We live in a highly demanding time. Customers want more, better, faster, and cheaper. Competition is steep, and meeting expectations while innovating and staying profitable can feel like a pipe dream. As supply chain practitioners invest in and leverage robust technology to deliver on ever-increasing demands and complexities, it’s vital that they see past the fads (quick fix solutions) and focus on long-lasting trends (solutions that best align with where the industry is headed).
Supply chain visibility has always been important. Yet, in 2017, improving end-to-end supply chain visibility only ranked 6th as a top objective, according to Geodis’ Supply Chain Worldwide Survey. It didn’t take long for practitioners to begin seeing the capability as a fundamental necessity and not just a tool that would be ‘nice to have.’ In fact, responders to Gartner’s latest SCM Technology User Wants and Needs Study named end-to-end visibility as their top funded initiative.
So, what’s suddenly motivating companies to prioritize this capability?
I recently joined IDC as an analyst covering global supply chain execution and fulfillment strategies, and began by reporting on the difference between maximization and optimization in the end-to-end supply chain: how it’s important to move from the former to the latter, how optimization can only be achieved by viewing the whole ecosystem, and how difficult this has been to do historically. It also explores how a digital transformation (DX) and the promise of interconnectivity and visibility it offers, as well as the intelligence it enables when paired with analytics or AI, make the optimization of large, multi-enterprise, multi-country, multi-industry business networks a viable – and necessary – goal.
We spent the year breaking down how today’s supply chain practitioners are under the gun, feeling pressured to run smoother and leaner operations under thinning margins and during the most disruptive time that has ever existed. We’ve noticed that these conditions have spawned a sense of urgency for quick and easy fixes.
However, we also discussed how, much like lasting happiness, fulfillment, and self-actualization, there are no quick fixes in the journey toward industry leadership. Rather, it requires a thoughtful digital transformation to establish a firm foundation on which new processes and innovations can effectively flourish.
As we close out this year, here are three key takeaways for cultivating a lasting transformation and supply chain success.
Digital supply chain Control Towers are invaluable for helping multi-enterprise business networks better collaborate, improve efficiency, and cut costs. They can, however, vary greatly in the depth and degree of what they actually ‘control’ and how much direct actionability you derive from them.
Here is a brief overview of the core elements of control a digital supply chain Control Tower should have.
We began the series by stating that simply good isn’t good enough. That in today’s competitive climate, which requires companies to innovate, expand their service or product portfolios, and contemplate what’s next at a faster pace than ever before, satisfaction with incremental gains is a setback. Most companies put off digital transformations because they see the cost as overhead, an expense to avoid, and not a necessity for future survival.
We talk a lot about digital transformations and how vital they are to stay ahead. But transformations are about more than staying technologically up-to-date and relevant, they’re about adopting a new mindset and revolutionizing the way you do business.
From practical guidance to contemplating the bigger picture, here are a few quick tips from those who have proven to know what they’re doing.
Over the past 25 years, companies have been using the supply chain as a competitive tool. The most successful manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and logistics providers leverage superior supply chain management practices to distinguish and elevate their brands. Most of them have done so by investing billions of dollars into home-grown systems to implement these practices, as off-the-shelf software has typically failed to meet requirements.
It’s no surprise that there’s a growing interest in transportation management solutions. Transportation is at the heart of supply chain operations, and as more companies expand their products and services to conquer new markets, the more they run up against the limitations of their legacy systems.
While there’s a broad array of Transportation Management Systems (TMS) options on the market, according to Gartner’s Model for Holistic Multimodal Transportation Management Systems: Core Capabilities, few vendors “have solutions that can successfully and cost-effectively support all levels of transportation complexity.”
At its core, today’s transportation management solution must at least be holistic and multi-modal. But what does that really mean, and how can you better assess your level of transportation complexity and whether a given solution will adequately support it?
If you’ve been following my series, Making the Case for a Digital Transformation, it’s apparent that such a venture can stretch out over many months – if not longer. Not every business has that kind of time to spare, and you may be asking yourself: “What can I do if I have to get a new platform up and running in the next quarter or two?”
With tacit approval from senior management to pick a solution and spend what it takes (within reason), here’s my advice for fast-tracking your digital transformation.
More than two centuries later and the image of Frankenstein’s monstrous creation still looms large in our collective imagination. Mary Shelley’s timeless piece unfolds the story of a highly gifted scientist who is driven to uncover the secret of life. Using his expansive knowledge and unthinkable feats of engineering, he manages to assemble and animate a creature.
As with so many works of art – and as is so clearly our distinct pleasure – there are many lessons to take away from this tale. Even for supply chain solutions.
Today’s supply chain is incredibly demanding. No matter what sector you’re in, you’re likely up against thin margins alongside pressures to reliably and cost-effectively deliver both regular and rush orders on-time and in-full under strict time windows.
Due to a long-standing tradition of batch-processing, businesses are constantly losing money by unnecessarily rushing regular orders that are bundled with the expedite. Most Transportation Management systems (TMSs) run up against this inefficiency because they can’t control individual orders. Here’s how the order-centric TMS is challenging and revolutionizing that paradigm.
Logistics service providers (LSPs) face a unique challenge. In addition to the evolving customer demands within an increasingly global, networked, multi-channel supply chain, these professionals juggle a variety of clients with differing supply chain and management needs.
Many of the leading LSPs, such as DSV, CEVA, and GEODIS, have opted for a more holistic approach to management through a Supply Chain Orchestration solution which connects siloed systems. Here’s how the solution provides such companies with unprecedented opportunities for superior service, innovation, and profitability.
The idea of innovation might sound enticing, but few are willing to take the associated risks in changing course. Treading lightly has its advantages, but the line between ‘careful’ and ‘cripplingly cautious’ can be thin, especially in such a highly competitive world.
Here are a few signs you might be letting fear get the best of you.
The supply chain is always evolving, but since the advent of the Internet, its transformation has been unique, its challenges unprecedented. With e-commerce came greater market demands and competitive pressures. And as businesses adapted to these new realities, expanding their reach abroad and forming multi-enterprise networks, they found that managing these new opportunities introduced its own set of unprecedented challenges and complexities.
While the industry has coped so far by slowly modernizing and upgrading the various components of the old Transportation Management System (TMS) framework, we have reached a point in which this framework is no longer viable. By continuing to maintain it, businesses risk stagnating future progress. The Order-Centric TMS was built for the modern supply chain; it moves beyond the conventional model to provide unprecedented levels of flexibility and dynamism.