ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

Why Integrated, DoD Approved Software is the Best Solution for Suppliers

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 @ 12:03 PM

DoD Approved Software.jpg


Businesses of all descriptions work as Department of Defense suppliers; simply because the federal government is one of the largest purchasers of all sorts of things. But many DoD suppliers struggle with the systems and processes needed to effectively support their work.

For any vendors on the DoD approved software list you may consider, it’s important to know what to look for – not all DoD approved software is created equal.

What’s the difference between software and solutions?

The purpose of software solutions is to allow users to complete tasks as efficiently as possible. However, the words “software” and “solution” are often conflated, so as to suggest that all software is inherently a solution.

There are many kinds of software that organizations use to improve a specific process or meet a special requirement. Different teams use different software for different needs. For example…

  • The sales team uses software to communicate with potential customers or respond to quote requests
  • The shipping and logistics department uses software to create the required documents and labels to send assets out the door
  • The accounting team uses software to efficiently invoice and maintain receipt of payment for compliant record keeping purposes

The only common thread between these tools is that they are separate in nature, unrelated to each other, and they force an organization to maintain multiple applications.

Is ERP the answer?

Many organizations have found a way to achieve better integration using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP systems). ERP systems can be a great way for businesses to integrate their departments and allow users to work in a more streamlined way.

Yet for all their benefits, ERP systems have limitations in niche spaces. Seldom do they meet MIL-STD 129 r or MIL-STD 130 n mandates. Department of Defense requirements such as these can put companies at a disadvantage, especially when they’re working as a federal supplier for the first time.

Failing to comply with DoD requirements can have a major impact on your success as a government supplier. For all the time and money spent, you should expect your software to provide a complete and compliant solution. Unfortunately, it is common to hear from DoD suppliers that have purchased an ERP system only to later learn that more investment is necessary to create a solution that fits both their needs and the DoD’s requirements.

What makes DoD approved software different?

CRM, ERP, accounting, and logistics software works well for many businesses, but not necessarily for DoD suppliers. This is because DoD suppliers have unique requirements and process standards that other businesses do not, including:

With these needs in mind, what should DoD suppliers look for when it comes to software solutions?

Look for DoD approved software that provides an integrated, cross-departmental solution

Finding a compliant DoD approved software solution specific to your needs is often one of the greatest challenges facing supplier organizations. No matter which vendors you’re considering from the DoD approved software list, you will be best served by initially reviewing your DoD process from a 10,000-foot view rather than “boots on the ground.”

It’s important to first understand how the entire DoD commerce process flows between your departments. This will help you ask the right questions during a solution evaluation.

Here’s why the cross-departmental view matters:

  • Tasks occurring within the contracts department affect the shipping and accounting departments
  • Shipping and logistics data corresponds with required accounting information
  • Compliant fulfillment affects your organization's future ability to win DoD awards

DoD commerce is truly a 360-degree process. Enabling your key departments to work together and capture the right data will help you be successful as a DoD supplier.

The bottom line? Software is not truly a “solution” when more than one unrelated application is needed to complete a process.

At Odyssey, we have deep experience working with DoD suppliers to help them drive efficiency and ensure compliance with DoD requirements. To learn more, see a demo of our DoD approved software solutions or contact us to start a conversation.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, RFID, UID

What is Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) and Why Does It Matter?

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Mar 8, 2018 @ 13:03 PM

WAWF Wide Area Work Flow.jpg 

Wide Area Workflow (WAWF), renamed iRAPT in November 2014, is the secure web-based system used by the Department of Defense for electronic submission of advance shipping data, invoicing, receipt, and acceptance, which allows DoD vendors to submit and track invoices and receipt/acceptance documents.

Although years have passed since the DoD made the name change from WAWF to iRAPT, which stands for Invoice Receipt Acceptance and Property Transfer, old habits die hard and many still refer to this system using its old moniker.

Why is Wide Area Workflow important for DoD vendors?

