Supply chains - from the very first step of a product or service development, through sourcing, manufacture, logistics and sale - are a treasure trove of invaluable information. Centralising your processes via a robust, optimised SCM (Supply Chain Management) system is step one in transforming this data into profitability.
The next step is harnessing the data generated across your supply chain (and beyond) to ensure that your consensus plan reflects true market demand and is able to respond to fluctuations that may occur due to unforeseen events.
Achieving supply chain visibility
End-to-end transparency, analysis and efficiency is widely accepted to be driven by these three best practice pillars:
Real time access to data
The ability to quickly adapt and respond to new information
Intelligent systems that automate order flows
With these elements of supply chain analysis in place, businesses undoubtedly position themselves to understand their existing supply chain via the information it generates. However, there’s another step in this process that’s often overlooked as many companies don’t know it exists. It can extend an organisation’s visibility beyond what is happening now, to what’s around the corner and how that might impact the flow of products throughout the supply chain.
Supply chain analysis and Big Data
The world of commerce is undergoing what some describe as a “data-driven revolution”. Online operations, which have been adopted by most businesses through necessity, mean that data is being generated and collected at an unprecedented rate - every day. However, most Demand Planners and Supply Chain Managers are not data scientists, and without the right tools at their fingertips, the secrets and insights of these huge data sets remain hidden.
The right power in the right hands
There is undoubtedly fear surrounding the rise of Artificial Intelligence as people understandably question the threat it poses to their roles in life. But Machine Learning, combined with Big Data and some clever technology design, can empower professionals to do their jobs better. A clear and customisable dashboard that presents insights in an easily-digestible way, while predicting and forecasting demand in real time (not just according to business data, but millions of data points from hundreds of sources across the internet) can be extremely powerful in the right hands.
Technology can drive more informed, accurate decision making capability across a supply chain, which means greater efficiencies to companies - and better value for consumers. A fully-integrated, intelligent digital system can also deal with far greater complexity than a human / spreadsheet combination, freeing people up to focus on more profitable endeavours than data entry and formula application.
Once a business has achieved full supply chain visibility, can perform end-to-end analysis and is able to quickly adapt and respond to anomalies that occur both inside and outside of the chain, it should start working towards integrating its ERM and CRM with its SCM.