Like many of their larger competitors, today's mid-market companies are beginning to focus on expanding their footprint. The economy is strengthening in a number of areas and based on recent indicators, confidence is increasing as well. One of the challenges, however, is that while the basic fundamentals of responsible business growth haven't changed, the landscape for technology and supply chain solutions has shifted remarkably since the manufacturing sector downturn in 2008-2009.
Mobility is a hot topic these days. Regardless of industry or profession, a mobile application or ecosystem is in development to serve it. The supply chain is no different. In fact, given its very manual and distributed nature, the supply chain is better suited to mobile application deployment than most business processes. For distribution and fulfillment services, where most of the activities take place away from the desktop, the extension of business processes to mobile applications just makes sense. Most CEOs today are looking to the supply chain for competitive advantage (think Amazon's drones), so the time is right for supply chain managers to begin the process of introducing mobile into their processes.
While the buzz around mobile transactions is currently high, it shouldn't be considered as a check-box exercise when evaluating solutions. Mobility for the sake of mobility doesn't make financial or operational sense. To really deliver value, mobile transactions should be a tangible, measurable part of an overall improvement strategy for your supply chain operations.
While the concept behind the "Internet of Things" has been around for about two decades, NEST, the web-enabled thermostat company recently purchased by Google, has popularized the concept. Today, a data-driven infrastructure of internet-connected devices that control utilities, guide our retail shopping experiences, and monitor our health is far from science fiction.
A recent TAKE Supply Chain survey indicated that the primary reason companies choose to outsource some or all of their manufacturing or distribution activities is cost reduction. This was the number one reason chosen by 61 percent of survey respondents across all global regions. However, a frequent issue faced by companies after the outsourcing project goes live is that they're not achieving their expected cost savings. Two common causes for this disconnect are vague contract terms or metrics, and manual processes.
As a supply chain manager, you can build and deploy the best supplier collaboration system available, but if your vendors are not onboard, it's about as useful as an empty warehouse. The success of your collaboration project is directly tied to supplier willingness to use the system.