The expectations of the average customer have changed a great deal in the last few years. People want products quickly and expect them to arrive in increasingly tight windows of time. Most businesses rely on a complex and disparate network of partners and software systems to fulfill their orders.
Little wonder that 74% of companies say the number of entities in the supply chain has increased in the last three years, according to PwC survey of 209 businesses, or that 95% feel discrepancies between those entities are increasing. To manage such a complex system effectively, you need deep, granular visibility and the ability to act in real-time, which is precisely why you need a Control Tower.
Complex Processes and Lack of Proper Visibility
Very few businesses have complete control or insight into every stage of a typical order’s journey from conception to the customer’s hands. Often there is some insight into individual stages, but they’re segregated or siloed. There might be one system for the warehouse and another for transportation, for example.
In the rush to expand geographically and ensure that orders are fulfilled on-time and in-full (OTIF), many companies have adopted multiple software systems and tools. Mergers and acquisitions often add another layer that needs to be integrated with legacy systems and the latest and greatest tools you’re using.
When GEODIS asked 623 supply chain professionals to describe their supply chain, 70% of them said it was very or extremely complex. Only 6% said they had achieved supply chain visibility.
You can’t react effectively to find the most efficient flow without a detailed, holistic view of the entire process and the ability to tweak and alter anything that appears problematic. Planners must be made aware of potential issues quickly and be able to act immediately to remedy them. An executional Control Tower can make that happen, but it’s important to choose carefully.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Control Tower
While an analytical control tower can collate data and generate visualizations based on that information, which can be very useful for planning over the long-term, it won’t provide the rapid flexibility you need. An operational Control Tower, on the other hand, combines analytics and action to boost your agility and empower your team to deliver a consistently great customer experience.
Any control tower you choose must give you deep insights into every stage in an order’s lifecycle. Look for something that’s flexible, so you retain as many choices as you possibly can for inbound, outbound and aftermarket order flows. If it’s relevant for your business, then stir reverse logistics, return polices and repairs into the mix.
Assess how disruptive and challenging it will be to integrate each prospective control tower. Future growth must be kept in mind. You’ll want to continue to adopt cutting technologies as they emerge, so look beyond existing and legacy systems. Ultimately, you need control for real agility, so you can be free of the need to wait for external parties to respond to your requests.
Building for the Future
The digital supply chain will be the dominant model within five years, according to 80% of respondents to MHI’s 2017 survey, but just 16% say it’s happening today.
Identifying the right Control Tower, along with a partner that can help you retain more customers and attract new ones, is a real step towards a successful digital supply chain that will differentiate your business from the competition.