Every supply chain is data driven these days. However, not all data driven supply chains are enjoying the same level of visibility, applying the same level of analytics or accomplishing the same level of efficiency gains or profitability. That is because, as my colleague Brad Huff pointed out recently, most supply chains have yet to integrate a supply chain orchestration solution into their naturally very messy IT architecture. For example, most organizations have on boarded a host of business systems that are rife with rich data – either through mergers & acquisitions or as part of their digital transformations.
However, most will admit that no single system has been able to facilitate complete supply chain orchestration because most systems create more data and functional silos rather than eliminate them.
Including those labeled as “supply chain management” (SCM) solutions. As a result, supply chains of every size and in every industry are struggling to make heads from tails of the data that is being captured, managed and even analyzed. Probably even yours. The good news is that there is a very easy way to address this common issue: a supply chain orchestration engine that is designed to power your entire digital supply chain ecosystem and ensure every part of your business is operating at peak performance levels, no matter how complex it may be.
In fact, analysts such as IDC and Gartner are now advising clients to take a close look at the exclusive benefits of supply chain orchestration platforms, (which differ from traditional supply chain management platforms). As Gartner has noted: “One of the differentiating factors of a high-performance digital business is participation in a digital ecosystem.” That is because “digital ecosystem adoption seems to offer enhanced market access, and thus is a medium for more rapid innovation and greater productivity growth.” Yet, for most organizations, digital supply chain ecosystems remain elusive. Existing systems are not integrated (or well integrated) with one another, which compounds the data silo dilemma and delays any return on investment for more advanced digital technologies. (Learn more about the root cause of data silos, and their detrimental effect on your digital transformation, here.)
However, supply chain orchestration platforms (unlike traditional supply chain management platforms) directly integrate into the core of your existing IT architecture to technologically unify organizations many ERP, WMS, TMS, and back-office systems and generate a single stream of aggregated, and completely accurate, data. This simplifies the distribution of actionable intelligence to both high- and low-volume suppliers while providing manufacturers, trading partners and distributors with a reliable and low-cost way to collaborate in real time. All of which improves supply chain execution and responsiveness to changes in demand while eliminating wasteful redundancies and improving cost efficiencies.
How Supply Chain Orchestration Delivers a Greater ROI for Data Driven Organizations, Starting with Individual Stakeholder Performance Gains
With a supply chain orchestration platform, your entire supply chain ecosystem receives all data in real time in an easily digestible format that is relevant to their function. In other words, every worker – regardless of role – will have the means to take a deep dive into the complete set of (clean) data currently available within your supply chain or up-level the data to see “big picture”, both of which are critical to making the decisions and taking the actions that are best for your business and your customers.
For example, the right supply chain orchestration platform will empower every single person in your digital supply chain ecosystem to improve the quality of their work and increase their output, which will improve the overall quality and output of your entire organization:
- Demand Planners Will Be Able to Generate (Nearly) Perfect Business Forecasts – While it is still impossible to predict the future, supply chain orchestration technologies provide the clean, aggregated data sets needed to significantly improve demand planning accuracy and generate spot-on forecasts with predictive analytics tools.
- Procurement Will Be Able to Streamline Sourcing and Make Smarter Sourcing Decisions – The visibility gained due to the real-time distribution of an aggregated data set enables buyers to better manage supplier performance and justify sourcing actions. Since SCO platforms are synced with all internal and external supply chain systems, procurement can flag delayed response times or quality control issues to adjust sourcing strategies. Plus, an SCO platform gives you and your trading partners the tools to accelerate production timelines via highly automated, ERP-synced procurement actions.
- Line of Business Managers Can Excel With their Well-Executed Engineering, Production and Logistics Operations – Whether you are trying to execute a Just In Time manufacturing model; minimize “miscommunications” with suppliers about component design; or refine picking, packing and shipping processes to eliminate errors you need the clean and complete data sets that can only be generated with the help of a supply chain orchestration engine.
- Your Leadership Team (CIO, CTO, CEO, etc.) Will Be Able to Deliver More Accurate Risk Assessments and Reduce Your Organization’s Risk Burden – When you have deep, real-time visibility into your supply chain, it is easy to identify, assess and manage risks across all aspects of your operation, including internal and external factors such as supplier delays, market volatility or quality issues.
- Finance Will Be Able to Identify New Revenue Opportunities – According to the Dun & Bradstreet/Forbes Insights 2017 Enterprise Analytics Study, “63% in the finance function said they are using data and analytics to find new opportunities to fund business growth…” and “60% of finance executives say they use data to help drive long-term strategic planning.” However, growth opportunities can easily be overlooked when finance professionals are forced to use fragmented or outdated data sets to inform their recommendations. This makes them highly dependent on the quality intelligence only accessible in an SCO-powered supply chain.
To put it another way, organizations that utilize a central supply chain orchestration “engine” to manage and distribute data enjoy a scalable, robust, and customizable environment that enables the development of digital solutions built around business need, rather than technical limitations. Even better, you do not have to overhaul your IT architecture or re-engineer business processes to quickly identify and resolve operational expense (OpEx) pain points, mitigate supply chain disruptions or enjoy widespread efficiency gains. The best SCO engines will give you an immediate and cost-efficient way to make quick adjustments to meet revenue targets. If layered with workflow modules that create a manage-by-exception environment, a supply chain orchestration engine can also facilitate an automated order life cycle that improves cycle times and supply chain efficiency, which ultimately contributes to bottom line gains – the ultimate business benefit.