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The functions that make up a global supply chain are currently "in various stages of performance maturity," says Martin. That makes it difficult for companies to build efficient, end-to-end supply chains, especially because of the "project-natured" disconnect between information-technology deployments and the way in which the larger business is evolving.
"Business has to continually re-deploy technology," said Martin. "The cost of it is huge. There is a process-based alignment that IT needs to be part of, as led by the business leadership and business operating system."
Many companies are still grappling with the "fractured" nature of their organizations. In the early stages of supply-chain maturity, they tend to buy functionally oriented applications that don't easily mesh with a company's larger goals. As a result, a single transaction might require the involvement of multiple departments, each with its own systems and methods of operation. "It goes way beyond a functional problem," says Martin. "There's a process layer that's missing."
The penalties for lacking proper alignment can be severe. They include a constant "churn" in information systems, as companies continually reconfigure the IT layer to adapt to changing business-process capabilities. Leaders in integration are utilizing a "decoupling layer" to create an information-management system that contains standardized data and is available to all parts of the organization. Some are deploying "control towers" which afford a high-level view of operations and harmonize key performance metrics. The strategy "allows business to call on that decision support," says Martin. "That's a new requirement."
A number of businesses have achieved success in this area, but "you won't get big companies to talk about it," says Martin. "It's such a competitive advantage."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain management IT, inventory management, inventory control, logistics management, supply chain systems, supply chain planning
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