Supply chain function today needs to be well-connected with the rest of the business and the innumerable stake holders. Gone are the days when supply chain was just another activity dealing with conversion of raw material into finished goods. Today, the supply chain encompasses much more than that. The digital era calls for a more connected, efficient, and an all-pervading supply chain service.
Supply chain today isn’t only about manufacturing a product but in fact, it has a major role to play in generating customer satisfaction, maintaining compliance, and making business sustainable. A decade or two ago, the supply chain was an isolated process with limited accessibility and approach. However, today thanks to the great leaps in technology, the supply chain has dramatically transformed, allowing business to better connect and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders and ensure customer satisfaction.
The digital era bids goodbye to siloed approach and beckons the entry of innovative tools and technologies to overhaul the supply chain services function. According to a Logistics Viewpoint survey, 50 percent of businesses reported sharing inventory across all channels or engaging in omni-channel practices. Additionally, the overwhelming majority, 98 percent, of businesses reported sharing inventory between online and retail locations.
As we realize, this sharing of information across multiple channels is not possible without the use of advanced technologies in the supply chain network. Hence, as times change so is the need to incorporate new and better ways to reach out to employees, suppliers, partners, and consumers.
So, what really is driving the role of technology in the supply chain services function?
One can certainly point out at the customers being an important reason why technology is becoming so important. To keep up with customers, businesses need to keep up with technologies. Customers’ expectations are ever increasing and added to that, there is pressure of competition from every side.
Prior to the rise of the internet and the advent of the digital era, consumers had only option for purchasing products- brick and mortar stores. There was no such thing as website to cater to their demands. All that companies really needed to focus on was ensuring that products are available in the right quantity at the right store and that was about it.
Also, consumers expectations weren’t indeed sky high and they were pretty much accommodating, given the fact that there were not many alternatives to choose from and also brand loyalty was taken quite seriously. Businesses definitely had an edge then.
But now, with increasing connectivity through social media and the internet in general, there is no dearth of information that customers can have access to. This position makes it all the more important for supply chain to leverage advanced technologies to make sure they meet consumers demand on an ongoing basis.
With ecommerce overtaking offline stores, or at least complementing them in a large way, businesses need to ensure all their touch points provide superior and consistent service. Delays or latency can lead to monetary and reputation losses, all leading to a blow on customer satisfaction. Thus, supply chain efficiency is utmost important and only technology can help here.
What about Data Strategy?
Now, as we progress further into the digital era, the need for collating, storing, and making sense of data become hugely crucial. This need has led to the emergence of cloud technologies that enable businesses to collate, store, and share business critical data across all levels of the supply chain. Without cloud computing, imagining running a business is difficult.
A cloud computing technology powers businesses, big and small to not only store and retrieve data but to scale operations and reduce costs. Cloud-based technologies allow multiple management systems, such as warehouse management, transportation management, and enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), and these help in storing, communicating, and sharing humongous amounts of data across the entire supply chain services network.
This allows end to end visibility of the network and the ability to dig deep so as to gain invaluable insights on what needs to improve or modify, for business to operate more effectively.
Innovation will be the prime focus of the digital era
This will help businesses to implement out of the box solutions to remain sustainable for decades to come. In order to be able to stay one step ahead of consumers and competition, the supply chain will incorporate cutting edge tools and technologies, such as cloud based computing to remain efficient and continue to thrive.
The future is set to see more such technologies coming into the picture which will make communication, sharing, and visibility all the more seamless and effective.
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