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Five steps to gaining visibility and control of supply chain big data

Globalisation and outsourcing have brought consumers more choices and lower prices, while opening up new markets. But the days of the vertically integrated supply chain are over. To be competitive, organisations must adapt their fulfillment processes and learn how to capture, filter and leverage the supply chain data within their now dynamic ecosystem of suppliers, partners and customers.

Information is critical to making good business decisions. End-to-end visibility across the supply chain ecosystem gives a complete picture of the data that is needed, and real-time visibility gives the power to make decisions faster. 87 per cent of supply chain managers view end-to-end supply chain visibility and coordination across the supply chain as a key challenge according to a recent study.

Step 1: Sideline your silos
Old paradigms and legacy systems probably have you locked into silos that are hindering your ability to see and act on the big picture. Instead, think in terms of what supply chain data is most valuable to your business and customers. Then outline that data at a high-level.

Technology can then assist you in creating new workflows and modern business processes that span your existing IT systems – virtually breaking down the silos that are holding you back while still physically keeping your investment in IT infrastructure intact.

Step 2: Collaborate for greater transparency
With a complex, global supply chain, it is highly unlikely that you house all shipment data and the complete real-time picture of your logistics supply chain within your own organisation. To improve visibility and get the big picture you need to operate more effectively, collaboration with your trading partners is mission-critical. To focus more actively on getting collaboration mechanisms in place, organisations should for instance audit existing data flows, map events to their supply chain(s) and work more closely with supply chain partners.

Step 3: Stay alert
With the right flow of supply chain data in place, you can start to reap the rewards through automation. Automated alerts can provide you and your customers with a view of the critical milestones in the supply chain. This enables you to manage shipments by exception, drive greater efficiencies and still ensure you are immediately notified when service level agreements or major milestones are at risk.

Step 4: Empower with self-service
A key benefit of gaining control over your supply chain big data is that you can harness it into self-service portals and dashboards. Self-service delivers immediate efficiency improvements, and it empowers your customers and key partners to access the exact information they need, when they need it and without delays. Offering self-serve, controlled access via the web is a great way of cutting your costs and meeting the needs of worldwide customers and partners – and it instantly eliminates all time and location differences.

Step 5: Turn up the dashboard lights
Having all the information on hand to make decisions is critical to business success so time to let go of paper reports, spreadsheets and legacy screens. Once you’ve established a fluid data flow across your supply chain (as outlined in the steps we’ve already covered), you’ve done the hard part. Now put that data to good use by implementing visual dashboards by business area, by customer, by brand and/or by user type. Leverage real-time charts and graphs to visually depict the status of orders, shipments and the flow of goods.

Don’t be put off by the limitations of your existing operational systems. There are modern technology solutions that can help achieve end-to-end visibility while preserving existing IT investments and keeping your supply chain in motion.

“The global supply chain continues to expand and evolve, generating ever greater volumes of data and making visibility and agility more and more difficult to achieve”, said Evan Puzey, chief marketing officer at Kewill. “By creating a 360 degree view of the supply chain and automating the key stages of alert, assess, act, advise and analyse, the Kewill visibility solutions harness big data, enabling customers to identify, proactively prevent and respond to potential issues, gaining valuable insight to improve customer service, reduce risk and grow revenues.”

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