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A control tower that delivers both insight and action


July 20, 2022

Control Tower: From Visibility to Value

We hear a lot these days about how companies need more visibility across the supply chain—especially in the wake of COVID-19 and today’s ongoing disruptions. Objectively, visibility is a very good thing. It’s a key to helping equip companies to manage through disruptions and more effectively balance supply and demand—so companies can evolve their supply chains into supply networks that are agile and resilient, customer-centric, and sustainable.

Traditional control towers provide such visibility—but, unfortunately, not much else, which is why they often don’t live up to expectations. Solving today’s complex supply network challenges requires control towers to provide more than just visibility. They also need to enable action. And that’s the concept behind Accenture’s Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT).

The control tower evolution: From end-to-end visibility to autonomous execution, enabled by cross-functional supply chain capabilities across people, processes, systems, and data to increase enterprise value.

How an SCCT delivers both visibility and action

An SCCT goes beyond dashboards, tool implementation, or one-time activities. It’s a capability of people, process, systems, and data that enables orchestration across supply chain functions and the broader supply network, proactively and reactively as needed, to increase enterprise value and manage near-term disruptions. Advanced computing enables an SCCT to intelligently prioritize and respond to exceptions, orchestrating or automating remediations as necessary to ensure the best intervention is taken as quickly as possible.

The most successful SCCTs are built on four key pillars:

  • Use Case-Driven Capabilities. Not just a “plug-and-play” technology solution, an SCCT encompasses a set of capabilities that are combined to address use cases that create real business outcomes for specific companies’ needs and is typically structured to enhance multi-party collaboration.

  • New Ways of Working. An SCCT needs new role definitions to resolve cross-functional and cross-entity tradeoffs and align execution as needed. Effective collaboration also requires new customer-centric performance metrics that drive maximum benefit for the supply network.

  • Flexible Technology Architecture. Built on decoupled system architectures, independent of a company’s ERP or planning tool, an SCCT can easily expand to additional entities and use cases.

  • Robust Data Strategy and Governance. Every organization needs timely and accurate data. An SCCT can harvest, ingest, and process structured and non-structured data, as well as internal and external data—even imperfect data.

These four pillars set an SCCT apart from traditional, siloed functional control towers and are instrumental in the SCCT’s ability to generate significant, measurable quantitative and qualitative business benefits.

The SCCT payoff

From a quantitative perspective, these benefits include as much as 10 to 15% lower operating costs, higher revenue, and greater operational efficiency. Furthermore, SCCTs can help companies meet sustainability goals—for instance, reducing their GHG footprint by improving vehicle and modality utilization, last-mile delivery, and fuel use.

Typically, qualitative benefits are also substantial. These include a single source of truth, enabling all users to make decisions from the same data; real-time data and scenario modeling, ideally in a unified visualization layer to help leaders make critical in-the-moment and proactive decisions; and an end-to-end view of value chain financial and sustainability performance.

Customers also benefit. They can know in advance about potential delays or collaborate with the company on unanticipated demand spikes, while companies can proactively identify value-adding propositions and experiences for each customer.

A hybrid approach to implementation

One of the keys to the results an SCCT can deliver is how it’s implemented, which differs from traditional control tower rollouts. In the latter, companies can spend too much time and money building a control tower that’s not actionable, or they get bogged down in the quest for perfect data. They may start by building a functional control tower that improves the target function’s performance (such as logistics or planning), but at the expense of other functions’ KPIs.

Conversely, an SCCT implementation follows a hybrid approach based on business use cases and building capabilities over time. The hybrid approach builds operational scale (in terms of additional internal and external entities, regions, or functional areas) while adding SCCT capability depth (in terms of visibility, alerts, recommendations, and autonomous response), one release at a time. This agile approach generates use case-driven value quickly and continuously, while gradually strengthening and expanding the organization’s capabilities.

An SCCT is a must-have capability to deal with rapid change and disruptions

An SCCT is an essential component of a supply network that can orchestrate change, deliver superior customer experiences, and foster greater sustainability. It not only provides visibility into a company’s operations, but also enables a company to act on what it’s seeing to drive strategic business outcomes for each micro-segment of the market. Increasingly, we expect this to happen in the metaverse, with SCCTs enabling companies from various geographies to meet in virtual “collaboration rooms” to ideate and solve problems.

However, like many large-scale initiatives, moving from a concept to a value-adding set of capabilities can be complex, making it essential for companies to implement and evolve technology, workforce, and processes based on the key elements that determine an SCCT’s success. In some cases, it may make sense to buy an SCCT as a service, enabling a company to quickly and cost-effectively access all the capabilities it needs at once and, thus, accelerate time to value.

As companies find themselves increasingly relying on their supply networks to become a more customer-centric growth engine while being resilient and sustainable, an SCCT has become a fundamental, “must-have” capability. It’s what companies need to survive and thrive in an era of evolving consumer expectations, availability of new disruptive technologies, and the growth of new business models. It’s a new way to manage the supply network and drive enterprise value—and it’s long overdue.


Pravesh Kumar

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Supply Chain & Operations, India