The Shift from Traditional to Digital Supply Chain Management

by Max Manikian, on July 5, 2018

Digitization and automation in the supply chain may represent the keys to greater efficiency and productivity. These processes aren't about creating logistics operations without human input. Rather, they're designed to create more strategic opportunities for employees, taking manual, repetitive tasks out of their hands.

Instead of consisting of one overarching technology deployment, digitization is driven by organization-wide change. A number of processes will have to take on new characteristics to give companies the full digital supply chain experience. As more businesses take the dive into this new style of operations, companies that retain too many outdated manual processes may fall behind.

Bridging the Gap

How can an organization with a traditional supply chain implement more digital processes and move toward a forward-looking approach? According to a recent Deloitte Insights report, every business will have a slightly different take on digitization due to the inherent uniqueness of operations. Determining which area of infrastructure to upgrade first must happen on a case-by-case basis, starting with projects that will immediately and impactfully address current requirements or shortcomings.

The top priorities for businesses that have begun their digital supply chain journeys, according to Deloitte, include demand and supply planning, infrastructure improvement, and risk assessment. Analytics improvements are popular because many organizations currently struggle with inaccurate forecasting, while shoring up infrastructure is simply a necessity for businesses with outdated systems - though it can be time-consuming and costly. Performing security and risk assessments is simply a good practice in industries where uncertainty can be a huge setback.

Employees study a giant digital dashboard.What does tomorrow's supply chain look like?

Keeping the Customer in Mind

While supply chain digitization is an internally focused initiative, it shouldn't occur in a vacuum. Supply Chain Management presented the views of UPS Chief Information Officer Juan Perez, who reminded fellow executives to ensure their modernization efforts improve the customer experience. When drawing up near-term objectives for digital improvements, clients' preferences should never be far from leaders' minds.

Increasingly, digitized supply chains' enhanced data capture and access can give better real-time data to customers and employees. Perez stated consumers want "convenience, choice and control," and when supply chains become more digital and data-driven, they can create services that provide these benefits.

Building Necessary Infrastructure

There are several essential points in the supply chain that need attention to make next steps possible. A centralized, automated labeling solution can ensure the data representing physical items moving from one location to another is accurate, current and accessible. If label systems are fragmented, critical data points may be missing, resulting in errors, delays and disruptions that are counter-productive to achieving a digital supply chain.

Topics:Supply Chain