Supply chain technologies are constantly evolving to keep up with the increasing globalization and complexity faced by organizations trying to manage their supply chains, keep costs down and maintain continuity in service and delivery. Many companies rely on a complex mix of spreadsheets fed by manual data entry and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems; few of them use best-of-breed technologies to manage their supply chain. I recently read a report that surveyed nearly 600 business around the world and 85% of them reported at least one supply chain disruption incident in 2011 so for most companies, planning technologies are either under or ineffectively utilized likely both. As a consultant, it’s important for me to understand technologies that exist today what benefits they offer today as well as where they are headed to remain viable tools given the changing marketplace so that I can help my clients understand what will work best for them given their specific circumstances.
This summer, I attended a supply chain technology conference in the UK where a multitude of solution providers showcased tools including: advanced planning and scheduling, collaborative forecasting/demand planning and manufacturing execution systems, with specific case studies highlighting how these solutions are leveraged by their clients. But perhaps more interesting were the discussions about technology trends around the world. As regions gain in manufacturing maturity, they tend to follow the same evolution. Supply chain practices, along with the supporting technologies, can’t be implemented until a certain degree of maturity is reached. Hence experts in supply chain are adapting to the market function of their readiness. Some organizations are ready for advanced planning & scheduling, some for manufacturing execution systems, some for demand planning and forecasting… and some aren’t ready for anything at all.
I think there is tremendous opportunity in 2012 and beyond to leverage the right technologies for your business and also to share with the extended supply chain within your region to optimize delivery.