“To integrate planning and execution, companies have to solve the 80-percent problem,” which means gaining access to the 80 percent of data and information that lies outside the walls of any one party in the supply chain, says Mark Cosway, vice president of industry sales at GT Nexus. “When this doesn’t happen, a lot of opportunities for positive bottom-line impacts are lost.”
Many attempts have been made to achieve this Holy Grail, without much success, Cosway says. Cloud-based solutions, however, may finally provide an answer. “This problem requires a conical data model because you need to build a grid of partner systems, where you are fusing together financial flows, physical flows and information flows into a single technology environment,” he says. The best way to do that is to leverage the cloud, because the cloud allows a single-page information model, Cosway explains.
“This is the LinkedIn and Facebook model, where you set up a network of friends and family who you invite to join your community. If you have status changes, you post those once in the cloud and everyone in the network gets them. In the supply chain, we have thousands of different objects that are constantly changing, so the paradigm shift is that, using a single-page information model, updates can be posted once in the cloud and everyone will be working off the same data object or information.”
While the cloud is the enabler, connecting and building the community is crucial, Cosway says. “You can have the best technology stack in the world, but without community it is basically useless. If you have the Facebook software, but no community, what value would it be? It’s the same thing in the supply chain. Building the community is the hard part.”
GT Nexus has partnered with Kinaxis to provide a cloud-based platform for its network solution, which Cosway says solves the 80 percent problem. “Kinaxis is the planning brain and GT Nexus is the nervous system, with information that can sense and respond as the plan is executed. It is a powerful combination, where everybody is on the same page and you have the ability to sense/respond/act very quickly to disruptions or changes in the plan.”
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