Wide Area Workflow/iRAPT is part of the DoD’s e-Business Suite, and serves as the method by which new acquisition UID and RFID data is submitted. As RFID and UID data are fundamental components in the DoD’s inventory control methodology, WAWF/iRAPT is a crucial part of doing business with the government.

Essentially, the DoD looks to the WAWF/iRAPT system for accurate, up-to-date data on:

  • Assets shipped
  • Assets received
  • Transactions that need to be paid to suppliers

Understandably, it’s vital to ensure the integrity of the data entered in WAWF/iRAPT.

Another important consideration is labeling. The DoD has specific requirements regarding how assets must be labeled. The data on the labels must match what has been entered into the Wide Area Workflow/iRAPT database.

Meeting the DoD’s requirements for data input, asset tracking, and labeling can be a challenge, especially for companies that are new to the process of working with federal agencies.

How to manage Wide Area Workflow/iRAPT compliance more effectively

No matter which acronym you use, using WAWF/iRAPT is a core element of being successful as a DoD supplier. But there are challenges, including:


  • The WAWF/iRAPT system works well for reducing paper documentation and tracking assets, but it does not equip vendors to effectively and accurately manage their RFID and UID data.
  • Manual entry of all your data is prone to errors, yet any one error could cause transactions to be rejected, or create other complications down the line.
  • The web interface requires redundant data entry, increasing the chances for errors to occur.
  • While a direct integration into WAWF/iRAPT is the best solution for managing and submitting compliant shipping, RFID and UID, and invoicing data, few organizations have the resources or government-approved status to execute this.

These challenges can be fully addressed by working with a DoD-approved software vendor, like Odyssey, to manage the entire process more effectively. Odyssey’s iRAPT Console software allows DoD suppliers to stay compliant with government requirements while increasing process efficiency and reducing errors. The software has been designed to submit all the required information electronically through direct integration, while helping suppliers manage unique identifiers and labeling compliance.

 To learn more about how Odyssey can streamline your processes and ensure DoD compliance, connect with us today.

Your Guide to DIBBS, the DLA’s Internet Bid Board System

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 @ 10:12 AM

woman using dibbs to find dla solicitations.png


When a friend is unlucky in love, what do we say to make them feel better? “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” That may be so, but that’s not the root of the problem—there are plenty of fish, but which one is the right fish?

In the same way, it can be challenging for businesses to find the right defense contracts on which to bid. There are plenty of opportunities, but how do you find the best fit for your firm? DIBBS is part of the solution.

What is DIBBS?

DIBBS is the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Internet Bid Board System. The online portal gives users automated access to approximately 85% of the DLA’s solicitations, which support a wide variety of defense needs, including combat logistics, consumables like food and fuel, uniforms, equipment, and spare parts.

According to the DLA, vendors can use DIBBS to search for contract opportunities, submit quotes on RFQs (Requests for Quotations), view RFPs and Invitations for Bid (IFBs), see awarded contracts, and find other information about government procurements.

Why using DIBBS can be challenging

The DLA provides over $34 billion in goods and services each year, and processes an average of 100,000 requisitions and 10,000 contract actions each day. Understandably, trying to find the best contract opportunities for your business amid such sheer volume can feel like a daunting task—too many fish in the sea! Businesses often waste significant amounts of time sorting through hundreds of RFQs just to find the handful that fit their criteria.

5 steps for using DIBBS more effectively

With that in mind, let’s dive into five steps for using the DLA’s online bid system.

  1. Register in SAM and DIBBS. Creating an account in both the SAM and DIBBS systems is a required first step. You’ll be provided with credentials to conduct transactions and given the opportunity to register for emails about solicitations and award notifications. 
  1. Decide on user roles. DIBBS gives you the ability to designate someone in your organization as a “super user,” which is essentially your account administrator. This role can add, delete, or modify user accounts, change passwords, and edit vendor profile information. Decide whether you’re the best person for this role, or choose a colleague to act as your super user.
  1. Identify RFQ opportunities. To find the best RFQs for your firm, DIBBS offers a database search function that leverages multiple criteria to sift through opportunities, including Federal Supply Class (FSC), National Stock Number (NSN), Solicitation Number, and other factors. This is where the process can become tedious and time-consuming.

