December 9, 2021

Digitisation of supply chain - Next Big Thing?

Digitisation

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous change in the way companies in any industry do business and has created constraints that impact the movement of products throughout the world. Coronavirus-related problems have revealed the many vulnerabilities in the global supply chains, disrupting the way businesses operate. A report by NASSCOM shows that pandemic-led supply chain disruptions have caused world trade volumes to shrink between 13% to 32%.

The journey towards digitalisation has been ongoing for a few years, but the current crisis has put pressure on creating a system that offers better visibility, automation, and collaboration in supply chain management. The pandemic has led to a rapid acceleration in the digitisation of supply chains and internal operations by almost 4 to 5 years, pushing businesses to leverage new technologies. In fact, a ToolsGroup survey report states that 54% of businesses using digitalised supply chain management were able to mitigate pandemic-related uncertainty quite well.

Digitisation of the supply chain - a global technology movement?

The market’s current volatility has made it very clear that supply chains play a crucial role in the overall success of global businesses. Modern supply chains are complex due to the numerous partners spread across several geographies, and the addition of COVID-19 has only made it harder to create a seamless global trade ecosystem. While it isn’t possible to see what may happen tomorrow, companies can continue working today towards building a more intelligent global supply chain.

Supply chain digitisation refers to the shift towards a fully integrated system for planning and production that helps in creating a more transparent supply stream across the value chain. The result? An extremely flexible, responsive, and visible supply network that has the ability to adapt to a multitude of industry-wide variables. This kind of digital transformation offers accelerated lead times, data analysis capabilities, enhanced reporting, as well as reduced production and operational costs. The first step towards that is to bring together the already available platforms and combine them to create a single cloud system that will allow businesses to manage and track everything from material supply and fleet logistics to customer demands.

The main value of a digitised supply chain resides in the breaking down of silos that form across different teams of any company. These silos are smaller departments in the company that operate in isolation from others, hindering the seamlessness of processes throughout the business. This creates collaboration barriers between suppliers, partners, and production houses in different parts of the globe. Using a digitalised ecosystem to host every aspect of your supply chain offers end-to-end transparency and allows everyone in the company to share information and collaborate, thus removing isolated processes. This is also responsible for delayed processes, miscommunication, slow movement, and uninformed decisions made by companies. Synchronising these systems creates an opportunity for better visibility into processes, faster response times, real-time insights, transparency between teams, and effective collaboration for always staying updated. Supply chain digitisation also provides companies a way to optimise their speed and overall costs by significantly boosting operational efficiency as well as reducing the time it takes to make well thought-out decisions. It is a crucial component that helps in achieving efficiency as well as gives businesses complete control over their supply chain by granting real-time access.

Relationships are still significant after digitisation

While businesses are putting supply chain digitisation as their main focus, it is important to remember - relationships are still the core component of every company. Digitisation cannot be the end-all solution because communication and interpersonal relationships are still critical to any brand’s success. Technology can definitely help businesses improve their overall operations and supply processes, but ‘people’ still need to make the decisions.

The idea is to leverage the time that is saved when using such digitisation tools more judiciously and continuously seek to grow by discovering new partnerships, growing stronger relationships, and ultimately reducing operational costs. A seamlessly working supply chain is one of the best ways to not just cultivate better relationships within the chain, but also between the customers and the brand.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that companies that want to stay ahead of the competition need to prioritise digitisation and invest in the required technologies. Brands can take advantage of these tools by finding areas in their supply chain that need to be tweaked and optimised. Supply chain digitisation allows businesses to scale as required and skilfully shift with the changing industry needs. Aspects such as storage resource management, enterprise resource planning, and suppliers’ data all need to be updated and visible to teams in real-time in order to make better evaluations and take informed decisions.  Such a level of data synchronisation helps in reducing redundancies, creates better communication channels, as well as offers clearer insight into every vertical. This is also necessary for businesses to identify risks and better predict demand in order to more accurately forecast assessments. Automating processes such as distribution, marketing, sales, logistics, scheduling, and more, as well as efficiently analyse data to meet the constantly changing customer demands.

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