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).
Getting Beyond the Fads
While there is no way to know the staying power of any given solution from our vantage point, for the purposes of this conversation, we’ll call ‘fads’ the most popular and prevalent supply chain solutions on the market today (i.e. TMS, Control Tower, Visibility, DOM, OMS, Reverse Logistics). It’s not that these systems are not powerful, necessary, or useful in their own right. Rather, they are fads because it is only a matter of time before the supply chain will outgrow them as individual answers to greater needs and complexities.
Today, companies are racing to stop cost leaks and solve incremental problems, like limited visibility and logistical inefficiencies. But, in the long run, all practitioners really want is for the entire operation to run smoothly and profitably. The only way to truly realize that and effectively manage today’s supply chain complexities is to stop operating in silos and begin unifying systems and solutions. Supply chain suites only purport to do that. Natively unified orchestration platforms are the real game-changers and the wave of the future.
Leveraging Trends Toward Smart Investments
Unlike fads, trends offer insight into where the industry is headed. Think about the common concerns and problems that all those supply chain systems and solutions on the market are trying to address.
Read about the most reputable systems and solutions out there and you’ll find a litany of claims, such as “end-to-end,” enabling “multi-enterprise networks,” “agile,” “flexible,” and “multi” and “omni” capable. Increasingly, “supply chain orchestration” is replacing the term “supply chain ‘management,” because the latter does little to define the incredible complexity of today’s multi-party operations. Similarly, terms like ‘supply chain ecosystem’ and ‘convergence’ are cropping up more often.
The way we speak about supply chain solutions reveals a great deal about the current industry pressures and what we need to effectively manage them. We speak of ‘end-to-end’ because the supply chain is vast, covering everyone from manufacturers and distributors to logistics service providers. They make up the multi-enterprise business network, so either a solution spans them all, or it isn’t end-to-end. In the same vein, multiplicity is a major trend because working with multiple partners means multiple interfaces, order types, flows, and service level agreements. Fulfillment also occurs across multiple channels using multiple modes and processes.
Smart investments today are about recognizing that no process or partnership occurs in isolation but is part of a greater ecosystem. The highest ROI comes from converging processes and operating holistically. Solutions seem to be sold separately because that’s how they’ve been historically discussed. In reality, transportation management overlaps with order management overlaps with multi-enterprise business network control and visibility.
The simple truth is, unless these capabilities exist on a natively unified platform, a company’s overall agility, flexibility, and power to optimize will be structurally limited. In other words, vendors aren’t lying when they say they’re agile, flexible, and able to optimize flows; they just aren’t as agile, as flexible, or as capable of optimizing every inch of the supply chain as a natively unified platform. Anything else will always be second best.
For unparalleled levels of agility and flexibility, MPO offers the world’s only unified cloud platform. Businesses operating in a range of industries can leverage this powerful solution to gain transparency across the entire multi-party network and optimize their complex, global supply chains to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency, customer service, and cost-savings. Learn more about how it will revolutionize your supply chain business processes by requesting a demo today!