DLA bidding software can simplify this process by allowing you to build profiles that contain the specific criteria you’re looking for in an opportunity. The software will search the database for you and surface only the opportunities that fit your profile, presenting them in a real-time dashboard.

  1. Submit quotes: DIBBS also permits users to submit their quotes directly to the DLA via the internet. Using a software platform that’s directly integrated with DIBBS allows you to complete the process of finding, submitting and tracking quotes in a single console, saving time and generating more precise reporting.
  1. Track your wins and losses. Using your DLA bidding console, track which contracts you’ve been awarded—and which ones you haven’t. Over time, patterns will emerge that will give you insight into your business and inform future bid decisions.

With Odyssey’s proprietary software, you can transform the DIBBS “sift and search” bidding process into “review and respond,” making your process more efficient and providing deeper insight into your bidding strategy. See a demo of our DLA-Bid Console to learn more.

5 Reasons Why Inventory Control Matters

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 @ 12:11 PM


Inventory Control.png


For whatever reason, being a “control freak” seems to have a negative connotation. However, when it comes to inventory control, being a control freak is actually a good thing. Having proper inventory management and control procedures in place is a critical factor in your success as a DoD vendor.

What is inventory control?

The objective of inventory control, also known as internal control, is right-sizing your in-stock inventory so as to serve the needs of your customers without keeping excessive supply on hand.

Although it is often confused with inventory management, there are some differences. While inventory control deals with tracking what you have in stock and knowing what is available, as well as understanding the location of your goods and ensuring they are stored properly, inventory management is more concerned with stocking the right amount of goods, knowing when to reorder certain items, and making sure you don’t overpay when you do.

Why should inventory control matter to DoD suppliers?

The importance of inventory management and control cannot be overstated. Cost, efficiency, and DoD process standards are all factors that lead best-in-class defense suppliers to employ strict inventory control procedures.

Here are five reasons to give careful consideration to your inventory control processes.

  1. The Department of Defense has inventory control standards.

UID and RFID comprise the backbone of the DoD’s inventory control methodology. Defense suppliers are required to use systems like iRAPT and Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) to do business with the government. These systems and methodologies are vital components of the DoD’s supply chain -- one that can only reach maximum cost savings if efficiencies are deployed on both sides of the transaction between the government and its vendors.

  1. Poor inventory control affects your profitability.

Inventory control and management is all about the interplay between too much and not enough. Having too much inventory on hand (especially slower-moving goods) ties up capital and eats into your profitability. When it comes to maximizing profitability, the established philosophies of lean and just-in-time inventory still hold true.

  1. Lack of inventory causes significant challenges.

The opposite of the above -- not having enough of the necessary inventory -- causes backorders, delays, and could put your government contracts at risk. In a competitive space where many vendors bid for the same work, you can’t afford to let inventory control issues hurt your performance and potentially damage your firm’s reputation.

  1. Good inventory control makes you more efficient.

Imagine being unable to find the inventory you need, even though you know it’s somewhere in the warehouse. Not only is this frustrating, but it results in lost time and other inefficiencies. Knowing where inventory is located at all times makes for a more efficient workflow.

  1. Better control yields better insights.

It’s impossible to make truly data-driven decisions when you don’t have an accurate picture of what’s going on. Knowing what you actually have in your inventory not only saves time; it allows you to make decisions based on the most accurate data possible.

Diligent inventory control practices are a vital component to your success as a DoD supplier. Odyssey provides a DoD-approved software solution for managing iRAPT and VSM compliance, simplifying the inventory control procedures you’re required to complete as a defense supplier. Learn more about how our solutions can streamline and automate these time-consuming processes: see a personalized demo.

Why RFID Tags Are Your New Normal

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 @ 13:11 PM

RFID Tags.png

Just as cellular phones the size of suitcases have been replaced by smart devices that fit in our pockets, newer technological innovations inevitably supplant less efficient tools. While barcodes served many industries well in the past, RFID technology has reached maturity and is rapidly becoming standard practice for tracking assets and inventory.

