The $26T global supply-chain impacts the day-to-day business of nearly every industry. The economic impact of inadequate supply-chain infrastructure and connectivity is enormous, negatively affecting local and global economies, increasing the costs goods and leading to more corporate bankruptcies. To streamline efficiencies and business operations, all industries should empower themselves with complete supply-chain visibility.
What was once considered a “bonus” for companies, supply-chain visibility is now required to serve today’s better informed, on-demand and influential consumer. To be frank, without complete visibility, companies cannot reach maximum operational efficiencies. In today’s market, efficient operations are a must to prevent closed storefronts and bankruptcy.
The issue is that supply-chain visibility remains largely misunderstood. Let’s take a closer look at the what, why and how of supply-chain visibility:
What does end-to-end supply-chain visibility truly mean?
As defined by Gartner, end-to-end supply-chain visibility is, “A capability that provides controlled access and transparency to accurate, timely and complete plans, events and data within and across organizations and services.”
Supply-chain visibility consists of capturing supply-chain data and freight transactions as information is exchanged between systems. The most crucial aspect of achieving end-to-end visibility lies in the architectural setup and/or how a company and systems are connected to business partners and their networks.
What is currently preventing supply-chain visibility?
Companies have sought to improve supply-chain visibility for decades without much progress or success. How is that possible in the era of Big Data and automation?
Processes to share data across supply-chain and transportation networks are still managed through manual spreadsheets, email/phone calls, FTP, website scraping or point-to-point electronic data interchange (EDI). With these manual or pre-Internet processes, the exchange of information along with rules that facilitate data transfers are not advanced enough to create end-to-end visibility. Instead of a network-centric view, those antiquated systems deliver fragmented, out-of-date visibility (at best).
Investments across the logistics sector are growing, with over $5 billion projected to be injected across supply-chain companies in 2016 alone. These investments will be pointless unless companies build a digital backbone to overcome the connectivity gaps that currently exist in supply chains caused by EDI and legacy systems. In fact, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have collapsed since 2002 because they did not keep up with modern technology. Supply-chain companies are no exception.
How to create supply-chain visibility via the power of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
Companies should seek solutions that enable access and transparency to accurate, timely and complete data. Unlike EDI or legacy systems, APIs offer a modern middleware solution that provides the required connections. Just as APIs have overhauled other industries by re-conceptualizing the end-user experience and brought us apps like Uber, Google Maps and Pandora, they are poised to revolutionize the logistics industry.
Never assume that just one solution can provide end-to-end visibility across all supply-chain transactions or modes of transportation. Complete visibility expands beyond traditional truckload tracking and demands the entire freight transaction set.
To remain competitive, companies should take the pulse of the entire spectrum of supply networks and freight transactions. By adopting a single API-based network solution that provides a suite of freight services, companies can speed up visibility during transportation while delivering superior value and service to end customers.
Jett McCandless is CEO of project44, a revolutionary enterprise SaaS platform connecting every aspect of the global supply chain through on-demand visibility. McCandless has nearly two decades of experience in transportation and logistics, and has actively invested in, and advised, a number of industry start-ups from idea stages to expansion. To learn more, visit www.p-44.com.
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