Supply chain management (SCM) has become an increasingly strategic operation for many companies, often serving as a significant competitive differentiator. We spoke with Eric Wilson, General Manager of Supply Chain Solutions at GEP, about today’s key SCM trends and opportunities.
Q. How has the supply chain changed, and what challenges have arisen?
A. In the past, the supply chain ecosystem was linear, more rigid, and inflexible. A modern supply chain ecosystem is decentralized, which introduces end-to-end visibility and operational challenges. Adding new digital capabilities can allow for complete integration of, and visibility across, a supply chain’s parties, applications, and systems. Companies are reluctant, however, to completely abandon expensive legacy systems that took significant resources and time to implement.
Q. How can organizations best manage SCM modernization?
A. It’s important to take a phased approach that starts with easily achievable and high-return elements. Those improvements can then help drive corporate buy-in for additional SCM investments. At GEP, we’ve created technology comprising microservices that empower organizations to slowly integrate features they need one at a time. Companies don’t have to get rid of their legacy ERP systems, but can gradually extend them with enhanced functionality and value.
Q. What are the limitations of the SCM modules found in legacy ERP suites?
A. Legacy ERP suites don’t come packaged with the newer tools or the latest technology. Even when legacy software is ported to the cloud, it’s still the same old technology. This forces customers to deal with version support and the challenges of managing large upgrade projects.
Q. Can you point to new types of data that SCM solutions can exploit?
A. At GEP, we combine new and traditional data sources. Our data lake integrates information from legacy systems as well as data from new platforms such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. We can also pull in third-party data – both structured and unstructured – such as commodity pricing indexes, supplier risk scores, benchmark data, weather updates, and social media trends. Collectively, these diverse data sources make your demand forecasts more accurate and inject efficiency and enhanced reliability into your supply chain.
Q. What digital technologies are having the biggest impact on SCM operations?
A. IoT is having a huge operational impact at many companies. Implementation of an IoT device can occur anywhere. For example, organizations can place sensors in machines to indicate when maintenance needs to be done, or in containers to track shipment locations and status. These sensors can generate a lot of rich data and helps analysts and forecasters make accurate predictions for product delivery. Beyond IoT, technologies ranging from AI to big data analytics to blockchain are helping to transform SCM.
For more information about creating competitive advantage with unified supply chain solutions, please visit www.gep.com