Supply chain visibility, or perhaps a lack-thereof, is one of the biggest reasons why organizations will lose money today. While many don't seem to think about it, industry professional Patrick Lemoine wrote on Supply Chain Digital that companies can't manage what they can't see and should be adopting tools, such as inventory control systems, to help automate and improve workflow.
"With margins and service levels hanging in the balance, enterprises simply can't afford to keep customers waiting as they scramble to correct the errors created by poor forecasting or inflexible supply chain operations," Lemone said. "The ability to respond quickly and intelligently to unexpected changes in demand is paramount to sustained success in this new environment."
For many organizations, the challenge will come in having to adopt the technology that integrates with what they currently have, as many have been slow in keeping up with the changing needs of technology. Giving customers updated and timely information is now essential, and that means being able to know where products are, when they will be in stock and keeping a smooth flow running the entire time.
Analytics and software can help organizations more readily reach goals that they couldn't previously achieve. Lemoine said brand owners must keep up with demand and volatility by shifting away from planning and making decisions within the company in real-time, which means the supply chain should be able to identify problems as they arrive and help the company work collaboratively to solve the problem.
Cloud may be ready for trial run
One suggestion he made for organizations willing to experiment is working with a cloud-based software solution, which should add scalability and flexibility to the manufacturing cycle.
"Cloud-based supply chain solutions are changing the game from the inside-out, making it possible to bridge multiple tiers of information silos and process gaps with a 'single version of the truth' that is accurate, intelligent, and actionable," he wrote. "They are also introducing a level of operational efficiency, flexibility, and scalability never before believed possible."
SupplyChain247 said cloud computing software in manufacturing can help make things more on-demand, as updates and new services will be available on a more subscription-level basis. Citing numbers from Gartner, the website said cloud-based software grew 19.6 percent in 2012, up to $109 from 2011's $91.4 billion. The industry is poised to grow even further to $206.6 billion by 2016, the statistics said.
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