5. Invest in innovation. Being one step ahead is no longer enough. In order to keep up with transformation, industry players need to be thinking decades ahead. Technology is always advancing, and with autonomous vehicles, drones and robotics all on the horizon, players in the supply chain industry must invest in research and development projects that support these systems.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

That’s a great question! In my opinion, everything leads back to freedom. If we really want to drive change we have to make sure that everyone around us is free to grow. Freedom doesn’t have to be physical either, giving people the freedom to learn, create, struggle, succeed and fail are all important elements to living a fulfilled life.

This was very inspiring and informative. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this interview!

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