For defense contractors, RFID tags can make a significant impact in streamlining asset tracking and delivering better data. In this article, you’ll learn how RFID tags can make a difference in your business, how to implement RFID tagging, and questions to ask a potential RFID solution provider.

What are RFID tags?

RFID stands for “radio-frequency identification.” This technology relies on electromagnetic fields to automate the identification and tracking of tags placed on items. DoD suppliers know how transformational this technology can be in terms of tracking and managing their products and assets.

Why should RFID tags be your new normal?

Companies across many different industries, from retail to logistics to manufacturers, have adopted RFID technology over the past several years. According to the editor-in-chief of RFID Journal, Mark Roberti, RFID is "just now reaching maturity and will soon explode," particularly as more and more firms experience the benefits of the technology for themselves. In addition, research company IDTechEx estimated the total RFID market to be worth $11.2 billion in 2017. They also projected that 18.2 billion tags would be sold, representing impressive year-on-year growth of 20%.

There are many benefits of RFID over more traditional tracking methods, such as barcodes. Using RFID tags for asset tracking is:

  • More efficient: Wireless scanning, and the ability to scan multiple tags at once, allows RFID tags to provide information extremely quickly.
  • More precise: The real-time nature of RFID tracking gives you more precise information, leading to better, more informed decisions.
  • More accurate: Item-level RFID tags give highly accurate information and have less propensity for human error. In fact, according to RFID Journal, RFID can bring inventory accuracy up to 95% or better.

Convinced yet? If you decide to switch to RFID, there are a few considerations you should bear in mind: the implementation process and which solution provider you’ll choose.

10 steps for implementing item level RFID

As you start along your RFID implementation journey, here are 10 suggested steps for the process:

  1. Identify your implementation project team
  2. Begin any necessary manufacturer preparation, such as process changes
  3. Create and distribute an RFP for RFID vendors
  4. Select an RFID vendor and finalize the contract
  5. Determine any new equipment you’ll need and procure it
  6. Install and test new equipment and software
  7. Train employees on new processes and technology
  8. Start tagging items with RFID
  9. Gather data on tag performance, cost, lead times, etc. to measure improvement and determine future opportunities to enhance the process
  10. Resolve issues and provide further training as needed

Although your process will vary depending on your business needs, the suggested steps above can serve as a template to get you started.

Evaluation questions for an RFID tag provider

As you evaluate vendor proposals as part of the RFP process, here are some questions to ask a potential RFID tag solution provider:

  • How clearly does the vendor explain the details of their solution’s functionality?
  • Does their solution provide:
    • Fully integrated solution
    • Item-level visibility
    • Item-level accountability
    • Tailored processes and scalability
  • Does their solution enable you to:
    • Download open contract data from VIM-ASAP
    • Encode and print item-level tags in accordance with customer requirements
    • Encode and print case and pallet tags
    • Integrate into manual packing process within space specified
    • Programatically link item to case
    • Handle exceptions
    • Provide case to pallet link
    • Seamless upload to VIM-ASAP
  • Does the proposal meet implementation timelines?
  • Is the cost fixed or variable?
  • Is the solution architecture remote or local?

Learn more about vendor selection and RFID implementation in our Best Practice Guide to Implementing Item Level RFID.

The Odyssey cloud platform is a DoD-approved software that provides one integrated location for all your defense commerce tasks using passive RFID. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you take advantage of all the benefits of RFID technology.

Asset Tracking When You’re a Department of Defense Supplier

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 @ 11:10 AM

asset tracking.png

Keeping track of company assets can be difficult enough on its own, but asset tracking for DoD suppliers has its own set of unique challenges. However, the right tools and practices can make asset management easier and ensure compliance with federal standards.

What is asset tracking?

Asset tracking, sometimes referred to as asset management, is the process of tracking physical assets. Common asset tracking methods include barcodes, GPS, and RFID. Precise, consistent asset tracking is critical to any supplier’s bottom line because data about asset status influences decision-making, and because the cost of lost or missing assets can be substantial.

