Digital transformation is affecting business processes across industries, and the supply chain is no exception. Disruptive technologies, including cloud computing, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), are shaping the future of the modern supply chain as we know it.
It’s not surprising that more business leaders are ramping up their investments in supply chain innovation, recognizing that the digital supply chain is the future. In an interview with Oracle, Mike Mortson of Supply Chain Game Changer encourages companies to rethink supply chain management while taking into consideration the changing technology landscape.
While some companies still need to get the basics of their supply chain management down pat, others are already turning their attention to the ways in which the digital supply chain can improve productivity, enhance the customer experience, and support the overall business strategy.
Technologies like cloud computing, AI, and IoT are powering the digital supply chain. As a result, businesses benefit through end-to-end connectivity, extra visibility, and the ability to make real-time decisions based on the data monitored.
For instance, Mortson notes, a customer may suddenly change the size of an order or take shipment sooner, but because supply and demand fluctuations can be signaled simultaneously to other entities in the supply chain, businesses are able to satisfy the order. The concept of lead times and forecasting becomes irrelevant when the business can react and adjust in real time.
Technology is also transforming the role of the supply chain professional. Mortson highlights the need for a “radically different level of expertise and skill set” beyond just knowing how to place purchase orders or how to handle dispatching with freight carriers. Instead, new times call for “holistic, end-to-end supply chain management leadership skills.”
Then again, the ability to implement a digital supply chain varies from company to company. That’s why Mortson suggests the need to outsource such functions to experts, leading to a shift towards a supply chain-as-a-service model (SCaaS). In principle, the service can run some parts or manage the overall supply chain.
External parties who know the industry well and have made the right investments in digital technology, such as the cloud, may be better equipped to handle the digital supply chain. In turn, companies can allocate their skills, time, and resources to other aspects of the business.
Strides in digitalization show that the supply chain is no longer confined to a back-office function. Instead, it permeates the different aspects of running a business—from planning to logistics, inventory, and sales operations. Mortson adds that thanks to innovations in the supply chain companies can gain a competitive advantage in the form “asset velocity and last-mile delivery capabilities.”
More importantly, by harnessing breakthroughs in supply chain management, businesses can focus on their core competencies. They can explore more ways in which the supply chain can contribute to the competitiveness and financial success of their companies.