Analyst Insight: Enabling supply chain visibility via control tower technology and capabilities remains one of the most sought-after supply chain initiatives for many organizations. However, many companies underestimate the time and effort required to effectively launch and fully meet these objectives through the orderly buildout of the foundational digital capabilities and infrastructure to meet current and more advanced control tower product functionality and ROI.
In our experience, companies deploy Supply Chain Control Towers for many reasons that include facilitating operational improvements, improving on-time and in-full (OTIF) supplier performance, addressing purchase order and outbound shipment status visibility gaps, or identifying a product’s inventory levels versus demand throughout all nodes within the supply network.
Our experience also recognizes that, while the reasons for employing a supply chain control tower are undeniable, unrealistic timelines and unmet expectations are often caused by lack of understanding of the typical maturity curve for deployment of full-scale digital core, real-time, end-to-end supply chain visibility that aims to enable predictive and prescriptive decision support.
To better align organizational goals with supporting project plans, the following incremental steps on the journey toward control tower proficiencies are recommended:
Discovery Assessment. Best-in-class companies invest time up front to understand the depth and breadth of fundamental and aspirational control tower capabilities. Creating a foundational definition up-front, along with defining the level of advanced control tower capabilities desired, will proactively identify data needs. It will also provide key insights to guide the selection of supporting technologies and infrastructure. This analysis will also facilitate building a roadmap that provides incremental business value and expands control tower proficiencies over time.
Control Tower Enablement. Best-in-class companies establish a rock-solid digital core that includes a centralized data structure and an integration strategy; one that brings together data from key business and supply chain systems throughout the evolution of the control tower initiative. An efficient supply chain control tower relies on high-quality data and strong data governance procedures. This directly impacts the output of insights and the degree of visibility provided to business users.
Control Tower Buildout. This stage enables operational visualization across each in-scope supply chain functional area. As workflow digitization and the degree of operational visualization increases, the need to refresh more frequently data from additional internal and external sources increases in importance. Control towers must also be well designed to display meaningful real-time KPIs that monitor the “heartbeat” of the supply chain, thus driving awareness and alignment with strategic organizational goals and current performance.
Advanced Capabilities Enablement. This is the rewarding stage in which advanced control tower functionality can be deployed and implemented to include predictive and prescriptive analytics, automated decision support, and autonomous planning and execution. These processes and workflows enable business users to proactively address supply chain issues, often providing alerts in advance of occurrence. These capabilities also permit users to respond quickly and more intelligently, minimizing business impacts. The most sophisticated supply chain control towers provide advanced analytics to assess the operational and financial impacts of any changes, and provide decision support to help users address issues very quickly.
Outlook: In 2023, expect to see further growth in the demand for supply chain control tower-related initiatives. The visionary companies already have these initiatives well underway and are beginning to realize significant benefits in many areas. As these results become more known, others will follow the leaders. Don’t wait to see your competitor’s case study success story at the next industry conference!
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