The main objective for any asset management system should be to control assets efficiently while minimizing asset loss. Software that delivers real-time asset tracking allows businesses to make decisions with up-to-the-minute data.

How is asset management different if you’re a DoD supplier?

Put simply, UID. Unique Identification (UID) and Item Unique Identification (IUID) are permanent marking methods for equipment and assets required by the DoD. All defense suppliers must use the UID tracking system.

Even before UID became mandatory for DoD suppliers in the early 2000s, some form of equipment asset tracking has been a prominent feature in US military operations since World War II. Learn more about the DoD’s asset management system in this article, A Brief History of DoD UID.

For suppliers like you, managing the UID tracking process can pose some challenges. You must create end-level UID, track assets previously marked with UID, embed IUID for parent/child pedigree assembly, monitor government-furnished property, and ensure compliance within the IUID registry. Each of these tasks uses its own data pathways and specialized software, putting the burden on you as a supplier to enter and integrate the data for each of your defense commerce transactions.

3 best practices for DoD supplier asset tracking

  1. Automate UID tasks. All of the UID-related tasks above can be automated and streamlined to eliminate user error and redundant processes. Use a cloud-based IUID transactional software like Odyssey’s to get the job done quickly and accurately.
  1. Ensure IUID compliance. The Department of Defense has mandated that all their suppliers must use the IUID system—so it’s in your best interest as a supplier to ensure you’re using it correctly. This is another area where technology can be your savior: Odyssey’s software is DoD-approved, and allows you to seamlessly manage all required IUID tasks and make sure you’re compliant.
  1. Use RFID for asset management when possible. Creating and managing UID to designate assets is one thing; the physical method you use to track said assets is another. When possible, leverage RFID labels for real-time asset tracking. Not only is RFID more efficient than more traditional tracking methods, like barcodes, this technology is able to provide asset data in real time. Up-to-the-minute data gives you the ability to make decisions with the most accurate information available.

Asset tracking can be a complex and arduous task for any supplier, but even more so for companies that work with the Department of Defense. The right technology can drastically simplify the process and make compliance with DoD standards easier.

Want to learn more about how Odyssey can help you manage DoD asset tracking, IUID compliance, and other DoD commerce requirements? Get in touch with us to request a personalized demo of our software.

5 SAM.gov Best Practices for DoD Suppliers

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 @ 14:10 PM

using SAM best practices to register on the system for award management website.png


As the saying goes, “Winning is the science of being totally prepared.” Winning defense contracts is no different.

According to the Small Business Administration’s guide to proposal writing for government contracts, the best way to prepare to win is by “understanding the process, aligning skills with needs and following through. In other words, prepare, align and execute – that will help you beat the odds.” Your first step is registering your business on the government contracts website, SAM.gov.

A quick refresher on SAM

What is SAM? The System for Award Management (referred to as SAM or SAM.gov) is the federal government’s database of potential vendors. All federal agencies, civilian or military, use the SAM database as their primary source of information about suppliers they might work with. State agencies, local governments, and prime contractors also use SAM to find vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors.

How does SAM work? To sell products or services to or receive payments from the federal government, your business must first register on SAM.gov. Creating a solid SAM profile is a foundational step to participating in any bid process with the Department of Defense or other agencies.

Why is SAM important? As a potential supplier, the SAM database serves as federal contract officers’ first impression of your business – almost like your firm’s resume. That’s why it’s important to follow best practices when creating and maintaining your SAM profile. Experts estimate that at least 20% of all company profiles currently listed in the SAM database contain mistakes, ranging from spelling errors, miscoded entries, and missing information. Such errors can cause businesses to be passed over for DoD contracts because their incomplete SAM record makes them difficult to find in a database search, or because contract officers recognize a lack of attention to detail.

