One of the most talked-about topics in the supply chain planning circles is digital transformation. Digital transformation for the supply chain is the quest to move from traditional modes of working to the new age digitized capabilities. Industry practitioners and experts agree that such a transition is necessary to ensure that a company’s supply chain is on the right path to the future. Supply chain managers are rising up to this need and adapting themselves by learning more about it in supply chain management courses. There are so many supply chain management online courses for experienced professionals to come at par with the latest in digital supply chain planning technology.
Digital Transformation is the task of implementing major changes across various processes in an organization with the aim of accelerating performances by investing in digital assets. In general, a digital transformation in any business would bring about changes in the tools used, processes developed, and skills upgraded to bring in more efficiency. The purpose of this transformation is to bring agility and transparency in an organizational setup.
Today, it is a relevant result area for any CEO. Within supply chain planning, they are waking up to the fact that digital transformation is relevant to have an edge over the competition by taking advantage of technologies like big data analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
Digital Supply Chain Trends
Qualified and dependable personnel are the backbone of a good supply chain. In order to retain good talent, it is important to have great technology and systems that they would like to work with. Smart technology allows them to spend more time analysing problems and give value-added recommendations. It makes sense for the organization to aid the capability of good employees so that they are more productive.
There is always pressure on supply chain executives to lower costs and improve efficiency at the same time all the while maintaining higher levels of customer service. This requires material sourcing from remote locations and making products available in far off locations and ensuring deep inroads into all parts of the geography for good distribution. It requires precision in managing the transport and tracking of cargo. AI-enabled tools help companies keep the customer updated about their cargo. It keeps the companies in control of the movement of cargo across all locations through 24*7 communication in real-time.
All this high frequency and intensity of work involves the generation of copious amounts of data. This data can be both structured and unstructured. Big data analytics allows companies to analyse all the data and develop insights relevant to business planning.
Developing a business case for digital transformation in supply chain planning starts from documenting the organization’s ‘As-Is’ process capabilities and jotting down the corresponding performance metrics. Once the managers know where they are, they can plan a path to where they want to be, Thereby, laying down the foundation for performance comparison in the future. It will also provide the fodder for thoughts on areas where the digital transformation might help the organization.
Post this, the managers behind this task would need to envision a future map of their organization and where they want to see it. This would involve listing out the ‘To-Be’ capabilities and the corresponding desired performance metrics in sync with future goals. The envisioning of future capabilities requires strategic planning and brainstorming before everything can crystallize on the capabilities that a company seeks to achieve through any digital transformation.
Finally, a road map of this transformation journey needs to be built. This would include all the milestones the company must reach in a timely schedule if it wants to transition from their ‘As-Is’ state to ‘To-Be’ state. This transition plan should be as detailed as possible to execute perfectly. At the same time, it should have the flexibility to adjust according to new priorities, emerging technologies and market needs as it is a long-term plan.
A major aspect of the business case will also be the skills that the workforce will need in order to make the desired transition. This would require tools like training, study material and even newer approaches to talent acquisition.
Businesses in the supply chain domain or those heavily dependent on them have the task of bringing about digital supply chain transformation within the organization. Digital transformation involves several layers of changes spanning across multiple years and multiple processes in a time consuming and financially expensive manner. Such a disruption from the existing structure to an aspirational envisioned version can be accomplished only when the top management finds lucrative gains from it. A business case of the digital transformation of supply chain planning should be replete with the soft and hard benefits coming directly or indirectly as a result of such a transformation.