One top challenge that companies are facing today is the need to innovate the customer experience, with the help of new information technology, says Nadgouda. A second is the requirement for flexibility in responding to actual demand patterns, with the goal of “making our supply chains more predictive and proactive, instead of reactive.”
On the consumer side, more and more options are becoming available, mandating that providers become more creative in order to keep and grow market share. The question for supply-chain operations personnel: “How do you prepare your supply chain for the next big curve that customers are expecting around technology and logistics?”
Companies continue to strive for the Holy Grail of end-to-end supply-chain visibility. The key lies in one’s ability to acquire and integrate the necessary data. “I would start with integrating the data in all of the business applications that allow us to scale in future,” says Nadgouda. Many companies fail in their journey toward a demand-driven supply chain because they skip this step, he says. Efforts to create demand-driven networks remain underdeveloped, although the potential is high.
Yet another key step is integration with the customer, says Nadgouda. A mature sales and operations planning (S&OP) effort can be of great help in reaching that goal. Working with Kinaxis, Nimble Storage is close to achieving a simplified S&OP structure that extends across all regions. Nadgouda says it’s important to view the discipline not as a technology play, but as a collaborative process, with the goals of all partners closely aligned. “One framework is scalable and achievable,” he says.
Companies must ask whether they have enough visibility into their customers’ environments. Looking upstream, they must also be able to pass customer requirements on to suppliers, through effective mechanisms for communication. Technology can help, in the form of systems for forecasting and planning, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.
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