The Changing Role of Supply Chain and Logistics in Sprint
30 years have passed since the forum for the global system for mobile communications (GSM) deployed protocols for the second-generation digital cellular networks (2G), and the industry is ready for the fifth generation. Sprint Corporation, the ninth largest telecommunications company in the world; or fourth largest together with the SoftBank companies, is among the leading network operators attempting to secure a prime position with the rolling out of 5G.
Sprint, which has stabilized and grown tremendously post its acquisition by Japan’s SoftBank in 2013, is expected to turn out multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), an advanced technology hailed as the foundation of 5G. This is expected to increase data speed and capacity, starting from customers in Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles, and eventually spread to the markets of Houston, Atlanta and Washington DC.
At the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC), Sprint was awarded the 2018 Global Mobile Award for Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough for the Sprint Magic Box. Recognized as the first ever completely wireless small cell that improves data coverage and improves upload and download speeds significantly, this small cell technology aids faster and quicker mobile coverage. Sprint Magic Box shows how the company’s strategy on innovation, customer focus, partnership, technology leverage and end-to-end supply chain management have been beneficial.
Since the major transformation in Sprint in 2015, the company has reduced its costs by several billion dollars—device supply chain transformation and collaboration are an essential part of this process. While initially, the company aimed to build a solid device sourcing structure and an efficient team, they have gradually created a unified supply chain including forward and reverse logistic elements. Sprint’s unified supply chain is incorporated across all the elements of corporate strategy and supports fundamental consumer demand at extremely low costs. This facilitates, across channels, a seamless customer journey while providing a consistent experience across channels. However, this requires extensive information and tracking for delivering various service level choices.
Sprint is also known for its device leasing, which requires agile and smooth logistic operation which makes reverse logistics very important. Rapid evolution is necessary to keep up with the used devices returned in reverse logistics operation. While this process has been challenging for service providers, automation is now being used in increasing its reliability. This is not, however, a core function for Sprint, which usually works with logistics partners in processing these devices.
The supply chain has started playing a strategic role in Sprint over the years. As the company seeks to focus on customer experience while improving cost efficiency, the supply chain is a major concern in forward planning and strategy formulation.