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It‘s always been important to have an eye on the horizon and anticipate what’s coming, but growing supply chain complexity has made that even more difficult.
On the other hand, we’ve never had so much data at our fingertips, ready to be analyzed and harvested for insight. The big question is how do we marry this disparate web of partners and systems to establish the holistic view we need? And how do we turn that raw data into actionable insights that improve business?
Growing Supply Chain Complexity
For a product to reach today’s customer, it will typically pass through many different stages and be handled by a multitude of different partners. As companies have acted to expand their distribution reach or their product selection to satisfy customer demand, many have found themselves relying more on third parties to help them execute. Efficiently handling inventory that’s spread across warehouses, retailers, 3PLs and suppliers is a challenge — to say the least.
Managing by Exception With Supply Chain Orchestration
The principle of exception management is widely accepted. It makes sense to automate systems that are capable of handling the usual variations in daily operations. Supply chain orchestration enables you to do precisely that. You can establish parameters and potential fulfilment routes for any order — and 99 percent of the time, the process can be automated to fall within cost and customer expectations.
That other 1 percent is the exception that requires swift attention. Supply chain orchestration frees you and allows you to focus on managing these exceptions. When an order is going to fall outside acceptable parameters, the relevant people are automatically alerted and presented with potential options — enabling them to take decisive action. The potential business benefits are great. And what if you could go one step further?
Staying Ahead of the Game
With supply chain orchestration, you also have a means to capture, visualize and analyze all the data you’re collecting from your network of internal and external parties. Predictive analytics tools can use your current and historical data to help anticipate events, avoid risks and create new solutions. These tools could be combined and integrated with any number of data sources available today — like connected IoT devices, for instance. Anything with a data source that impacts demand can be stirred into the analytical mix.
The potential here is to go beyond firefighting to proactively mitigate risk. Predictive analytics can alert you to potential issues before they become problems. Granular insight and control gives you the power to reroute individual order journeys to avoid developing problems — while warning you about potential obstacles in real time.
Armed with these insights, your company experts can more proactively assess possible outliers and exceptions to ensure that service standards remain as high as possible. This kind of visibility and control goes beyond top-notch responsiveness. It has the potential to help you solve issues before they fully develop — reducing risk and waste, ensuring maximum efficiency and delivering high levels of customer satisfaction.
With supply chain orchestration, you can create a feedback loop that will hone your supply chain into a model of operational excellence that meets your targets for cost and customer service.
Martin Verwijmeren is co-founder and chief executive officer of MP Objects.
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