The Future of Supply Chain Management (SCM)

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March 14, 2018

Supply Chain

Only a decade ago you could walk into a high street store and discover whatever you wanted was out of stock. But modern technologies enable businesses to forecast the flow of supply-and-demand and manage manufacturing and distribution processes to make sure there are never any "empty shelves." That's the holy grail of supply chain management (SCM). But current developments in internet technology, business-to-business collaboration, smart data processing and analytics are changing the way supply chain management works.

The Internet of Things and SCM

The so-called "internet of things" is already impacting the efficiency and responsiveness of supply chain analytics in the food industry. Embedded technology records vital metrics even while the products are in transit, furnishing real-time data used to improve the quality and delivery of goods and services while minimizing wastage.

Manufacturers still rely on historical malfunction and return data to predict how many of which replacement parts to make and stock. It's an unreliable, often inaccurate method resulting in inefficiencies and waste. But embedded, internet-enabled technology is already revolutionizing sectors that have applied it. Machines can now self-report malfunctions in real-time. This data helps manufacturers respond to customer needs, calibrate inventory, and improve product quality.

Embedded technology isn't yet mainstream or widespread, but given the relative ease with which it integrates into existing products and SCM processes, it's only a matter of time before it becomes a revolution in supply chain management and analytics.

Unified Data and Supply Chain Visibility Software

No industry is a closed system. While it's easy to watch business processes and every inch of the supply chain under your own roof, the operations of your suppliers and distributors, for example, can remain a complete mystery. It's an enormous setback in supply chain management.

Or at least it was until recently. Supply chain managers have long dreamed of "end-to-end" visibility. That dream is now coming true.

Supply chain visibility software is transforming SCM with a suite of tools which enable long-chain collaboration, real-time communication, and critical data-sharing between businesses. The key to the success of these tools is unifying standardized data across all channels in real-time. In short, everyone is kept up-to-date on everything, and everyone is speaking the same language.

SCMs of the near future will see everything from primary resource procuration, through design and manufacture, to distribution, sales, and delivery of product, all in real-time.

The Smart Data Revolution and SCM

Big data has been the buzzword in business dynamics for a while. It's useful to accumulate vast datasets and use sophisticated algorithms to analyze them. But SCMs see the limitations of machine learning and big data analysis.

Big data isn't going away and will always have a role to play in operational processes, but in many situations, the buzzword of the future is likely to be "smart data." Smart data is about narrowing the focus to generate more targeted, and structured data feeds identified to solve a specific problem in supply chain execution.

Smart data analysis helps supply chain managers focus on the problem they're trying to solve and structure the data they need to analyze while eliminating the "background noise" of unrelated feeds. Looking at big data can be like looking at a vast, tangled web of threads. Smart data application enables you to select out only the threads you need and identify where they lead.

The Future of Supply Chain Management

Only a decade ago, SCM was a minor aspect of the business process, riddled with inaccuracy and inefficiencies. That situation has already turned around. The future of SCM is bright, with new technologies, software, and data processes ready to revolutionize the way you analyze and manage the supply chain.

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