5 best practices for using SAM.gov

  1. Get organized. Before registering in the SAM database, make sure you have the following items on hand:
  • The TIN/EIN for your business; even if you’re a sole proprietor, it’s wise to register using one of these numbers instead of your Social Security Number to protect your identity
  • The appropriate PSC/FSC and NAICS codes for your business, which the government uses to classify every product and service
  • Your firm’s DUNS number, which can be obtained for free from Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B)

You’ll also want to determine whether your business qualifies as an 8(a), HUBZone, woman-owned, or service-disabled veteran-owned small business. Federal contracts of less than $150,000 are frequently awarded to small businesses, and DoD contract officers often give preference to the types of businesses above.

  1. Know your competition. To understand what you’re up against, put yourself in the mindset of a contract officer who might need your product or service. Search the SAM database as if you were looking for a vendor, and take note of the results. What keywords brought up companies similar to yours? What information do your potential competitors include in their SAM profiles? Keep this competitive intelligence in mind as you create and edit your own profile.
  1. Complete your SAM registration. Your SAM profile is your first impression with the DoD and other federal contract officers. As you register, keep in mind what potential buyers are looking for in a vendor. Make sure all relevant fields are completed. If your firm is a woman-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone or 8(a) small business, make sure to fill out the proper registration information to include this fact in your profile. You can also add supplemental information to the Small Business Administration database, which can be searched from SAM.

In addition, use the insights you gathered about your competition, and consider which keywords a searcher might use – and the fact that they might be different than the words you use to describe your company or your products.

  1. Keep your SAM registration updated. You’re required to update your SAM profile at least once a year. For this annual update, seek feedback from your peers on how they would improve your profile. If you’ve won DoD contracts in the past year, find out if any of the contract officers you worked with have suggestions for improving your SAM registration. Defense contract officers value working with vendors that have prior experience with the DoD.
  1. Rely on a defense commerce solution for the next steps of the process. Getting found through the SAM.gov website is just the beginning. As a DoD supplier, you’ll face constantly changing requirements and redundant processes across unrelated government websites and systems, which can lead to inefficiencies and lost profits. Using a software solution to automate and integrate these processes will provide better efficiency, visibility and flexibility.

Putting thought and effort into creating and maintaining your SAM profile will help you get found and considered by DoD contract officers. Odyssey’s software automates the process of interacting with the DoD’s purchasing, receiving and payment agencies, streamlining your workflow and giving you more transparency. Learn more about how our cloud-based software can help you work your DoD contracts more efficiently – get in touch with us today.

How Big Data Will Affect Your Supply Chain

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 @ 14:09 PM

supply chain.jpg

Big data is a hot topic, but one of its most promising applications is in supply chain management. Leveraging big data to inform and automate your supply chain, especially for Department of Defense suppliers, is the next step to increasing your efficiency and reducing your long-term spend. Here are 7 ways that big data will affect your supply chain.

Full Automation

What if you had insight into your entire supply chain? And what if your supply chain ran itself? That’s the kind of future we’re talking about by using the Internet of Things through RFID technology to bring big data to your supply chain. Increasing automation means time savings, compliance assurance to meet DoD standards, and a supply chain that’s flexible enough to adjust to market changes.

Last-Mile Delivery

Traditionally the last mile of delivery has been a patchwork of outside carriers, transportation, and deliveries. Aligning big data with your supply means that you know where your products are at all times, ultimately offering insight into your entire supply chain.

Responsive Operations

By tapping into your data, you have the ability to be more responsive to changes in DoD requirements and in your environment. Project scope changed? Big weather front coming in? With full visibility and a connected supply chain, you can shift your operations easily. You’ll spend less time potentially fixing issues and more time optimizing your supply chain and ultimately getting paid.

Route Optimization

Even in our digital world, transportation is still time-consuming and expensive. Delivering products to different locations isn’t easy, and the expectations for smart supply chains are increasing. Connecting the Internet of Things to your supply chain means that you can optimize how you transport your products and get the right products to the right locations as efficiently as possible.

Address Verification

While our goods are connected and our data is abundant, delivery can still present a challenge. We’re at the mercy of systems that require physical addresses to deliver our goods and services. Leveraging big data and RFID to verify these addresses can reduce points of human error and introduce additional efficiency.

