How the cloud allows companies to transform their Supply Chain

With the breaking down of knowledge barriers, competitive advantage depends on an effective and agile supply chain management. This ensures that key resources and products are at the right place at the right time, for optimal efficiency. What’s more, the rise of offshoring, or moving production to low cost centers has raised the importance of an effective supply chain management even higher. After all, gains from such low cost production centers are realized only when the savings are not dissipated by a significantly longer and complex supply chain.

The cloud makes it that much easier to have a lean and mean supply chain, regardless of the vast geographies involved.

The core challenge of supply chain management is keeping track of the product as it moves across the supply chain, from the manufacturing plant to the end user, through draymen, consolidators, shippers, customs brokers, freight companies and other stakeholders in the value chain. Each stakeholder, say a shipping agent, would literally have thousands of trading partners. Without the cloud, each stakeholder would have to connect to other stakeholders in a one-to-many network, an impossible task considering that most stakeholders are invariably small-scale operators sans the technological capabilities required to support such a feat.

A cloud based multi tenant platform, structured akin to a social media community comprising of all partners in a specific supply chain offers unmatched advantages. Not only does it offer a single and centralized depository to store records, it also makes collaboration easy. The shipper, for instance, connects to the freight company and everyone else in the chain, and all others do likewise. Anyone in the value chain simply needs to tap into an existing network to gain end-to-end visibility, as well as the complete picture of the product in transit. Also, they need to simply update information, be it status of cargo, pricing, announcements, updates or anything only once, for all the other stakeholders to see. Communicating with others in the value chain on a one-to-one basis also becomes easy, and possible through the same integrated platform.

Such a integrated platform also brings into the spotlight critical issues that constitute bottlenecks, or flare ups that disrupt the normal supply chain, enabling the stakeholders to make appropriate and informed interventions.

The incidental benefits of such a cloud based platform includes the stakeholder saving considerably on hardware, licenses for software, hassles of regular updates and data migration, avoiding roadblocks of different stakeholders having different versions or the same software, or even incompatible software, and more.

The companies of tomorrow are poised to compete on their value chains more than anything else, and the cloud offers the perfect launching pad for companies to transform their value chains dynamically, and thereby compete.

Author : Nayab Naseer Date : 01 Oct 2013