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Cohesio Group CEO Nishan Wijemanne with the leadership team: “Our strategy has always been a perfect combination of growth and success via partnerships, innovation and collaboration”

Shaking up the logistics industry

In the latest of an occasional series, FTD talks to Nishan Wijemanne, CEO of Cohesio Group, a tech provider in the logistics space that is shaking up the sector with its smart solutions.

FTD: How did it all start?

Nishan Wijemanne (NW):

Cohesio Group started out as VoiceID in early 2014, providing voice technology. We saw a gap in the market for innovative tech solutions, as well as an overall value proposition. 

The industry had providers that offered traditional barcode scanning solutions and voice technology, which was only really being applied to optimising the ‘pick path’ in supply chain and logistics environments. The available technology was only affordable by large enterprises, such as the larger FMCG companies and third-party logistics providers. Plus, the process was often very long and costly to integrate. Cost-effectiveness and applications of such technology to suit the mainstream market were rare.

Cohesio Group CEO Nishan Wijemanne with the leadership team: “Our strategy has always been a perfect combination of growth and success via partnerships, innovation and collaboration”

Cohesio Group was a disruptor. We introduced our own software and a flexible framework which made it possible for technology such as voice to be integrated seamlessly into legacy systems. 

From an innovation perspective, there simply wasn’t enough innovation happening in the market. We set out to make innovation a cornerstone of Cohesio Group. Although a bootstrapping start-up, we invested in innovation right from the start, be it acquiring and welcoming a talent pool that embraced innovation, or ensuring that our team were given the opportunity to learn new skills to help them find new tech and solutions for the market. This approach continues to this day; we even have a pool of investment funds that we apply to developing and trialling new technology. 

Apart from being a breath of fresh air and a champion of innovation in supply chain and retail tech, we believed in strong partnerships with industry suppliers as well customers, and treated everyone on a level playing field, regardless of size. This reduced the traditional boundaries that exist between various relationships and layers within a business, and we believe it was this attitude that allowed us to acquire customers such as Kmart and The Reject Shop in our first year of operation.

FTD: What’s been one of your key secrets to success?

NW: 

Without a doubt, it has been our people. Right from the start, we set out to build a highly capable team of professionals with skill-sets and experience across enterprise mobility and related technologies. This is one aspect of the business that I’ve worked really hard on, and while I might be the frontman for the business, it’s the team behind me that make everything work.

Our team members come from across Australia and New Zealand and we’re very proud to call ourselves ‘local’. Our solutions too have been developed for ANZ businesses, and while we have several large blue-chip customers, we also work with the smaller enterprises too. Our solutions undergo regular updates with new features to ensure they are always well above standard.

FTD: Where do you add the most value for a customer?

NW: 

Cohesio Group has successfully busted the traditional mind-set of the distribution supply chain that the warehousing end needs to be treated differently to the retail storefront. We’ve simply joined the two to add value to the entire chain by creating solutions that deliver seamless communication and process optimisation between the two ends. 

This not only creates more visibility across the chain where the actual movement of goods takes place, but also adds tremendous value to every milestone in between where better decisions could be made. For example, our retail software ignito connects seamlessly with the warehouse management system which reflects greatly on the end consumer’s experience. 

Our value is also in introducing new technology that’s easy to use, automates manual tasks such as order fulfilment or stock taking, and also creates visibility. All our solutions work end to end, rather than in silos for just warehousing, or freight, or retail storefronts.

FTD: What’s next for the company?

NW:

Cohesio Group’s strategy has always been a perfect combination of growth and success via partnerships, innovation and collaboration, and ensuring our team remain the most experienced across the globe. We will continue to attract new partnerships and solidify existing ones to facilitate joint innovation and introduce new solutions to the market. 

Last year, Cohesio Group launched autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in partnership with Geek+ to power ANZ distribution centres with goods-to-person functionality. Our live sites already operating these AMRs have experienced improved floor operations, including item picking, transportation and processing through to generating warehouse layout reports. 

The markets slated for aggressive growth are retail and healthcare with the introduction of technologies such as drones and robotics. Upcoming solutions will target growth into this semi-automatic space. This includes us introducing automated workflows with the use of voice technology, Android Voice, into supply chain environments and adding complementing solutions into other growing verticals such as ‘back of retail stores’ and ‘front of retail stores’.

The key will be ensuring that supply chain and retail operations benefit from both the technology and business intelligence to make quick decisions. Our aim is to ensure all retailers benefit from the invaluable data and intelligence that our software gathers and use it to understand their customers’ buying behaviours and patterns so they can engage, promote and interact better with them. 

We know tech is the frontier of new opportunities – discovering how to leverage tech and actually implement it is our forte. We take leaps of faith into new technology and retrofitting existing technology to provide new areas of development and growth for our clients. 

Our investment and passion for innovation continues to grow as we strive to push traditional boundaries to deliver compelling solutions and results.


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