Milton Keynes, U.K, 25th September 2013
The Cloud will revolutionize supply chain technology as we know it, says Darren Matthews, CargoWise Business Development Analyst, EMEA—but will we have the creativity to let it develop to its full potential?
I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing as frustrating as getting to the end of a book and realising there’s a page missing from the nail-biting conclusion. Supply chain visibility is exactly the same: your clients share a similar frustration when all they have is a fractured view of the order status of their goods.
As the global marketplace has grown, so too has the complexity, and increased risks, of the supply chain. The challenge for the industry today is to manage and mitigate those risks by creating more resilient supply chains and having readily available access to monitor all parts of the process. If companies throughout the supply chain have visibility of every link in the chain, then organizational performance improves.
Although visibility has become a popular buzzword in supply chain publications, its true potential has yet to be fully grasped. While increasing the amount of data along all stages of the supply chain does indeed aid businesses, having it all in one place is the real Holy Grail.
This type of supply chain visibility had been the dream for more than twenty years but it remained elusive due in no small part to the technological limitations of trying to connect large numbers of distinct trading partners. However, that landscape has now changed significantly thanks to a little thing called cloud technology.
Sharing data in the cloud is now so commonplace it’s not something many of us give a second thought to. From checking our email to storing our music and our money, the cloud is already deeply integrated into our lives. Yet this capability has only recently begun to make its way into the fundamentals of supply chain management.
Despite efforts to build platforms that would enable visibility, reliance on one-to-many data exchange remains a key struggle for countless businesses. A shipper or manufacturer may need to connect to tens, if not hundreds, of trading partners each using different platforms and technologies. In turn, these parties may need to communicate with their freight forwarder, transport provider, customs broker and warehouse. This is where the challenge lies: many trading partners are small businesses that lack the tools to be connected and if you can't connect with virtually all of your trading partners, then there are blind spots in your supply chain.
So what’s the best way to move forward? A central hub, system, platform or database is the most straightforward solution. A system capable of retaining and exchanging this data while offering a portal for all trading parties to monitor and maintain their supply chain: standard connectors, simple status updates and global visibility from one place. Is the dream slowly starting to become a reality?
With a reliable and foreseeable supply chain, you can trust in your performance—and when you do that, you remove excess processes, saving time and money. This capability is still in its infancy but there are a small number providers out there that have their fingers on the pulse of this burgeoning field. Today, more and more tools are being developed to improve supply chain performance and to noticeably drive real and meaningful value across the enterprise. The dream is finally becoming a reality.
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