Over the two years since the start of the pandemic, volatility has become the new normal: hampered by unexpected closures, service delays, and material scarcity, businesses today face unprecedented challenges. Lead times across industries reached record highs in 2021, and the continued need for safety regulations further complicated supply chain planning and capacity management. Governing bodies relaxed regulations for a time, only to then reinstate those same restrictions again during a surge.
Reopening has been halting and painful, but 2022 is expected to herald economic recovery thanks to broad population immunity and medical advances. As you plan your 2022 technology strategy, here’s a recap of the critical capabilities that enabled businesses to build supply chain resilience last year.
Building a Foundation With Supply Chain Visibility
Supply chains become increasingly complex as an organization grows and expands their markets and partnerships. Many of today’s products progress through a series of multi-modal movements before reaching consumers, and the transition can involve transportation and shipping between different regions around the globe. It is also common for multiple parties and systems to handle different legs and modes of a journey; as a result of this segmentation, various stages of the supply chain become siloed, diminishing visibility and coordination between parties. These “blind spots” contribute to unnecessary delays, spending, and logistical conflicts that damage the bottom line.
In “It’s 11PM – Do You Know Where Your Shipments Are?”, supply chain and digital transformation expert Bryce Boothby discusses the importance of end-to-end visibility not just for B2C transactions but also B2B. He points to the recent crisis at the Suez Canal as an example: On March 23rd, 2021, a 1,312-foot-long ship ran aground, blocking 300+ ships from passage and causing subsequent delays and shortages that affected millions. If the affected organizations had end-to-end visibility in their supply chain, Boothby argues, they’d be alerted to any event that could affect delivery in real-time, thereby creating an opportunity for businesses to find alternative suppliers.
Updating Supply Chain Technology With Quick-Time-to-Value
Technology has always been integral to success, but there’s more to digitalization than a simple software migration. In today’s highly demanding, uncertain, and disruptive world you want a flexible platform that offers immediate ROI via fast and iterative business releases that have you up and running within weeks. Part of the challenge is effectively aligning with all departments and partners who stand to benefit from the upgrade, as well as adequate transparency and feedback between the software provider and teams within the organization.
In “Software Alone Is Not Enough: Factoring People into Successful Implementations,” MPO VP of Solution Implementations, Gerry Daalhuisen, demonstrates the need for visibility and coordination between silos. Successful implementation, Daalhuisen explains, can only be possible with a holistic approach that’s responsive to change.
Managing Disruption Through Smarter Planning
Control tower systems and technology make it possible to centralize data and share information across multiple enterprises. Automation, smart business rules, and machine learning capabilities take this a step further by converting raw data (such as information about inventory, network partners, and grids, in addition to external factors, such as currency rates, tariffs, traffic, and weather conditions) into actionable insights that minimize risk.
In June, 2021, Martin Verwijmeren, MPO co-founder and CEO, discussed the “Triple I” standard for supply chain orchestration with Supply Chain Movement magazine. The “Triple I” standard, he explains, is a new planning model that’s more integrative and agile than the traditional approach which is silo-based.
The “Triple I” acronym stands for:
- Integral, meaning that every partner within the business network (manufacturers, distributors, carriers, etc.) gains visibility over one version of the truth.
- Instant, representing the near-instantaneous responsiveness between parties as a result of integration.
- Intelligent, which describes using smart business rules, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to mine data and draw conclusions based on comparative analytics.
This multifaceted and integrated approach makes an increasingly complex global supply chain easier to navigate–even amid service disruptions and volatility. Verwijmeren elaborated on these ideas in a blog post titled, “Why Practitioners Should Embrace Supply Chain Complexity When Planning.”
Investing in Omnichannel Expansion
In addition to changing procurement and distribution processes, the COVID-19 pandemic also affected how consumers select and make purchases. Instead of visiting brick-and-mortar storefronts, buyers in 2021 used online sales channels more than in previous years. Businesses that embraced digitalization were well-positioned to capitalize on the transition from traditional retail to virtual, a shift that was catalyzed by lockdowns.
Seemingly overnight, online operations became a necessity for many businesses. The transition poses logistical concerns for some industries, but, as we learn from “3 Supply Chain & Technology Trends Driving Business Success in the New Normal,” it also offers the auxiliary benefit of potentially increasing a company’s audience reach. Instead of being limited to their geographic region, organizations can increasingly pitch products to consumers from around the world. If done successfully, omnichannel integration can actually help businesses expand their customer base, thereby boosting sales. Even small- and medium-size businesses can establish a global presence.
Information Technology in 2022
Supply chain management, logistics, and transport are constantly evolving, and the pandemic accelerated digital transformation across every sector in 2021. To stay competitive, supply chain expert Bryce Boothby, suggests companies should prioritize IT in this year’s budget. Rather than treating IT as a “maintenance cost,” he argues that technological initiatives and inter-departmental, single-instance software integration are worth the cost of implementation.
“The best way to structure transformations,” Boothby explains, “Is by maximizing visibility and collaboration across internal and external parties. Multi-enterprise supply chain business network technology connects fragmented systems across dynamic ecosystems for end-to-end insight.”
How strong is your supply chain technology strategy? Software solutions, such as supply chain visibility, omnichannel order management, and supply chain planning and logistics software, are likely not giving you the potential ROI you're capable of when used as disparate point solutions. Given the current climate of uncertainty and complexity, an approach that converges planning and execution, as well as inventory, order, and transportation management will empower you to mitigate risk, recover revenues, and optimize service levels against cost. Get in touch to learn more by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or requesting a demo today.