Businesses from logistics, manufacturing, and retail sectors can hardly stay afloat in the modern world without a supply chain management system in place. But just having SCM software is not enough to meet high industry standards nowadays. As IT solutions become outdated on average every 2-5 years, company’s software needs to be regularly upgraded so it can keep bringing real value to a business.
Today, we’ll discuss the best innovative features you can implement in your existing supply chain management system in order to enhance its effectiveness.
The AI-powered analytical functionality gives supply chain managers an opportunity to get accurate predictions of market trends, customer demands, and other essential internal and external factors. As a result, advanced forecasting features enable better strategic planning as well as facilitate more informed decision-making at every stage of the supply chain (see the chart below).
But not only that. Adding predictive analytics to a supply chain management system can also make you completely rethink the way your business operates in general. For instance, Amazon and other market leaders are now actively working on so-called “predictory shipping”. It will allow companies to start a delivery process before a customer even orders a product.
The fast and error-free inventory management is one of the greatest challenges retail and logistics businesses face. A real-time replanning feature has the potential to resolve it once and for all by automating the entire process. This approach, also known as “zero touch order processing”, is mainly aimed at the elimination of required manual intervention from the moment of order intake to the moment of order fulfillment.
In particular, real-time replanning functionality allows for the constant monitoring of inventory levels, ad hoc planning of replenishment and production schedules, as well as instantaneous order confirmation and delivery setup. In addition, the advanced version of this feature may let customers reroute the shipment or change the delivery time via a mobile application.
The delivery of goods has always been associated with many risks which are especially high when it comes to entering new markets or offering some unconventional services. Simulation functionality added to management software (either SCM or ERP) may significantly mitigate most of them by digitally representing the real-world systems with all the products, customers, vehicles, warehouses, etc.
Today, most simulation models are built with machine learning technology in the core. Hence, besides identifying high and low impact events, they can analyze a vast amount of data and improve the accuracy of predictions over time. In addition, a simulation model may be connected to an actual supply chain with the help of IoT technology that makes them a digital copy of the latter. Such digital twins take visibility to a new level and help the company’s management optimize the processes.
Nowadays, supply chains become more complex and their management requires greater visibility. This means that the top company’s officers need to have an opportunity to take the bird’s eye view on all the process in real time. On the other hand, logistics managers of the lower level of seniority should be able to monitor even the most minor operation and track products in transit up to their final destination.
To reach such a level of transparency throughout the supply chain, companies must supplement their logistics management solutions with advanced functionality based on AI and IoT technologies. Its implementation will likely require significant investments at the beginning since you’ll need to upgrade not only your software but also the hardware. However, a business will also get many benefits which include saving costs, greater performance, improved automation, and ultimately — enhanced customer satisfaction.
Even the most basic supply chains usually involve several companies as well as many people who perform different tasks. Naturally, to complete all deliveries successfully, everyone participating in the process needs to stay constantly connected and informed on the key events. That’s why modern supply chain management systems have to contain collaboration tools for internal team and external partners.
The list of exact features aimed at the enhancement of collaboration will depend on the specifics of your business processes. For example, this may be something simple like communication and task assignment platform (see the chart below).
Alternatively, you may consider upgrading your supply chain software with more advanced functionality that includes status reporting, document management, inventory alerts, self-service portals for customers and partners, enhanced traceability, etc.
The disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things have a great impact on the way the supply chain management evolves. Hence, to remain relevant and effective, SCM systems should be constantly upgraded with new functionality. Otherwise, a business will be able to meet neither market requirements nor ever-growing customer expectations.