Supply Chain Digest recently talked with a number of supply chain experts to get their feedback on how business will be conducted in the future and what role supply chain software will play in making operations more efficient.
Lora Cecere of Supply Chain Insights told the news source that a major paradigm shift will occur soon, as businesses frame the discussion surrounding their supply chains from one devoted primarily to obtaining raw materials to a more market-based thought process. Slowly but surely, companies are beginning to see their procurement and shipping strategies not as siloed actions but as a part of the total package for providing goods and services to customers. As a result of this shift, companies will more frequently turn to supply chain software and ERP solutions to develop methods for analyzing their shipping and distribution routes to improve overall operations and boost profit margins.
Analysts at Gartner told Supply Chain Digest that two of the top drivers for changes in supply chain management will come from visibility and cost concerns. As competition increases and the need for increasing profit margins becomes ever greater, companies will need to develop new ways to cut costs, and the supply chain will be one of the prime targets for consideration. However, financial constraints cannot engender the need to maintain visibility over all aspects of an increasingly global supply chain.
Why Supply Chain Visibility is so Critical
Failure to use automated data collection methods to oversee the entire process can cause significant headaches, as coconut water distributors found out recently. As this market has grown thanks to natural foods retailers, companies have had to rapidly expand their supply chains to meet growing demand. However, coconut water distributors are in danger of losing one of their biggest partners, as grocery chain Whole Foods has recently asked all coconut water brands to conduct a thorough audit of their supply chains to make sure their products meet the market's ethical business standards, BevNET reported.
According to analysts at IDC Manufacturing Insights, this push by Whole Foods is representative of a new trend in supply chain management, in which all involved parties are pushing for more oversight and a greater sharing of information.
"[T]he ability to more efficiently and effectively collaborate with supply partners on the supply side of the supply chain and customers/channel partners on the demand side of the supply chain is a critical component of resilience," the experts told Supply Chain Digest. "But in the modern supply chain organization, it is not just about the business process or the desire to collaborate; it is about the technology and technology tools to enable efficient exchanges and manage large amounts of data - and to do it in a smarter way. We expect that in 2013 manufacturers will increase their efforts to collaborate with supply chain partners and explore technology tools to facilitate the exchange."