Visibility and collaboration among businesses and suppliers is crucial in navigating today’s global supply chain hurdles. AI- and machine learning-backed technology solutions enable collaborative networking, help grow profits, and lower operating costs.
It’s no secret that companies face major hurdles and risks when it comes to global supply chains. The hurdles include pandemic-related disruptions, short product life cycles, quickly changing consumer preferences, growing regulations, and resource volatility.
One way to protect against disruptions and manage increasingly complex supply chains is to enhance collaboration with suppliers by committing to building a collaborative network. A McKinsey survey of over 100 large organizations across sectors shows companies that make it a practice of collaborating with their suppliers see operating costs savings of 5%-10%, higher growth, and better profits than their peers.
Eliminate silos, strengthen the chain
A collaborative network is one in which all parties — a company, its suppliers, shippers, and distributors — have visibility into the supply chain through real-time data. Companies have insight into first-, second-, and third-tier suppliers, and all parties can respond to the data and act together.
“Without a supply chain collaboration network, everyone is working in their silos, and processes can be easily broken,” says Alex Zhong, director of supply chain solutions at GEP. “This type of network glues the supply chain together and makes it stronger. In today’s disruptive environment, this is very important.”
Synchronize with the right tools
Yet, many companies struggle to build a truly collaborative network because they lack the right tools. To gain visibility, make data easy to share, and achieve true collaboration, companies need a solution backed with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology. This type of tool allows all parties to seamlessly work together to act quickly and in an agile way to update, maintain, and put data to work.
And while leaders, including CIOs, often understand the importance of visibility, many don’t fully grasp the importance of collaboration and of having a holistic platform or solution that makes it possible. A recent survey of procurement and supply chain professionals by GEP, in partnership with NC State University, shows that while CIOs recognize the critical importance of supply chain visibility solutions, their understanding of the need for collaboration solutions and analytics applications falls behind.
“This virtual network is the key to smoothing flows in the physical supply chain,” Zhong says. “Organizations need to have a shared platform so they can synchronize.”
An effective virtual collaborative network gives companies visibility that helps them run operations more smoothly and head off potential problems by accessing data faster. For example, a company with a solid virtual collaborative network can see merchandise in their warehouses globally and precisely and determine if they need to increase supply or run a promotion to move goods. Then, the company can quickly work with shippers and distributors to act.
“Companies can get to the right pace and action faster,” says Zhong. “Responding collaboratively makes you stronger.”
Forecast risks before they occur
GEP’s modern, holistic 360-view collaboration solution on a low-code/no-code platform gives companies visibility into their supply chain and facilitates a strong, collaborative network. The platform allows collaboration from order management, forecasting, capacity planning, inventory and quality, to cost management. It gives real-time insight into potentially disruptive events or risks that could interfere with a company’s supply chain before a problem occurs. It has a nimble workflow approach that can be modified or changed on the fly by users outside of IT, helping offload work from IT staff.
With this solution, customers get revolutionary value from the network, and it’s simple to onboard their suppliers to the platform and costs them nothing. Zhong likens this type of collaborative virtual network to having an accurate weather forecast ahead of time — companies don’t have to, and shouldn’t, wait until the storm hits to act.
“The visibility helps you run things much more actively,” he says. “Both visibility and collaboration are extremely important in today’s world.”
GEP delivers transformative supply chain solutions that help organizations become more agile and resilient. Our end-to-end comprehensive, unified solutions harness technology to change organizations for the better. To learn more about how to gain valuable visibility into your supply chain and start your collaborative network, visit GEP.