Cloud technology allows users to configure software packages for their specific needs, even though they reside on an outside server and are accessed by multiple users, says French. In the process, systems remain relevant to the customer's needs, even as they change over the years. Configurability can prove especially valuable to third-party logistics providers, who can set up multiple clients within their systems.
"The future looks good for cloud technology," says French. "I would say it's certainly a big value."
Access to timely and accurate data remains critically important within any system, French says. "Most companies do not capture the detail that you want to get to, in order to do this correctly," he says. Factors to consider include transportation cost, inventory turns and order-cycle time. The last is defined as "from the minute you place an order to when it's consumed by the [buyer]."
Yet another challenge is the integration of information-technology systems. "It's a lot less complicated than it used to be," says French, although companies can still find it tough to ensure the real-time transfer of information.
Again, the cloud can be of assistance, although not all applications are adopting the technology at the same rate. Transportation-management system software is well-established in the cloud, while warehouse-management systems continue to lag, in part because they tend to be designed for specific facilities. Still, French believes that virtually every type of software application can benefit from being placed in the cloud.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, SaaS, cloud supply chain, third party logistics, logistics management, supply chain systems, transportation management systems, TMS, warehouse management systems, WMS
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