How HMD global is transforming logistics through artificial intelligence and increased visibility
Noha Samara, Head of Customer Logistics, started her career as an electronics engineer before finding her footing in the supply chain function where she has spent most of her career. Having worked at various companies such as Procter and Gamble and Microsoft, she settled in 2016 at HMD Global as the business began its journey.
Samara explains that HMD global is a unique Finnish startup founded in 2016. HMD Global designs and delivers innovative and trusted products to bring back one of the most loved and trusted brands globally, as the sole licensee of the Nokia brand.
In its first year of operations, the company became a unicorn startup with offices in 50 countries. “Our vision is to make mobile technology accessible for all, with devices that continue to evolve for the better. This is our brand promise; the promise we're keeping, today, for all our Android phones. According to Counterpoint’s research, nearly 96% of Nokia smartphones are already running on Android Pie or have had an Android Pie update issued to them, making it the fastest brand to reach this level. Unlike any other Android phones out there, all of Nokia smartphones will benefit from regular security updates for three years, OS updates for two years and will come with the latest Google designed software and innovations, from AI to security. This promise is what sets us apart from other brands in the market. We believe in purposeful innovation and not just innovation for the sake of innovating, and this mindset fuels our determination to provide devices that are accessible to anyone and to be among the top five mobile sellers in the world.”
Since its inception, Samara feels evolution has been a constant for the firm. “HMD Global has a very dynamic culture, we are passionate about challenging the status quo.” Since 2016, the company has launched more than 30 new phones, receiving the title of number one feature phones player and ranking among the top five smartphone players in the MENA region. Moreover, the company is very proud to have been recently ranked on the top world’s 25 fastest growing brands of the past five years and 2nd best performing in Europe. Through its partnerships with Verizon and Cricket Wireless, the company has also expanded into North America. With these global expansions HMD Global has adopted a multi ODM strategy to meet demands and improve competitiveness.
The importance of end-to-end visibility
When it comes to HMD Global’s logistics operations, “end-to-end visibility is critical for our business,” says Samara. “It enables us to make more informed decisions at exactly the right time, in a dynamic and agile industry.” In its efforts to achieve 100% end-to-end visibility, HMD global has been investing in the development of internal systems. “To provide such service and visibility, we think it is best to have the latest cloud ERP system. We have developed both a global and regional dashboard to provide visibility to internal stakeholders, in addition to developing a supply chain system for both distributors and retailers to conduct order placement, processing, shipment tracking and invoicing.”
Artificial intelligence and automation in logistics
Samara emphasises that regional markets are being driven by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). “New and innovative technologies are already impacting the existing supply chain operating models. With this digitisation of the supply chain, companies are able to address customers’ evolving requirements. In recent months, we have seen a rise in customers expecting these technologies to be in the palm of their hands.” Currently, the company is utilising automation and AI within its internal operations as well as in its devices. “We use automation in our dashboards, customer reporting, SKU planning, shipment planning and supply allocation planning,” Samara elaborates.
MENA is a dynamic region for logistics, and Samara emphasises the importance of a standardised global framework strategy that leaves room for flexibility and agility for the specific requirements of each region. “For example, automation varies across customers and distributors. Therefore, we need to be aware of the levels of flexibility and capability available. To combat this challenge we need to jointly develop and build both our capability and the customers’ in order to find solutions that allow us to be compatible together.”
The challenges of innovation
When it comes to the challenge of innovation, Samara explains that remaining relevant is a core challenge. In order to combat this challenge, HMD Global “tracks the latest innovations and encourages the teams to attend global conferences. HMD Global works to stimulate new ideas that can be implemented within the business.” Samara explains that the company has implemented bi-weekly meetings to discuss current projects for data and innovation changes that need to be implemented. “In these meetings we also encourage our employees to put forward innovative ideas that grow the business. This ensures that the rhythm of change and the rhythm of the business are always dynamic and touching the needs, issues and changes that need to be addressed.”
Reflecting on the company, Samara attributes the company’s success to its passion, entrepreneurial mindset and its partnerships with other organisations. “We have a wide reach across multiple regions and continents, hence why we rely heavily on our logistics partners whom we work with closely to ensure on time deliveries for all of our markets. For example, Agility is one of our biggest logistics partners in the MENA region. We have built together a supply network design that meets our business aspirations of growth in our different markets where they are operating our Hub DC in Hong Kong”
Ultimately, we are building partnerships to last. With our partners, such as Agility, DHL, and DB Schenker, we have a clear set of mutual and aligned KPIs, goals and objectives that we share. We consider them as one of our driving forces for success and a window to new markets. Ultimately, the more we grow, the more they will also grow.