B2B efforts are now three decades old; yet, the primary mechanisms are based on manual efforts. The dependency on spreadsheets is limiting the evolution of supply chain visibility. EDI is the backbone of today's visibility, but the future of visibility will change dramatically through blockchain. -Lora Cecere, Founder, Supply Chain Insights
Visibility is worth the investment. Improved supply chain visibility correlates to value (Price to Tangible Book). Supply chains are more complex.
Here are three steps to take:
1. Define Priorities and Align Solutions. While EDI is effective in the management of transactional data, it is important for companies to document requirements for supply chain visibility for transportation, sourcing and manufacturing. This includes planning and unstructured data. These are very different by visibility type and by tier of relationship.
2. Get Clear on What You Are Doing Today. Document the “As Is” and the “To Be” States. Most manufacturers are not clear on what they are doing today. The documentation of the “as is” condition is usually eye-opening. Most companies overstate their current performance. The goal is to have transactions flow hands-free and to have the right data for the right person in the supply chain when they need it.
3. Align IT Strategies with the Future Goals. Line of business leaders need to work with IT to align IT spending and future plans for supply chain visibility. This needs to include the rationalization of ERP spending, the maximization of private networks (where available) and the qualification of new forms of public supply chain visibility solutions.
The implementation of supply chain visibility grows more important with outsourcing and the building of supply chain relationships in the extended network. IT programs are not aligned to close the gap and blockchain offers promise.
Improving supply chain visibility is critical as supply chains grow more complex. ERP-to-ERP connectivity is not the answer. EDI is the workhorse of visibility today, but it is not equal to the task of real-time connectivity with bi-directional flows. Leaders will pave a new path using blockchain.
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