Technology and the Supply Chain
01 Mar 2019
By Kirsty Braines, Partner at Oliver Wight EAME
There’s no doubt that technology is now firmly ingrained into every business, and it’s becoming commonplace to take the vast amount of collected data and utilise it to add value, in terms of analysis and decision-making.
In this blog, we touch upon how it has affected the supply chain, but also explore the wider implication of technology on organisations in the 21st century.
From a supply chain perspective, at Oliver Wight, we’ve noticed that there has been in increase in the sharing of information across the supply chain – suppliers, manufacturers your customers and your customer’s customers! Technology has enabled an unprecedented level of accessibility and consequently, visibility across the supply chain.
People are key
Having the right people in the right roles is crucial if organisations want to realise the full benefits that technology and data can offer. They need to attract and talent with the correct capabilities to tap into data’s potential, and that means people who are confident and comfortable in translating numbers into outcomes that enable key decision-makers to drive decisions across the supply chain. Think of data analysts as ‘interpreters’. But this skill-set is one that isn’t always being recognised, or fully embraced by traditional industries, and that needs to change.
If harnessed correctly, data can enable organisations to reduce cost, increase margins and streamline processes, as well as proactively take advantage of future opportunities and mitigate unfavourable circumstances. Advanced analytics can positively impact decision-making in operational areas, such as in demand planning, supply chain planning, sourcing, logistics and transportation to radically improve end-to-end supply chain performance.
Furthermore, until now, the integration of finance into data and plans has been quite poor, but there are now tech companies who have started to address this and are creating systems with integrated finance functionality. This could be a game-changer if it’s properly executed, as finance is a key factor which influences decision-making and the plans that drive the business such as the demand plan, supply plans and even the sales & marketing plan!
Future-proofing supply chain management and finance
For your supply change management and finance to stay ahead of the curve, there are two deciding factors. One is – as mentioned above, is having the right people in the right roles. The second is making sure that organisations have the right processes in place to enable the outcomes of data analysis to be fed directly to decision-makers, so that the decisions driving the business are properly integrated. Otherwise, there is a risk that ad-hoc or isolated decision will undermine, rather than optimise an organisation’s desired outcomes. There is a third element – the tool, which in this scenario, is technology and or/data. The three – people, processes and tools – don’t function adequately independently, but together, can hit that ‘sweet spot’.