We’ve come a long way in the past 125 years of supply chain evolution. From the invention of hand trucks and steel shipping containers to the adoption of blockchain and warehouse robots, supply chain management has experienced tremendous innovation — and there’s still more to come.
While modern-day technology offers unprecedented efficiency and increased productivity, it still comes with challenges and risks that can be detrimental to a brand’s business and reputation. As we proceed into the second decade of the 21st century, supply chain managers have a responsibility to closely monitor changes and mitigate risk before it escalates. With supply chain analytics and reporting, you can keep tabs on your entire operation, proactively identifying trends and pinpointing problem areas.
Supply Chain Challenges of the 2020s
There was a time when all transactions and record keeping were done manually. Among a supply chain manager’s major challenges at that time were utilizing space more efficiently and cutting down on labor-intensive practices. But, today’s supply chain leaders face a whole host of new issues, including:
- Geopolitical tensions
- Crises and disasters (e.g. COVID)
- Rapidly changing consumer demands
- Compliance regulations (e.g. GDPR and CCPA)
- Competition with Amazon lead times
- Increased demand for traceability and transparency
In response, many companies try to temporarily bandage these challenges with quick fixes — but to minimal success. With so much unpredictability, the only way to combat these issues is through smarter demand planning and forecasting with supply chain data analytics.
Analytics Drive Insight
In 21st century SCM, managing and mitigating risk is only accomplished with clear visibility and deep supply chain analytics to drive proactive solutions. Reports allow you to measure things like vendor compliance/sustainability, product lead times across different vendors/suppliers, lead times versus sales data, status reports, and SKU diversification, among others.
Having this digital data at your fingertips allows you to:
- Inform your decision-making. Use real-time reports to capture analytics across every stage of your supply chain to control costs, increase margins, and maintain security.
- Create a smarter supply chain. Automatically run configured reports on any product and collect key metrics that secure your supply chain and increase your speed-to-market.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses (i.e. vulnerabilities). Don’t let small cracks become giant leaks. Gain a clearer picture of your supply chain’s health to increase support or double down investment in certain areas to scale your business.
But data is only beneficial if you can use it. To sustain long-term success, it’s critical to invest in a supply chain platform that connects all functions of the business to run real-time analytics reports and act on them. Without these real-time analytics reports, your team is left forecasting from Excel sheets, which do not serve as a real-time database. What’s worse, businesses that don’t adopt a next-gen platform areis at heightened risk of being overpowered by nimbler competitors.
Adapting to rapid shifts in the market is only attainable by successfully analyzing the supply chain data you collect and using it to adjust your strategy going forward. While implementing new supply chain technology may seem daunting, adopting automation yields immediate cost savings, increased efficiency, shorter delivery times, and the ability to predict and manage volatility.