Supply chain shortages, labor constraints and the rising costs of doing business are all pushing companies to rethink their digitalization strategies and invest in technology platforms that help them work smarter, better and faster in any business conditions.
Facing great levels of volatility, more external disruption than ever, constantly-changing customer preferences, and the continuous drive to “do more with less” supply chain managers need all the help they can get right now. Plagued by siloed decision making, disparate technology solutions, inconsistent responses and poor visibility, the modern supply chain is in need of a digitalization tune-up.
Defined by Gartner as the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities, digitalization is basically the process of moving to a digital business. And while many organizations were already several steps down their digital transformation journeys before the global COVID-19 pandemic, the outbreak and subsequent impacts greatly accelerated those efforts for companies across most industries.
Any company previously using a combination of analog (e.g., spreadsheets and clipboards) and digital (software, Cloud, AI) processes to run their supply chains, for example, quickly stepped up their investment in the latter to offset the business impacts of the global pandemic. “The focus is no longer on how to create a digital business model, it’s on how to fully execute on digital,” Gartner’s Bart De Muynck told SupplyChain247. He expects this focus to stay in place over the next 6-12 months as companies realign and recover.
It’s not that unusual for organizations and even entire industries to run in a constant state of instability. To keep up and adapt, companies are left with no other choice but to keep redesigning their strategies to adapt to the changing behavior of the consumers. The global pandemic put this theory into overdrive by inflicting some sweeping uncertainty and unpredictability on industries across the board.
“As individuals and businesses adapt to the newfound measures, people are discovering more productive methods to perform the same task, which is already making a major impact on the digital roadmap,” Global Trade Magazine points out.
“While digitalizing operational processes has been on the agenda of all companies big or small, it was something they always seem to put off,” the publication continues. “Automated end-to-end operational processes or live chat has always been something that businesses talked about but would ultimately put on the back burner because they could not account for the impact of internal change to support it.”
My how things have changed. Now, companies are implementing new processes overnight, adjusting to the technology, adopting digitalized mindsets and readily easing into the changes. “This quick progression of digital processes has brought about a new mindset,” Global Trade Magazine adds, “welcoming the future with an open mind to give the new technology a chance.”
3 Steps to Success
Companies that are either just beginning their supply chain digitalization efforts or those that want to do a better job in this area can heed Gartner’s advice on how to ensure a successful business case, learn, understand and align with your organization’s business priorities in a way that supports the digitalization. Here are three ways companies can advance their digitalization agendas by creating strong business cases in their favor:
- Pursue digital initiatives that drive quick business growth. Any digital investment that helps the organization return to revenue growth will be approved quickly and efficiently, Gartner says. “Revisit your supply chain operating model to support new digital business models, such as e-commerce, and digitally enabled products, such as subscription-based and pay-as-you-go options,” it advises.
- Leverage digital supply chain initiatives to support cost optimization. Supply chain is often the go-to function for CEOs to optimize organizational costs, so be prepared with ideas on how to leverage digitalization to optimize the supply chain while protecting it from linear cost-cutting.
- Enhance supply chain agility through digitalization. “The pandemic exposed supply chain capability gaps that chief supply chain officers are now pressured to close,” Gartner points out, noting that an agile supply chain is one that can sense and respond to unanticipated changes in demand or supply and do so quickly and reliably, without sacrificing cost or quality.
“To secure C-suite support, walk senior leaders through the short-term initiatives necessary along the journey and define the associated business benefits,” Gartner concludes, “and also articulate a bold long-term digital vision, clearly explaining how it will help the CEO achieve the company’s future goals.”
Taking Supply Chain Digitalization to New Heights
IntelliTrans’ Global Control Tower provides high levels of supply chain transparency; aggregates, completes, and enhances data from a variety of sources; offers visibility into and execution of different aspects of the supply chain; and generates data-driven alerts and analytics that ask deeper questions and deliver meaningful insights.
By leveraging tracking information, the Global Control Tower provides analytics that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) like fleet cycle time, origin/destination dwell time, lane and hauler performance, back orders, freight spend, load optimization, and more. With their rate, equipment, lease, tracking, and invoice data in a central repository that’s accessible 24/7, companies can position themselves for success in any market conditions.