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4 FAQs About Supply Chain Control Towers

Posted by Sophia Shats     Mar 22, 2021 1:58:04 PM

You’ve likely heard it said countless times: Ask 100 people to define supply chain Control Towers and you’ll get 100 different answers. With a wide array of Control Tower solutions on the market, each with their own capabilities and differentiators, it can be challenging to decide which is the right fit and how to sell it internally. There are also many ways to implement a solution, so even after purchase, your strategic work has only begun.

Inspired by a recent conversation between principal Nucleus Research analyst, Andrew MacMillen and Alkimius founder and CEO, Mauro Gonzalez, here are some frequently asked questions we encounter on the topic, as echoed in some of their discussions.

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Software Alone Is Not Enough: Factoring People into Successful Implementations

Posted by Gerry Daalhuisen     Mar 15, 2021 10:16:05 AM

“Digital transformation” typically refers to a technological upgrade. Yet, the new technology is just a tool to get at the heart of what’s really driving the initiative: a desire to change and optimize processes. While a tool can have powerful capabilities, its strength and success will inevitably depend on the people implementing and executing it.

There are many real-world instances of excellent supply chain software that failed to implement. That’s because software alone is not enough; the team you work with is integral to digital transformation success.

Here are five of the most common challenges businesses face in driving a seamless and successful upgrade, and how the right team and approach – as well as some critical software features – enable a fast and effective implementation.

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The Omnichannel Alphabet Soup: Structuring the Unstructured

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Feb 22, 2021 1:57:10 PM

At the start of my career, most brands and OEMs used a traditional two-tier distribution process through wholesalers and retailers to sell their products. “Advanced” companies passed orders via EDI. Brands knew little about their end-users, a far cry from today’s growing customer-centric approach with expanding arrays of channels and convenience options.

The ecosystem and number of touch points are expanding fast, prompting businesses to accrue more systems to effectively conduct commerce, and it’s only proliferating. This begs the question: How does each system talk to the rest of the network? In other words, how do all these systems connect to form a single version of the truth?

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What Exactly Is a Digital Transformation – And Are You Doing It Right?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jan 18, 2021 2:33:35 PM

For some time, I’ve been reading, watching and following the white papers, case studies, and countless webinars put on by keen minds about digital transformations. I must say, the topic doesn’t feel any clearer. Many would have us believe the elements of a digital transformation should include the likes of IoT, AI, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), ML, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and 3D Printing.

In some applications, these transformations are life changing. IoT temperature sensors are enabling the new cold chains for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the use of a digital twin is facilitating the faithful reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Such innovation and advancement are truly a marvel; but, for the average business, the expectation feels daunting, expensive, and drawn out. For most companies, a digital transformation involves a more practical approach.

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Hindsight Is 2020: Top 5 Takeaways for Supply Chain Leaders

Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Dec 28, 2020 4:17:31 PM

Coming into this year, no one could have predicted the pandemic and unprecedented disruption to the supply chain – and essentially to all businesses in one way or another. That said, many have been proclaiming the critical necessity for end-to-end visibility, agility, and flexibility for years.

From learning to adapt to investigating the foundational technological tools that allow brands and logistics service providers to mitigate risk and disruption and provide customers with excellent service under even the most trying circumstances – here are our key takeaways for the year.

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How Can a Transportation Management System (TMS) Promote Sustainability?

Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Nov 30, 2020 4:46:02 PM

More individuals and businesses are recognizing the impacts of industrial practices, such as greenhouse gas emissions and waste. The growing interest and effort have, in fact, prompted the first annual "State of Supply Chain Sustainability" report, published just last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation and Logistics, and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

Encouragingly, the report found that nearly half of all companies surveyed now have sustainability goals in place. And, while a third of companies still lack supply chain sustainability goals, today’s transportation management systems (TMS) make it easier than ever before to support green initiatives.

Intelligent capabilities, like automation and optimization, do more than improve efficiency and revenue – they empower businesses to make more strategic and conscientious choices about who they partner with, how they control the inbound supply chain, and what options they offer their customers to make similarly mindful decisions.

Here are a few key ways that a TMS can support sustainability goals in your supply chain.

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The Seamless Shift to a Customer-Centric Supply Chain

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Oct 12, 2020 4:15:01 PM

In our first installment on the value of customer loyalty, we discussed the numbers surrounding trust and customer retention. Indeed, in these unusual circumstances, it has never been more fitting to consider the value of customer loyalty.

Not only has COVID-19 impacted a company’s ability to provide adequate or exemplary customer service levels, but those bound to legacy systems built around silos have found it particularly difficult to quickly respond and adapt.

