Supply Chain management professionals are worried about the technological disruptions and its impacts. How will this transform the supply chain management process across the firms? How will digitalization of supply chain impact the firms and customers? If we start looking for the answers, the wishful impacts of “connected supply chain” look bold yet believable.
According to Andy Mulholland, VP & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research[i] "The technology for digital business is stateless and loosely-coupled, not stateful and closely-coupled like IT."
Connected supply chain is one of those technologies, which is focused on innovation for enhancing the experience of each stakeholder in the system. Let us understand that Connected Supply Chain is not just about supply chain visibility or integration, it is about one single defined system. All the parts of this system will be talking to each other. Sharing data, insights and providing tangible benefits. Including business propositions on top of supply chain integration. Overall it is all about reacting to the changing market needs by making every node in the value chain share insights with each other.
According to Covisint brief[ii], “83% of chief executives believe their supply chains are not optimal to meet today’s demands.”
Given these changing demands and varying needs of the customers, OEMs are targeting to increase their robustness by incorporating the connected trends in their supply chain. The capturing of these trends based on technologies like machine learning can help us model bespoke algorithm. These algorithms help us understand the changing requirements of the customers and redesign the whole model accordingly. In this way, our system is updated with the latest demand trends and helps us to acknowledge the situation in the most intelligent way.
Similarly, a connected supply chain is not just affecting the operating models of manufacturers; it is also impacting different firms like logistics provider. Various 3PL logistics players are focusing on integrated supply chain benefits by catering to the overall health of the product along with the health of the fleet. These firms are using IoT based processes for real-time, granular and accurate visibility of physical entities. The focus here is to improve the quality of the consumer product by monitoring the quality of raw material or finished products in all its environmental frames.
Apart from these technological captures, firms are enabling virtual agents across their system. These agents have language and image understanding capabilities. For example, they are used in the supply chain of aftermarket services as a solution provider without any human intervention. These agents are enabled by bots to analyze the data log, derive next steps based on log output and take corrective steps. These help in customer conversations and provide an intelligent solution and knowledge representation based on the customer problem. The imaging capabilities help to analyze the traffic and similarly update the delivery date of service, refurbished or new product to the end customer.
The idea is to control the external environment based on the robustness and readiness of our foundational processes. The focus is not just on the customer needs, but it is also on their evolved futuristic experience. Though this enablement is leading businesses to be a data hub, the focus is for a fruitful exchange of this information across the ecosystem. Here, the ecosystem is not just limited to the stakeholders of a single firm, but it is a consolidation hub for data exchange of various firms. Ultimately this technology empowers us to derive and deliver multi-lateral solutions based on the insights gained from these shared data.