Written by Supply Chain Executive Mike Mortson. This guest post first appeared on Mike’s industry blog, Supply Chain Game Changer.
Have you ever tried to drive in a blinding snowstorm or when the rain or fog is so thick that you can’t see in front of your car? It’s not possible! And it’s risky to even try!
So why is it that the Supply Chain in so many companies is being run without the end to end visibility needed to even function, yet which we have in our personal lives?
In this age of exponential growth in digital connectivity the time has come to ensure you have End to End Supply Chain visibility. If you carry a Smartphone you can be tracked anywhere. So why don’t you apply this technology to your Supply Chain?
“Personal” End to End Visibility is Here!
Most everyone now experiences “personal” end to end visibility each and every second of each and every day. If you have a Smartphone then you are perpetually connected, and you are perpetually being tracked. How many apps do you load that ask if they can track your location? Lots!
When you walk into some stores they can tell that you’ve arrived from signals off of your phone and they immediately proceed to offer you real-time deals. You can track your kids if they are using your car and you can tell if they’ve been speeding and where they are.
Smart home technologies are expanding every day. Security cameras, light bulbs, thermostats, refrigerators, locks, and more are all digital and can be controlled remotely. You have that visibility wherever you are!
If the police need to track you down or retrace your steps they can follow the signals sent from your phone. And there are certainly many other legal and illegal situations in which your movements can be tracked.
In short, we are already in the age of “Personal” End to End Visibility.
The Need for Supply Chain End to End Visibility!
So if we have such an enormous level of End to End Visibility in our personal lives why is it that so many companies have Supply Chains with poor or, at the very least, incomplete visibility?
Environmental dynamics are driving a need for this visibility!
An ever-increasing number of companies are growing and doing more and more business internationally. Anyone who participates in, or plans to participate in, the E-Commerce marketplace will face unrelenting demands from their Customers, and Competitors, for order and shipment visibility.
Reducing the time it takes to get your products to market, and the time it takes to get cash, are critical for business success. By having visibility to the entire workings of your Supply Chain you can proactively make decisions in real-time to reduce your time to market and time to cash.
Companies who use Suppliers across geographies need to know where their product is both at the supplier as well as with the logistics carriers who are moving their goods around the globe.
Manufacturers are becoming increasingly immersed in adopting more Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into their operations. The Internet of Things (IoT) is real! And all of this technology is digitally based.
As companies expand their distribution channels they end up with inventory scattered across more and more physical locations. Without visibility as to where everything is inventory levels can quickly get out of control as companies are unable to move the goods in advance to where customer demand is best served.
And again Customers want visibility as to where their products are. Whether they are B2B or B2C Customers they need to know when and where they can expect their orders to be delivered. It is also necessary for companies to move their inventories closer to their customers on a real-time basis. You can’t do that quickly and efficiently with paper and a pen.
And the need for real-time visibility is critical when you have a disaster on your hands. It may be a hurricane, a flood, or another natural disaster, or even a man-made disaster. Aside from the human impact, which is most important, a disaster can disrupt your Supply Chain quickly and severely. Manufacturing, Distribution and Transportation can be shut down immediately. But without visibility you can’t make the real-time decisions to minimize disruption and mitigate the impacts to your business.
We now live in a Digital World. Having end to end Supply Chain visibility is now a mandatory capability, not just a nice to have offering.
Underlying all of this is the fact that we are in the age of Big Data, Cloud Computing, and the Internet of Things. This world of digital connectivity makes available a level of data that can only be managed and leveraged if there is end to end connectivity and visibility.
Managing this data digitally enables the application of advanced analytics. If you have a Control Tower or another Centralized communication platform you can use this data and the resultant analytics to make proactive decisions in real-time.
Event management, risk mitigation, customer awareness, supplier management, company needs, competitive advantage, cash management, and operational efficiency all demand an end to end Supply Chain visibility solution.
Investment is certainly required. But with capabilities such as Cloud Computing this can be more cost-effective than ever before. Remember that, just like in your personal life, everyone in the business community wants to be connected as well.
Don’t be left behind! Develop an End to End Supply Chain Visibility Strategy.
End to End Supply Chain visibility is a mandatory capability in a Digital World!