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Infor: Future-proofing the supply chain

25 Jun 2019

Article by Infor Asia Pacific senior vice president and general manager Helen Masters

Today’s global economic volatility is putting increased pressure on supply chain managers.

A continually evolving market landscape means purchasing agents must be alert, well-informed, and able to pivot to new suppliers and delivery routes with confidence.

Current supply chain pressures from this year alone include the politically charged US-China tariff negotiations, worsening climate instability and greater government scepticism towards open trade, all of which are all causing even further disruption to confidence in global markets.

Technology can help provide the necessary insights to make smart decisions and take proactive stances. Agility is now the deciding factor in who swims and who sinks in rough economic waters.

Environment pushes ahead

As manufacturers and retail organisations are more accustomed to addressing competitive volatility than political turmoil, technology that will help guide managers is vital.

Manufacturers of industrial products, consumer goods or fashion, who need to rely on their partners and component suppliers, as they play key roles in product innovation and reliable delivery.

However, this all changes when large global companies must re-calculate overhead, factoring in tariffs, shipment costs, and reliability.

Economic factors are prone to disruption -- whether caused by geopolitical friction, weather extremes or macro trends.

No manufacturer or retail organisation is now safe from the potential impact of global commerce, increased competition from emerging nations, and expansion of the global middle class with buying power, which is why the role of the Supply Chain Manager needs to be elevated to a strategic C-level manager and supported with modern IT tools that provide advanced levels of insight.

Technology to leverage knowledge

As the ability to strategically manage supply chains moves from strength to strength, companies enjoy a richer arsenal of tools they can employ to work against the tide of uncertainty.

Supply chain planning and supply chain execution technology has made huge strides in the last decade as software providers have applied cloud computing, big data, business intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to solutions.

Outdated legacy solutions tend to be built on enterprise-centric systems, constructed in a hub-and-spoke model.

As the supply chain itself is a continually moving beast, it no longer represents the linear model of the past, instead reinventing itself as a highly reactive and globally connected stakeholder ecosystem. Supply chain managers adopting the thinking of yesterday are bound to experience stakeholders unhappy with delays in execution, which were once the norm.

Effective supply chain management systems address challenges through a ground-up solution working hand-in-hand across the whole ecosystem, allowing greater collaboration and transparency as things are happening.

When a whole-of-network solution is in first implemented, parties are allowed to see and use sorely needed, but previously out of reach insights to develop effective supply chain strategies.

Taking action

As environmental pressures are not set to ease, supply chain managers need to invest in innovative solutions, foster new strategies, and create a supply chain strategy that can withstand dramatic shifts.

Now is the perfect time to double down on forecasting and planning tools.

As managers can now make simpler, more effective decisions based on powerful insights, the time for trusting our gut is over.

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