Achieving supply chain visibility isn't a matter of spending years to acquire a fixed view of suppliers, says Jack Dobson, commercial account lead with Palantir. It's about managing relationships that are in constant flux.
When it comes to achieving true supply chain visibility, the challenge is twofold, Dobson says. First, it’s about integrating data from multiple sources, without the need for a multi-year effort that delays the ability to translate that data into decisions. Second, the information that’s available to the executive is often not accessible to, or usable by, individuals on the ground — those who are making the day-to-day decisions. “If you can’t deploy supply chain transparency,” Dobson says, “you’re never going to empower decision-making.”
Information systems need to account for the fact that supply chains are in constant flux. “You need a framework that’s reactive,” says Dobson, nothing that no one can predict what the next shock or disruption will be. The key lies in being able to react quickly to whatever happens.
Further challenges arise with the multi-tier nature of global supply chains. Many nominal partners aren’t willing to share internal data with other providers. Some kind of data-sharing agreement is needed, which can take months if not years to put into place. In the meantime, says Dobson, companies need a common technology or platform that can connect the data generated by all players.
Having supply chain transparency isn’t the end of the story. Such capability has to translate into real action by business users who might not be a technology-savvy as those in upper management.
Efforts to make data available and in a usable form remain a work in progress, Dobson says. And there’s no single solution that fits the needs of every company. Instead, the system must be flexible enough to account for all users and situations.
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