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For the September 2008 study, Beyond Visibility: Driving Supply Chain Responsiveness, Aberdeen surveyed 349 businesses regarding their current practices and future initiative for supply chain visibility, among them 275 companies with global supply chains.
In a study conducted about a year ago, Global Trade Management Strategies: Surviving Growing Complexity in 2007 (May 2007), supply chain visibility and trade compliance were the two top-ranked improvement priorities in global trade management. Half a year later, in the Supply Chain Executive's 2008 Strategic Agenda study, companies ranked supply chain visibility as the number one technology application investment area that, in their view, would help them address their key business pressures related to the supply chain.
Yet, significant gaps in global supply chain visibility remain. Despite the fact that 57 percent of global companies participating in the above-mentioned 2008 supply chain visibility study have had a visibility improvement initiative for longer than a year, there is still a lot of improvement needed across a variety of areas.
The 2008 visibility study showed significant differences in the levels of agility, responsiveness and supply chain intelligence capabilities between companies with and without visibility into in-transit shipments, order and supplier events and trade documents. These included much stronger capabilities of companies that have the above-mentioned visibility in the following areas (among others):
• Redirecting in-transit shipments to higher points of demand
• Monitoring logistics bottlenecks and adjusting plans to avoid congestion
• Changing routing instructions to ensure that goods arrive on time
• Ability to by-pass distribution centers or cross-dock shipments
• Ability to analyze supply chain risk exposure and perform threshold-enabled decision making
Improved supply chain visibility has helped leading companies in this study achieve superior operational results. Best-in-Class companies in this study are:
• 4.3 times as likely as all others to have decreased the number of shipment delays over the past year
• 96 percent more likely than all others to have decreased their cash-to-cash cycle over the past year
• 46 percent more likely than all others to have decreased international lead-times over the past year and 3 times as likely to have decreased domestic lead-times
• 50 percent more likely than all others to have decreased inventory level over the past year
Supply chain visibility will remain among the top supply chain operations improvement priorities for global companies in 2009. The majority of companies are planning enhancements to the current level of visibility in order to increase operational efficiencies and make their global supply chains more agile and responsive.
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