I have found myself questioning why so many companies are slow or reluctant to embrace the new wave of thinking when digitizing the supply chain. I often hear, “Why don’t I change? Well, it still works the way we have always done it. Do I really need to spend more money on a system that will be outdated in a few years? Our customers seem happy, and they like the personal touch of talking to our teams. If it is not broken, why fix it?”
The “why” is because we are almost in 2021, living through a pandemic, and the entire business landscape is evolving. Every aspect of the supply chain has been affected by COVID-19, and businesses need to be smarter, quicker, and better educated than ever, or they’ll be left in the dust by their nimble competitors.
It is easy to settle for the old way of doing things. It is comfortable, familiar, and doesn’t require any disruptions to our routines. While this might not carry the same weight in our personal lives, a refusal to change is a recipe for disaster in business. While many global industries have adopted some technology for their value chain, many of those systems are outdated, clunky, and do not provide the value needed to drive real change. So, what does it mean to rethink digitization and bring your business into the 21st century?
I have found myself being absorbed by the changes and evolution of the supply chain for some time now. The most interesting trend is that “digital supply chain transformation” has so many different definitions depending on who you ask. Some companies define it as replacing manual, paper and pencil processes with digital data and process support. For some, it means applying machine learning and even artificial intelligence (AI) to the supply chain. And for some, it means getting better digital data to support end-to-end supply chain decisions.
The common thread is that digitization of the supply chain enables companies to address new customer trends and requirements. The constant new challenges are related to physical goods and the expectation of continuously improved efficiency and speed. This is where next-gen platforms come into play to provide improved visibility, traceability, and forecasting.
Companies optimize operations through digitization by turning previous manual tasks into digitized processes through software features. For example, an operations manager currently spends a considerable chunk of time chasing down answers from vendors on products’ status to provide updates to internal stakeholders and customers. Companies eliminate this phone and email tag with a next-gen supply chain platform that creates a digital seat at the table for all supply chain participants upstream and downstream. From the first day of digitization, data flow increases and creates an operations team that makes data-backed decisions for smarter forecasting and assignments.
Here are some other immediate impacts that digitizing through next-gen software provides:
- Better communication and collaboration
- Especially with COVID limiting travel and in-person contact, a single source of truth makes it easier for all participants to communicate and collaborate efficiently.
- Improved quality control
- With added digital checks and balances, the risk of delays and errors decrease to eliminate production delays.
- Higher efficiency rate with data-based decisions
- Excel worksheets are not a database. For businesses to adapt truly data-driven strategies, an end-to-end system needs to monitor data in real-time.
- Improved cash flow with costing and financial tracking systems
- Businesses can now track and manage POs, invoices, and payments through a single supply chain finance system that ties back to specific deliverables.
The time is now to digitize your supply chain, drive transparency, traceability, and upgrade your relationships across your teams, factories, suppliers, and clients.