The cloud enables collaboration among multiple partners, working together to execute a cohesive supply-chain strategy. "It's natural that you extend collaboration beyond the four walls," says Hubert. "Having pre-existing connections to carriers and manufacturers helps tremendously to reduce start-up costs."
A shared platform can be extremely valuable, but its true potential depends on the notion gaining momentum. "I think it is here," says Hubert. He believes that concerns over security in the cloud have been largely put to rest, although some sectors such as the banking industry continue to function under the old mentality.
Any logistics-oriented function that relates to collaboration can benefit from the cloud, Hubert says. Beyond that, there are substantial benefits for activities such as sales and operations planning, the creative use of patents and balancing of supply and demand. In addition the cloud can help to provide participants with real-time data on shipments, allowing them to determine the best mode, or to calculate their carbon footprint.
Warehouse-management systems have been relatively slow to embrace the cloud, in part because a warehouse is a self-enclosed facility. Nevertheless, Hubert believes cloud technology holds significant promise for the WMS area. It can help companies to determine the optimal price point for moving inventory, or to engage in dynamic pricing, which today "is becoming more and more of an issue."
For companies just beginning to explore the cloud, Hubert recommends starting with some "low-hanging fruit," such as basic dynamic routing guides. Companies can quickly begin saving money by minimizing their reliance on expensive expedited freight options.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, cloud supply chain, SaaS, sourcing solutions, supply chain planning, supply chain systems, inventory control, supplier management
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