Risk Evaluation & Resilience Planning

Increased visibility and flexibility throughout your supply chain means that your operations are more structurally sound. Your risk is lowered, your ability to meet DoD compliance standards is increased, and you can plan for long-term complications that might affect your supply chain.

Contextual Intelligence

Amassing large amounts of data isn’t enough anymore. Having a contextual understanding of that real-time data and tying it into your business operations is what drives the most value for DoD suppliers. By connecting big data to your supply chain, you have the opportunity to gain a complete, holistic vision of your business and introduce additional efficiency into your supply chain.

In order to take advantage of these benefits of big data, you must have the ability to properly identify your supply chain structure as well as your sources of data. A smart implementation takes into account your entire operations process as well as your assets and internal stakeholders. While these are just a few ways that big data will affect your supply chain, Odyssey can help you implement these concepts so you can take advantage of the benefits of using big data to inform your supply chain logistics. Contact us today to learn how our cloud-based software can help prepare you for the next evolution of supply chain operations.




Topics: RFID, IoT, data, supply chain

Machine Learning and Industrial Internet of Things

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 @ 14:09 PM


Machine Learning IoT.jpeg

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? If you’re like many people, you reach for your phone. You turn off your alarm clock, check the news, and review your email. All of this creates a digital presence that tells a story about your world. The digital world has become a seamless part of our lives, and it’s no different for businesses. All of your systems work together to tell a story, whether it’s about inventory, manufacturing, or people. Your world is connected by bytes and coding, and it’s only becoming more prevalent. The data we create is growing at an astronomical pace, and our ability to tap into the potential of our digital world is based on how we analyze that data.

We create a lot of data. By 2020, the digital universe is projected to grow to 44 trillion gigabytes. IoT embedded systems are expected to account for 10% of the digital universe by 2020, and the containers from those systems (like digital files, RFID tags and sensor files) will become 99% of all of the files in the digital universe (IDC, The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things). It’s more than data now; your connected devices are communicating in real-time to create a digital picture of your operations.

The rise of IoT.

None of this is news. In 2016, less than 40% of organizations surveyed had completed at least some kind of IoT implementation. That number is predicted to grow to over 80% by 2020 (Bain & Company, How Providers Can Succeed in the Internet of Things). IoT is quickly becoming the norm, and teams that are able to successfully implement these solutions stand to increase productivity and reduce costs. In fact, 47% of organizations implemented IoT solutions to improve quality of service or product, leading to price premium, lower support costs and 44% did it to increase reliability of operations (Bain & Company, How Providers Can Succeed in the Internet of Things).

This market is only growing. B2B IoT connections are projected to increase to 5.4 billion by 2020. That’s about one device for every two people on the planet. The organizations that leverage these connections are expected to be 10% more profitable (SparkLabs Global Ventures, Internet of Things & Hardware Industry Overview 2016). Can you imagine such a huge boost from such tiny devices?

The use of IoT by businesses is expected to drive $964 billion in spending this year. By 2020, hardware spending is projected to increase to almost $3 trillion for both business and consumers (Gartner, Forecast: Internet of Things). On top of that, the Industrial IoT market is expected to grow to $319.6 billion by 2020 (SparkLabs Global Ventures, Internet of Things & Hardware Industry Overview 2016). These devices represent a significant investment for any organization, but the return can be huge. Many Department of Defense suppliers have already seen the benefits.

A lost opportunity.  

Unfortunately, many organizations are not realizing the full potential of their IoT investment. McKinsey Global Institute predicted in 2011 that the manufacturing industry could see up to a 50% lower product development cost, 25% lower operating cost, and a 30% gross margin increase. As of 2016, only 20-30% of that predicted value as been captured (McKinsey Global Institute, The Age of Analytics: Competing in a Data-Driven World). While labor and workforce integration is part of the issue, much of the barrier remains in computing power.

