Various polls taken by supply chain stakeholders from 2020 to the present moment – including our own – all point to a similar reality. Visibility is still a significant concern for organizations and is absolutely fundamental to a high performing supply chain. This comes as no surprise as disruption continues to affect the cost-to-serve on razor thin margins, and lack of timely insight impacts operational efficiency, OTIF delivery, and customer satisfaction.
The time to act is now. As is choosing a solution that offers the breadth and depth of supply chain visibility needed to help mitigate the impacts of disruption, recover revenues, and outperform competitors.
The Challenge of Business Network Complexity
It is widely accepted that digital preparedness enables the agility to quickly adapt and make smart decisions amid disruption that minimize impact on service and revenues. At the heart of any digital transformation is supply chain visibility. Visibility is a core component of all other solutions and capabilities, from order and inventory management to transportation and logistics management and even returns management. So, why isn’t it more widely implemented?
Large scale transformative changes, such as end-to-end visibility, are not single enterprise decisions. Organizations today operate as multi-enterprise business networks, partnering with suppliers, distributors, carriers, and customer. Each has their own supply chain systems landscape spanning multiple purchasing systems, ERPs, CRMs, and eCommerce systems. To complicate matters, network partners are often operating at different stages of supply chain digitization. Creating visibility and process alignment requires a technical solution that can talk to the different maturity levels of an organization from a digital perspective.
There’s also the issue of trust and getting your partners open to the idea of sharing their operating data. Data is the foundation of visibility, so it’s critical to establish transparency and quality reporting at each link in the supply chain. Once you’ve touted the benefits and have everyone onboard in principle, there’s also the question of how do you ensure a quick and seamless upgrade? In the era of disruption and intense competition, there’s no room for downtime.
Connecting the Dots
Traditionally, visibility platforms have been defined as “Control Towers.” They tend to sit on transportation management systems and don’t offer valuable or integrative insights beyond shipment statuses. For end-to-end supply chain visibility across the ecosystem – that is, across inventory and orders in addition to transport – you’ll need multi-enterprise business network technology, such as a Supply Chain Orchestration Platform with Control Tower and visibility capabilities that span upstream, downstream, and reverse flows.
A Supply Chain Orchestration Platform can be implemented in weeks and connects the fragmented systems landscape across the multi-party network – even if partners are at different stages of digital maturity. Think of the capabilities the platform delivers – visibility, collaboration, and optimization across multi-level order management, multi-tier inventory management, and multi-service transport management – as a corollary to what’s already in place, enhancing it. You want an Orchestration platform that will connect you to a vast carrier network, providing visibility and collaboration across all geographies and transport modes (ocean, air, truck, rail, and parcel) – all on a single platform combined with other upstream and downstream partners.
“I think of it as a super app that sits on top of any legacy system, takes whatever information it needs from the legacy system – where and when it needs it – and then can provide a view and insight into what’s actually occurring up and down the supply chain. It’s an add-on that provides broader insights into what’s going on, identifies constraints, and provides optimal solves for those constraints.”
It’s also important to remember that visibility is only the start. You need to have timely visibility and understand what’s happening at every node of your supply chain. But once you have that visibility, it’s worth little if you can’t act on what you see – and make the best moves possible for both you and your customers.
That’s where the ‘collaboration’ and ‘optimization’ layers of multi-party orchestration platforms come into play. Views that span all orders, inventory, and transportation – paired with embedded business intelligence – enable you to continuously adapt to change and unexpected constraints while maintaining high service levels and controlling costs.
Supply chain complexity shouldn’t be a hurdle to acquiring the end-to-end visibility you urgently need. A Supply Chain Orchestration platform embraces complexity by connecting multiple parties, systems, and processes on a single platform. Not only is it cost-effective by not requiring a rip-and-replace, but businesses will also accelerate the ROI of their platform investment with access to real-time visibility across all modes and geographies and continuous optimization capabilities on each and every order.
How strong is your end-to-end supply chain visibility solution? Supply Chain Visibility has significantly evolved from a buzzword in logistics circles that referred to track and trace capabilities to a more holistic solution that extends beyond transportation to cover all order flows and inventory across both in-house and third-party locations. Growing customer demands, supply chain complexity, and business networks are redefining what it takes to consistently achieve high standards amid disruption and uncertainty. Given the current climate, how strong is your solution, and where might you still benefit? Download the checklist to find out. You can also get in touch by reaching out to [email protected], [email protected], or requesting a demo today