In a time characterized by chaos and uncertainty, competitive differentiation will be defined by speed, consistency, reliability, and trust. In a practical sense, that means shifting from reactive to proactive, customer-centric supply chains. For those relying on fragmented processes, the solution is faster and simpler than you think.

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5 Major Misconceptions About Perfect Order Fulfillment

Posted by Sophia Shats     Sep 28, 2020 2:52:35 PM

Whatever the business, perfect order fulfillment is the ultimate aim for any supply chain practitioner. That means delivering on-time and in-full (OTIF) to customers as cost effectively as possible.

This is no secret, and every business is obviously working to achieve a highly effective supply chain strategy that builds customer loyalty while maximizing sales. The problem is, it’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing or define progress through misleading metrics.

Let’s demystify some of the most common misconceptions about the perfect order.

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What Value Is Customer Loyalty?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Sep 4, 2020 12:25:25 PM

My entire career, I’ve believed that it is easier to get more business from existing customers than to develop new ones. That’s not to say you don’t want new customers, but given the effort and expense involved, trusted relationships tend to win out over unknowns.

Yet, when we think about digital transformation, the topic of customer loyalty is typically an unmentioned benefit and nowhere to be found in the ROI rationale. Why is that?

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Optimizing vs. Reducing Costs: Is Your Supply Chain Getting It Right?

Posted by Tom Rhoads     Aug 17, 2020 3:20:27 PM

Practically every business is – in one way or another – working to reduce supply chain costs. Be it operating costs, freight and logistics spend, buffer stock, or the countless other revenue leaks.

In the grand scheme of things, revenue growth and cost efficiency are quite complicated and a balancing act to master. The cheapest options are not always the best options; beneficial actions in one business unit may harm another; and optimizing within silos and is not really optimization.

As supply chain leaders work to recover revenues and drive customer loyalty, business growth, and competitive differentiation, it will be vital to invest in systems and processes that break down silos, better balance priorities, and optimize the supply chain end-to-end.

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For Shippers, Dynamic Invoice Matching May Yield a 10% Boost to the Bottom Line

Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Aug 3, 2020 4:48:32 PM

The invoice matching process is typically associated with accuracy. A supply chain business partner performs a service, and the invoice they submit should correctly reflect what was delivered in that agreed upon service.

While it sounds simple enough, times have changed. In today’s complex, global supply chain, operations don’t always go as planned. Logistics service providers frequently encounter delays and unforeseen events that incur charges and ultimately alter the scope of the original estimate of costs.

Current technology enables supply chain software to move beyond simpler paradigms, helping shippers save precious time and already thinning margins.

Let’s take a look at the difference between static and dynamic invoice matching, which can offer shippers a 10 – 15% boost to the bottom line of freight and logistics cost.

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What Does Control Look Like in the Era of Disruption?

Posted by Sophia Shats     Jul 20, 2020 4:06:19 PM

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.

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How to Get the Quickest Time-to-Value for Your Digital Transformation

Posted by Tom Rhoads     Jun 29, 2020 3:57:23 PM

The shift to remote work has left a majority of businesses technologically underprepared – and remote work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to structural changes.

There’s a renewed urgency for digital transformation, especially in supply chains. A recent PwC COVID-19 Pulse Survey revealed that 72% executives believe their companies will benefit from resiliency and agility in the long term, with nearly 50% expecting long-term benefits from technology investments and new ways to serve customers.

Digital transformations offer supply chains incredible opportunities to minimize risk and revenue loss by maximizing efficiency, customer satisfaction, and business growth. Digital transformations are also often daunting to approach and sell internally.

That’s why it’s vital for businesses to start with investments that yield the fastest and most valuable results.

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This Is Not a Storm to Weather

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jun 15, 2020 3:55:31 PM

While most business cycles ebb and flow, two or three times in a generation we encounter an earth-shattering change that fundamentally reshapes the way we do business. We’re in the eye of the storm – and it’s not one to wait out.

Many refer to the ‘new normal’ as a future reality, yet COVID-19 has had structural impact since its earliest protocols surrounding hygiene and social distancing. They have already transformed the way we do business and it’s only the beginning of a series of ongoing and disruptive changes. So, how are you preparing for the reckoning?

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3 Ways a Control Tower Can Help You Recover Revenues & Resilience

Posted by Vijay Natarajan     Jun 1, 2020 4:15:21 PM

Supply chains have never been more exposed to uncertainty and disruption. Businesses are turning to Control Towers to secure the visibility they need to stay better informed, connected, and resilient as revenues drop and many supply chain partnerships become less viable.

However, while Control Towers certainly offer greater efficiency and agility, many practitioners and buyers don’t realize just how much they vary in their breadth and depth.

Here we’ll explore three unexpected ways that Control Towers can offer incredible flexibility and financial returns.

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