 Just about .5% of that data is ever analyzed (MIT Technology Review, The Data Made Me Do It). Think about that. Even with such a huge investment and an even bigger opportunity for optimization, IoT is not yet driving the data revolution.

 Driving efficiency with machine learning.

 Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning. By 2019, cognitive/AI capabilities will support 40% of all digital transformation initiatives and 100% of all effective IoT efforts. (IDC, IDC FutureSpace: Dawn of the DX Economy and the Digital-Native Enterprise). This technology presents an opportunity to improve regulatory compliance, reduce risk, improve decision-making and operating efficiency, and enhance security. 79% of executives report that AI will make their jobs more efficient and easier (The Economist Intelligence Unit, Artificial Intelligence in the Real World).

 We’ve moved beyond simple data analytics in both our personal and our professional lives. In order to stay ahead of our competition, we must take advantage of current technologies and prepare for the future. Odyssey can help you leverage these emerging trends and ensure that you’re prepared for the future of business. Contact us today to learn how integrating cloud-based solutions for DoD suppliers can help you drive efficiency and compliance.

Topics: Internet of Things, data, machine learning

Everything You Need to Know About Electronic Data Interchange

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 @ 16:08 PM


What is EDI?

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, is commonly defined as the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between business partners. The process allows a company to send information to another company electronically and in a standard electronic format, rather than using paper, snail-mail and fax machines.

Because EDI documents are processed electronically, all documents must be in a standard format. Without a standard format, each company would send documents using its own format and, much like a human speaking a foreign language, the receiver’s computer system doesn’t understand the sender’s company-specific format.

Many business documents can be exchanged using EDI, but the two most common are purchase orders and invoices. Other examples of business documents exchanged via EDI are advance ship notices, inventory documents, shipping status documents and more.

What are the benefits of EDI?

In order to grow and compete with other businesses, it is crucial for companies of all sizes to implement EDI. Those who have moved away from a paper-based exchange of business documents to EDI have experienced major benefits.

Increased Efficiency

  • Paper purchase orders can take up to 10 days from the time the buyer prepares the order to when the supplier ships it. EDI orders can take as little as one day.
  • Automating paper-based tasks allows your staff to concentrate on higher-value tasks and enables them to be more productive.
  • Electronic data exchange ensures that business-critical data is always up-to-date and can be tracked in real time. Real-time data can lead to more accurate decision making.

Reduced Cost

  • Transaction costs are reduced by about 35% when cutting out expenses related to paper, printing, reproduction, storage, filing, postage and document retrieval, according to EDI Basics.
  • Studies have consistently shown that manually processing a paper-based order can cost $70 or more, while processing an EDI order costs less than one dollar. 

Reduced Errors

  • According to EDI Basics, automating the process improves data quality, delivering at least a 30-40% reduction in transactions with errors—eliminating errors from illegible handwriting, lost faxes/mail and keying and rekeying errors.

Additionally, EDI promotes corporate social responsibility by replacing paper-based processes with electronic alternatives. Your company can save money and reduce its CO2 emissions at the same time. 

How can Odyssey help? 

We’ve designed our services with the DoD supplier in mind, and we want to help you move toward a streamlined process.

Most of the high-volume contracting vehicles, such as FedMall, General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), are moving toward Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) because of all the benefits we listed above. However, many small businesses don’t have EDI capabilities. And while some companies aren’t experiencing the stringent label requirements, you can bet they are coming. It is important for small businesses to use a platform that is easily adaptable and is also able to provide them with EDI services.

You don’t have to be an EDI expert to complete your transactions. Odyssey takes the pain out of EDI implementation by delivering easy-to-use, scalable and affordable EDI solutions. We also provide responsive technical support and ongoing customer service to help your company overcome any challenges.

Odyssey’s sole business is developing workflow process solutions for Department of Defense suppliers. This specificity is unique, which allows us to focus on your company’s success. We are committed to our partners and provide continual development and forward thinking solutions that help you overcome the challenging aspects of daily DoD commerce.

Contact us today to discuss your EDI needs.

Topics: DoD approved software, dod compliance, EDI, Electronic Data Interchange