Right now, many companies’ supply chains are built on dated, legacy technologies. They can’t support end-to-end visibility or real-time decision-making, meaning they struggle to deliver strategic business value. They’re essentially analog machines trying to solve problems in a digital world. The result? Slow response times, waste, conflicting priorities between functions, delays and rigidity. What’s more, companies struggle to meet increasingly granular customer needs.
Furthermore, traditional supply chain organizations usually focus on optimizing a particular aspect of the supply chain—not all of it. Instead, organizations should share data across silos and optimize along the entire value chain.
Digital transformation of supply chains
To address these challenges, companies should create intelligent supply chains based on data, analytics and AI. These, along with digital twins, are among the top technologies that supply chain executives are looking to deploy in their organization. Enabling and optimizing them all, however, starts with the cloud.
Operating in the cloud is critical because it allows companies to process huge amounts of data—from virtually unlimited sources across the entire supply chain—at speeds and volumes never before possible. Deeper analysis of more data, faster, means developing critical business insights and smarter decision making. This includes gaining the ability to reconfigure how people work, and gaining the agility to respond quickly to new insights that the data generates. Along with being more powerful, simple and flexible, the cloud is also more affordable. This opens up endless possibilities for improving and optimizing the supply chain, particularly in terms of building in resilience and ensuring responsible operations.
There are additional benefits, too. When companies transform their supply chain organization, the focus shifts from driving profitability to delivering value across growth, sustainability and trust. Along with driving profits, the supply chain becomes instrumental in positively impacting the planet and society alike.
Digital technologies and data lay the foundation to make supply chains customer-centric, service-oriented, self-learning, intelligent and agile. There are five keys to executing an effective intelligent supply chain strategy:
- Break down barriers between functions. Traditionally, some roles (such as planning) operate in separate timeframes and don’t collaborate enough with other teams. In an intelligent supply chain, everyone works closely together.
- Build a digital foundation. Create transactional layers of real-time data visibility. Ensure that the insights are digestible, so that leaders can make quick decisions.
- Transform your talent. Technologies like artificial intelligence, digital twins, the internet of things and cloud are changing the game brings big changes to existing supply chain roles. Successful supply chain transformations put employees at the center and give people the skills and support they need. This requires building new digital skills, but also involving everyone in the implementation of new tools and processes so teams have a sense of ownership and the opportunity to innovate.
- Create partnerships and collaborate in new ways. Source technology partners who can help boost operational efficiency, increase yield or innovate products.
- Automate routine work. Redirect staff to focus on strategic analysis and innovation.
This helps build an intelligent supply chain that improves customer experiences, increases competitive advantage and drives profitable growth.