As digital transformation rolls out and more supply chain operations come online, the need for synchronicity across all systems is growing. The answer is a streamlined platform and management system.
As a business model designed to synergize processes, tools, and communication largely through a single, scalable network, a platform creates value from the exchanges made by all involved parties and systems. Also, it can be both internal and external, spanning across multiple industries.
The easiest way to understand a platform is to consider the sheer number of software applications a single company or operation might rely on. Even when singling out a specific department or function, numerous pieces of software are likely in use. A platform, however, will unite those separate tools under one easy-to-access and on-demand portal.
An alarming 44 percent of respondents say the “Amazon effect” has a drastic impact on their logistics, supply chain and transportation operations. To stay competitive, they must adopt and utilize supply chain platforms that streamline shipping and fulfillment practices, if only to get their goods to customers much sooner.
The reach of a “platform” stretches way beyond just software, however. It can help to:
- Solve complex data management challenges
- Increase data visibility
- Streamline communication and collaboration
- Extract and highlight new business insights
The goal is to eliminate the tedium, inefficiencies and inaccuracies that come from using multiple, uncooperative systems. Duplicate data entry, for instance, often occurs when separate systems make use of the same data fields and information. This problem essentially doubles the work for those involved, balloons labor and time costs, and is more likely to cause errors down the line.
And in the modern supply chain, where an increasing number of systems and processes are going digital, it makes sense to have a central governing platform to sync up everything, including customer relations and interactions. In a recent survey, 30 percent of supply chain leaders highlight the need to respond to customer mandates faster and deliver accurate and unique fulfillment opportunities. Supply chain management systems and platforms are precisely what makes such a thing possible.
Domestic supply chain operations are challenging enough, but things get dicier when you factor in global processes. Many providers have to contend with freight problems at international borders, for example. Two out of three shippers experience freight problems at border crossings, many of which involve further customs complications. Even something as simple as inaccurate paperwork filings can cause severe penalties and fines. This issue could easily happen to operations with multiple data entry and submission points.
The rise of the supply chain network
Supply chains have evolved from linear pipelines to much more fluid, dynamic ecosystems. We can directly attribute much of this change to modern technologies that provide the foundation and opportunities needed to streamline the entire field.
Today’s supply chain is more of an open network, with data constantly flowing in all directions. This data informs the revision and function of the ecosystem, allowing it to be more proactive.
Platforms are the driving force behind this process, as they collect, merge and consolidate all the various systems, applications, processes and information. They offer many benefits, including total visibility, the uniformity of data, better invoicing and tracking, service and cloud-based opportunities, to name a few.
Because of how supply chain platforms incorporate real-time data, AI and machine learning solutions also present several opportunities. These technologies can completely automate the process and could even create predictive models that lead to more numerous and bountiful successes. These abilities are hugely beneficial today, as logistics labor shortages are on the horizon.
The unifying and synergistic nature of supply chain platforms makes them so beneficial in today’s hyper-digital world.
Platforms are a staple of digital transformation
Any companies that are either planning to or already enforcing a digital transformation will recognize the value in a supply chain platform. The increased visibility and data uniformity benefits alone are worth the investment. Many digital transformation strategies call for the adoption and integration of synchronized platforms as it is.
Technology and the need for more efficient operations inherently demand the use of supply chain platforms, and this demand is not fading anytime soon. Demand will likely accelerate as time goes on and the industry shifts to a more dynamic system.
Developing and integrating a digital supply chain strategy will eventually be necessary to thrive. It’s about time everyone got on board, especially those who are not already.