What Does Control Look Like in the Era of Disruption?

There’s a lot of talk about supply chain resiliency, but what does that really mean in a practical sense?

While the pandemic is an extreme and unprecedented example, disruption has many faces – from daily exceptions to lasting and impactful events, like tariffs and natural disasters.

The first and most practical step all businesses must take to bolster their supply chain resiliency is to invest in a Control Tower and Visibility solution. Yet options vary widely, and few have the necessary capabilities to identify all the costs and constraints within the supply chain. Few deliver the control needed to coordinate and execute across a supply chain network during the most uncertain and vulnerable times.

 

Connecting at Different Stages of Digital Maturity

 In the age of the multi-enterprise business network, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. And while you can’t expect all of your partners to be fully equipped with the latest and greatest advanced technologies, you can invest in supply chain software that connects with and speaks to systems at various stages of digital maturity. Remember: while you may be able to afford minor delays and errors in good times, limited visibility and latency cause significant impact upon impact during disruption.

Tip to Regain Control: Choose a Control Tower platform that lets you execute across a multi-party network with automated flows and support for different customers and business units. To achieve this, the technology should sit on top of any and all legacy systems to grab the information it needs – where and when it needs it – enabling a single, real-time view into what’s happening up and down the entire supply chain.

 

The Ability to Act on the Data You Have

 The saying goes: “knowledge is power.” Practically speaking, knowledge is only half the battle. Information is only as good as what you can do with it; during disruption, time is of the essence. Once you receive a timely alert that something has happened, how quickly can you use that knowledge to your advantage? Once you know that a manufacturer or distribution center is no longer a viable option, how effectively can you onboard new partners and switch flows?  The new paradigm is “knowledge is power when executed upon,” and as near to real-time as possible with automated workflows.

Tip to Regain Control: Look for configurability in a Control Tower and Visibility solution, as well as in-app management capabilities. Configurability is your greatest resource to boosting flexibility and delivering quick time to value: It allows you to continuously rewrite the rules, updating or adding additional flows in minutes to adapt to new conditions, requirements, and constraints.

A Control Tower that’s part of a unified platform and has an integration layer will give you the flexibility to diversify your network and partner dynamically. Easily add and set up new partners with real-time visibility and control, with the ability to seamlessly switch between them as needed.

Meanwhile, in-app control ensures you never have to log in and out of multiple systems, which wastes precious time. Whether you have to split a shipment, pick inventory in-transit, or reroute an order, your Control Tower should let you act on the visibility it provides, offering options for a resolution in a few clicks.

 

Command Over Finances

As it is, businesses struggle to meet high demands on thin margins. During times of disruption, margins only get thinner and customer experience is one of your greatest differentiators. Revenues tend to drop during times of crisis (the pandemic being no exception), leading to a circular loop: To save on costs, companies hold off on investing in technology that enables strategic recovery. Without the technology, revenues are harder to recover, making it more difficult to invest in the very tools that would help recover them.

Tip to Regain Control: Make cost visibility a key driver of your digital transformation. A Control Tower with deep and robust cost control capabilities, will help you dissect your supply chain down to the most granular elements. Visibility into your total cost picture and cost structures enables you to pinpoint avoidable charges and discrepancies within contract agreements.

To think of Control Towers only in terms of supply chain visibility is short-sighted. Access to information is a first step in a far more complex and strategic journey. Supply chain resiliency means being able to act on your data with agility. It also means having the flexibility to adapt with nuance – to fit to the specifications of each unique challenge. Not all disruptions are alike; technology is best when neutral and configurable and gives its users maximal control and flexibility to react to a very dynamic marketplace.

 

 

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