For years, companies have used digital supply chain technologies to improve service levels and reduce costs. But the inability to connect disparate systems, provide end-to-end visibility into the supply chain, and crunch massive amounts of data, among other issues, has prevented many companies from achieving the full potential of their supply chains. Now, thanks to the wide availability and adoption of much more powerful digital technologies, including advanced analytics and cloud-based solutions, companies are generating dramatically better returns on their investments.
Over the past few years, supply chain management has evolved from a labor-intensive local process to a "low-touch" - in some cases "no-touch" - complex global network. Today, SCM involves end-to-end and integrated planning and execution processes with real-time collaboration across the value chain. Such a system possesses tremendous flexibility in adjusting to a dynamic and consumer-driven marketplace.
The traditional supply chain and the supply chain management function are being morphed into an integrated value chain. This optimization makes up for a more efficient flow of supplies and products; and more importantly, an emphasis in customer and business value.
In the manufacturing environment of today, robotics are now playing a significant role, taking on jobs beyond assembly and helping to drive efficiency, consistency, and productivity across the supply chain.
Technological advances have driven dramatic increases in industrial productivity since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The steam engine powered factories in the 19th Century, electrification led to mass production in the early part of the 20th Century, and industry became automated in the 1970s. In the decades that followed, however, industrial technological advancements were only incremental, especially compared with the breakthroughs that transformed IT, mobile communications, and e-commerce.
The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark showed us that consumers are flocking to their computers and mobile devices to buy, browse and research. This all sounds great but, here is the challenge - at the same time their attention spans are at an all-time low. So, what does this mean for marketers and retailers?
When the term "cloud" came into popularity about a decade ago, it was so vague, encompassing so many different types of services. We prefer somewhat more precise terms, such as Software-as-a-Service. However, the term cloud took on a life of its own and everyone and their brother wanted to be known as a cloud solution provider (thus stretching the definition even further).
The emergence of Big Data poses significant challenges to retail supply chains. But it also offers the opportunity to gain new insights into customer demand. Annibal Sodero, assistant professor at the Walton College of Business University of Arkansas, explains.