After a spike more than a decade ago catalyzed by a buying spree of ERP, supply chain, web front ends and so on, one would think that a market like integration would be a no-grow or go-away market. But quite to the contrary, the tool suites, the delivery options, and sales of even traditional elements continue to grow. Why is this?
Analyst Insight: As technology platforms become more sophisticated, affordable, secure and widespread, they are poised to become useful tools in spurring collaboration along the supply chain. In fact, when coupled with collaborative buyer-supplier agreements, it could become a primary factor that makes collaboration a reality instead of just an aspiration. - Kate Vitasek, faculty member of the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration
While there has been much talk over the past 10 years or so about "collaboration," much of it has been focused on external supply chain collaboration. It seems that many companies neglected to get their own houses in order before looking outside their own supply chains, according to a University of Tennessee report entitled Bending the Chain: The Surprising Challenge of Integrating Purchasing and Logistics.
One of the biggest opportunities to dramatically improve supply chain performance occurs when traditional supply chain functions are decomposed and reinvented as integrated business processes. Few supply chain practitioners would dispute that notion. However, when it comes to their technology strategy, too many practitioners fall back into deploying the TMS, WMS, route planning, mobile and other technological silos developed in the 1990s that don't ultimately support their vision.
Supply chain execution convergence is a hot topic these days. The need for end-to-end visibility and solutions that proactively enable planning and the ability to react to the unavoidable disruptions is paramount. Organizations need to evaluate their overall supply chain approach and to consider how supply chain execution convergence can get them to the next level.
Consumer packaged goods companies and retailers are natural allies. They have many of the same objectives - increased sales, cost savings, optimized processes and systems, and happy customers - and already work together in many parts of the world. But in emerging economies, such collaboration has yet to take off.
Last year, I attended a thought-provoking supply chain conference hosted by an industry analyst organization. The agenda was packed with interesting supply chain topics - cost-to-serve strategies, supply network optimization, S&OP integration, demand shaping tactics, etc. However, the event gave almost no attention to the foundation upon which advanced supply chain planning and execution strategies rest: supply chain integration.
Analyst Insight: Recent developments in PLM technology have increased substantially the potential for sharing of product data throughout the extended enterprise. Access to such technology has historically been highly variable, especially among smaller members of the supply chain. However, exploitation of cloud-based computing infrastructures, together with major strides in usability are "democratizing" PLM and making it much more accessible. As a result, accurate, up-to-date product information can be made available right across the supply chain. – Tony Christian, Director at Cambashi
Analyst Insight: Collaboration is widely identified by supply chain analysts as a critical trend for supply chain execution. But it is one thing to "say" collaboration and quite another thing to get it right and garner real results from your efforts. For the best results, think of collaboration and integration together. And don't be afraid to contract for collaboration. - Kate Vitasek is a faculty member of the University of Tennessee's Graduate Center for Executive Education.
Analyst Insight: Supply chain efficiencies and dynamics are tested daily by the heightened need for companies to meet a growing set of demands. As efficiency and consumer demand converge, visibility grows in importance and can only be brought about through collaboration. What makes visibility and collaboration between stakeholders possible is a common language of standards that can enable supply chain participants to understand and act on information with agility and precision. Industries achieve remarkable progress together. – Siobhan O'Bara, Senior Vice President of Industry Engagement, GS1 US