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Harnessing Emerging Technology in Supply Chain Planning
By Angela Mazza Teufer, Senior Vice President ERPM and SCM Western Europe, Oracle
This brings a fresh set of integration challenges for IT departments. But business leaders also have an opportunity to drive new revenue-creating services. To accommodate customer and industry demands, supply chains are doing the heavy lifting of managing a transformation that is nothing short of epic.
The Race to Innovate
New technologies are enabling supply chain innovation in ways that the industry has not seen before. Over the past two decades, supply chain operations evolved, and tech giants introduced software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that would change the game for every industry. The move toward SaaS applications has enabled an exciting evolution with emerging technologies like the IoT, AI, and blockchain driving potential advancement for the future of the supply chain. Tech’s impact on the supply chain is real, and the race is on.
The concept of IoT and connected devices to make our personal lives easier is simple to understand (i.e., smart watches, digital assistants), but when applied to manufacturing or distribution assets in a supply chain, the business impact can be significant.
Over the past two decades, supply chain operations evolved, and tech giants introduced software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that would change the game for every industry
Connected devices in the supply chain continuously capture and share massive quantities of data to monitor critical factors like machine health (e.g., operating temperatures or productivity). IoT applications serve to turn this data into action-oriented information; one example is the use of centrally monitored digital twins for globally distributed manufacturing.
AI and machine learning technologies will also have a profound impact on the future of supply chain planning. These technologies can take massive amounts of demand data sourced through ever-growing demand channels, and learn from historical performance and trends to identify or predict different outcomes. We are seeing impressive results with customers using intelligent automation and machine learning tools to automate the mundane and highly computational process. The beauty in this is that these emerging tech tools are not being used to replace people; it is freeing their time for higher value-added tasks.
Finally, the introduction of blockchain technology provides a single source of truth for an organization across all suppliers and manufacturers, and the ability to track and trace the historical data for each piece of inventory distributed. Real-world events such as fresh produce contamination, if managed successfully with blockchain, would lead to a reduction in inventory loss and direct visibility to the source to stop the event as soon as possible and introduce preventative measures for the future. Blockchain enables access to the complete lineage of where the product was produced and how it has been distributed. In fact, blockchain-enabled applications can reduce the cost of dispute resolution by 30 percent to 50 percent.
Reaping the Rewards
Companies will most easily adopt innovative technology after migrating to a cloud-based SaaS solution. The standalone advantages for supply chain management are undeniable, yet the biggest obstacle we hear from customers is the perception of a cumbersome and costly process of moving to the cloud. One of the most important features when adopting SaaS for supply chain management is that customers can upgrade specific functional supply chain operations and not have to manage a big-bang, on-premise upgrade.
The future of SaaS and emerging technologies in the supply chain is bright and filled with innovation. Our customers who are embracing our SaaS supply chain products are also able to add on innovations such as IoT Cloud, AI Cloud, Blockchain Cloud and are reaping the rewards. While it may seem cumbersome or scary to start, it is worth taking that next step into digital transformation.