Intelligent Supply Chains in a Hyper-Connected World

Building a Future-Ready Supply Chain

To host 30 million shoppers a week and manage an inventory of 1 million products across 1,800 stores, you have to put your data to work. For Target, data science is key to improving on-shelf availability, reducing inventory levels and creating operating efficiencies.

For a future-ready supply chain, organizations must apply analytics for intelligent decision making, real-time visibility, planning and agile execution. According to Gartner, more than half of the Supply Chain Top 25 for 2020 are at a relatively early stage in their analytics journeys often operating in fragmented, functional silos. Forward-thinking organizations need to focus on reinventing their operating models to eliminate information silos by applying analytics to identify and actively respond to changes within their supply chain as it happens in real-time.

Throughout the complex network of procurement, manufacturing and delivery – an intelligent supply chain will be self-learning, self-correcting and insight-driven to provide a competitive advantage and meet consumer expectations.

Re-defining Analytics

Intelligence is more than data analytics – it’s proactive insights that expand visibility across the entire supply chain. Which in turn creates enormous potential for resiliency against potential risks and disruptions, smarter business decisions and an enhanced customer experience.

The key to extending visibility is drawing actionable insights from an enormous island of data. Once you’ve collected relevant data, analytics hold different meanings to various stakeholders, requiring different levels of human input to make intelligent decisions.

  • Descriptive Analytics – What happened?
  • Diagnostic Analytics – Why did it happen?
  • Predictive Analytics – What will happen?
  • Prescriptive Analytics – What should I do?

To meet the evolving needs of suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and distribution centers – intelligent supply chain operations has to become the new standard.

Beginning in 2014, Amazon dispatched Kiva robots within large warehouses to automate the picking and packing process. By combining decision automation with human input, employees have freedom to focus on gift wrapping, quality control and loading trucks for distribution. Amazon saves not only money, but by improving warehouse efficiency they simultaneously decrease fulfillment and transportation time between warehouses and the end customer.

With intelligent capabilities, streams of data are aggregated into a digital replica of the physical supply chain. Instilling emerging technology to analyze supply chain data extends visibility, helping mitigate risks by warning for real-time potential disruptions so an organization can quickly and proactively take action.

An Intelligent New World

While the supply chain is commonly considered the flow of product from supplier to consumer, there’s also movement of data across the same touchpoints. Forrester reports between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. Today’s organizations sit on an enormous island of data that exists across all processes, sources and systems. Under the pressures to maintain competitive advantage with such a quick pace of both digital and economic change, organizations lag in reimagining their supply chain management as a driver of differentiation and top-line growth.

People that work within legacy processes attempt to be more efficient, but often neglect to reinvent and drive new ways of working. Employees on the floor of manufacturing plants have a different view of inventory compared to the predictive analytics c-suite leaders review at a high level. Because data holds different meanings to various stakeholders, it’s necessary to place analytics in the right processes to gain insights at the right time.

Take your transformation one step further by integrating human intelligence with data to eliminate friction across touchpoints. As a recent result of a long-running battle, The World Trade Organization gave the European Union permission to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of American products in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to the U.S. plane maker Boeing. For supply chains that cross both sides of the Atlantc, human intelligence needs to mitigate touchpoints and suppliers to account for outside forces such as tariffs, trade wars, and other political and economic factors.

No matter the size of your organization, intelligence must become part of your organizational DNA. Through an intelligent platform and an ecosystem of solutions, partner networks can seamlessly onboard suppliers to drive speed, efficiency and agility in the supply chain – as well as the business.

Thinking Ahead

Intelligence is the key to launching your organization from your current state to future state. Making today the perfect window of opportunity to leverage intelligent capabilities and create a visible, resilient and predictive supply chain. As you build out your data to produce actionable insights, here are some tips:

  1. Uncover islands of data across the supply chain and utilize data analytics in a meaningful way
  2. Build intelligence into the culture of your company and embrace the need for digital transformation
  3. Find the balance between analyzing data and drawing insights in a meaningful timeframe

Redefining supply chain visibility within an organization is not immediate, but a proactive journey towards the benefits visibility provides. As we continue to explore the qualities of a future-ready supply chain, the power of intelligence will help you seize business moments, allowing you to accelerate your digital transformation towards a future-ready supply chain.

Up next in our blog series we will explore how the ability to confront and recover from unforeseen risks and disruptions is another necessary quality of a future-ready supply chain.

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