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Industry Ecosystems Power Digital-First, Sustainable Supply Chain Operations

By Roderick Gaines, Research Director, Warehousing, Inventory & Order Management at IDC.

Adding Value through End-to-End Supply Chain Collaboration


Supply chain management tools and technologies are vital to organizations of today, as they provide critical visibility throughout the logistics cycle at different stages such as planning, sourcing, creating, building, delivering, and returning stages. 


In a recent IDC survey, over 37% of companies cited end-to-end supply chain visibility as their top focus. For a successful supply chain, they must be able to connect their various stakeholders with effective data-flow management and communication. Organizations can accomplish this with end-to-end supply chain integration software, which allows for better data flow, improved analytics, increased security, increased efficiency, and visibility throughout.


By taking advantage of these tools, organizations can improve operations and increase profits by becoming more agile and better equipped to manage their supply chain in a dynamic environment.


Investment priorities into technology have been a key focus for organizations as they look to manage supply and demand volatility. Applications such as order management, warehouse management, and transportation management systems can provide them with the visibility and agility to be proactive instead of reactive. Businesses that can enhance visibility across their supply chain and gain a better understanding of their customers’ needs are better positioned to meet the challenges.


Collaborative technology solutions enable companies to collaborate with their suppliers and business partners more effectively by providing them with access to real-time information and a collaborative environment where they can share best practices, discuss new ideas, solve problems, manage processes, and drive continuous improvement throughout the supply chain.


According to IDC, 33% of companies view collaboration with their partners as a key step to mitigating risk in their supply chain. These solutions also enable partners to work more efficiently with each other using a single platform which helps to reduce operating costs and eliminate redundant processes while improving overall efficiency across the supply chain.


Supply Chain Visibility


A key component of an effective end-to-end supply chain is visibility and insight into downstream and upstream capabilities. IDC estimates that over 46% of organizations will improve them as a step to mitigate risk. From a business collaboration perspective, organizations view upstream with suppliers and downstream with customers as two opportunities that can provide immense value.


Downstream visibility and analytics play a critical role in decision-making by assisting organizations to uncover inefficiencies that could lead to increased costs, lost revenue, poor customer service, and ultimately impact operations overall. Upstream visibility allows companies to gain a better understanding of the demand patterns that affect their business and provide them with the information they need to better manage their inventory levels to remain competitive in the marketplace. These capabilities are as valuable as the supply chain tool they reside in.


Order management systems (OMS) give businesses the ability to improve customer service and enhance operational efficiency by enabling them to automate their entire sales processing workflow — from order entry to order fulfillment. These systems make it easier for companies to process orders quickly and accurately.


Warehouse management systems (WMS) are an essential tool for effective supply chain management because they provide detailed information about the status of all products flowing through the warehouse and help managers track and analyze key performance indicators. WMS automates inventory management tasks and streamline operations.


Transportation management systems (TMS) are likewise essential for optimizing the flow of goods through the supply chain. TMS help companies and their customers to coordinate and manage shipments across multiple modes of transport to reduce costs and improve delivery time reliability.


Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain Resiliency


A cloud-based data management solution enables real-time visibility into all aspects of the supply chain, so that organizations can make more informed decisions about their business' strategy. This allows them to automate processes to reduce operational risk and improve productivity. Additionally, a cloud-based data management solution integrates data from across the entire supply chain so that companies can identify key trends and patterns that will help optimize their network and reduce operating expenses.


Companies must be able to deliver products quickly and efficiently to the customer, which requires a complex set of interconnected business processes that include supply, manufacturing, logistics, retail, and distribution. To succeed in this environment, they need visibility into their entire supply chain to identify potential challenges before they occur and take corrective action to avoid costly delays or disruptions.


By embracing the digital transformation journey of software and technology solutions, organizations can gain end-to-end supply chain visibility by tracking the entire lifecycle of their products from the moment raw materials are purchased to the moment the final product is delivered.

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