Supply chain integration challenges are keeping some enterprises from accurately forecasting demand and predicting and mitigating risk, according to a recent IDG survey of IT and supply chain professionals. Respondents indicated modernization will go a long way toward delivering the full supply chain visibility needed to improve insights and planning. And unified platforms powered by AI and machine learning are the cornerstone components of supply chain modernization.\nThe Apples and Amazons of the world\u2014global companies with a vast digital presence and large multifaceted supply chains\u2014are leading the modernization charge. Up-to-the-minute visibility and communication across the supply chain provide the agility to quickly pivot in the face of change to keep customers satisfied, minimize waste, and reduce costs.\nOther companies with the same goals are getting tripped up, however, by older back-end systems that are missing AI and machine learning components, says Ganesh Gurumurthy, Director of Supply Chain at GEP. The most important problem any supply chain faces is supply planning and distribution, he notes. \u201cMany companies are using old technology along with manual processes.\u201d\n\u201cDeploying platforms with AI and machine learning engines would help automate processes and eliminate human error for more accurate forecasting based on environmental and other factors,\u201d Gurumurthy says.\nThird-Party Insights and Collaboration\nThe visibility challenge isn\u2019t limited to a business\u2019s own processes and locations, however. Companies also need collaborative platforms to link them to relevant data in third-party vendors and customer systems. Those systems should also support end-to-end supply chain visibility and communication while maintaining security and compliance with regulations that pertain to a given company\u2019s industry and geography. To enable those secure links, unified supply chain platforms should support APIs that enable organizations to share only the data that customers and partners need, and vice versa.\nSimilarly, APIs can also ease migration from older supply chain platforms to modern, integrated ones. For example, a company might convert a financial or ERP system into a unified supply chain platform with pre-built APIs that easily transform data from one system to another.\nUnified platforms not only offer real-time tracking and insights to inventory, shipment, and available product to promise to customers, they also help organizations locate the best product or component source at a given moment, based on the supplier\u2019s current inventory levels, price, and\/or delivery times. This type of insight is difficult to get using current\/old technology, manual processes that mainly show historical data, and primitive portal capabilities, says Gurumurthy.\nPulling it All Together\nIn an ideal world, he says, the integrated platform would run all supply chain processes, from planning to inventory, in a single end-to-end system. Migration to the unified environment requires change management processes to educate employees about the new operating procedures. Depending on how an organization is structured, Gurumuthy advises, a chief operating officer or supply chain senior vice president or vice president might be the individual best equipped to spearhead the change management.\nTo learn more about the unified approach to supply chain management, visit www.gep.com\/software\/gep-nexxe.