With myriad risks throughout the global supply chain, those businesses willing to adopt flexible decision making strategies and integrated technological solutions like automated data collection are likely to have a better chance of keeping a competitive edge in the world marketplace.
Not too long ago, sourcing materials was often easily done. For many industries, the supply chain was either partially or entirely vertically integrated. Nowadays, suppliers and manufacturers often receive their materials from suppliers spanning the globe. Keeping track of the diffuse amount of information can be overwhelming.
Suppliers Benefit from Advanced Data Gathering Technologies
In order to keep supply chain costs low, supply chain management (SCM) solutions are needed for improved decision making, creating operational elasticity so that an organization can identify and eliminate inefficiencies.
One of the best ways integrated data collection methods streamline operations is by optimizing inventory. As suppliers fine tune their operations in larger numbers through the use of technology, many of those establishments are also realizing that those same tools provide them with a broader view of the supply chain.
In speaking with Manufacturing Business Technology, software development expert Dan Radunz explained how better this improved operational awareness from new data gathering methods can lead to greater supply chain visibility on the whole.
"[By] making sure you know the what, where and when of your inventory, [you] ensure rapid and efficient replenishment [as a result]. This may mean global visibility that goes beyond the four walls of a facility to each node of the supply chain, including the warehouse and manufacturing facilities, in transit and at reseller locations."
Yet, perhaps one of the most powerful and largely unrealized ways that advanced data collection methods impact an organization may be how they are perceived - beyond a mere tool and more as a company asset.
"Supply chain management is no longer solely about cutting out cost." said product management professional Adam Kline. "[C]ustomers are [now] looking to drive differentiation through their supply chain practices and even turn their supply chain into a revenue generator."
Manage Expectations, Change
The switch to smart data collection requires careful planning and steady leadership. Many businesses experts agree, like software strategist Prashant Bhatia, who noted, "the most effective supply chain solutions automate best practices, not necessarily current practices, and adjusting to the new way of doing things can be difficult."
Not only should a transition strategy be developed between management and the IT consultants, but also an implementation plan for the decision makers so that they fully understand an automated supply chain management system's capabilities. If followed through correctly, businesses will wonder how the were able to function before such tools were available.