Ultimately, the supply chain is a major predictor of a company’s success. The move to cloud technology in the supply chain industry is creating renewed interest for investment in transportation management software.
According to technology company Aberdeen Group, leading companies have discovered that deploying solutions in the cloud helps them reduce costs, meet user and customer demands, and improve their agility in providing services. Here are a few of the ways technology creates change.
Most companies would not name running business applications as a core competency. They do it out of necessity, but most consider it a cost center and a drag on resources. Deploying in the cloud frees them from the distraction of running data centers and managing day-to-day mundane tasks, so they can focus on making strategic improvements in their business.
When they deploy in the cloud, companies get guaranteed service levels that generally exceed what they can provide in-house. In addition, since most cloud centers consider security a major part of their business, they provide physical, biometric and software security that is well beyond what the typical company’s data center provides. As a result, these companies enjoy improved performance and uptime with less risk while they focus on their strategic objectives.
While some people think that the cloud is more expensive, it’s in fact the opposite: Consider the cost of the enhanced security and increased uptime discussed above. Then, add the time the in-house team spends on upgrades, patches and other tasks that prevent them from working with users to streamline business processes or generate new insights. The opportunity cost of these missed process improvements adds up quickly.
The same research cited above shows that 46 percent of companies that implemented a private cloud saw a reduction in overall IT expenses. In addition, 71 percent reported easier application management and administration; and 45 percent reported a reduction in time to deploy applications.
According to a study from professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers, the digital supply chain is here, and it consists of many technologies: cloud computing, integrated planning and execution, logistics visibility, smart warehousing, prescriptive analytics, 3-D printing, IoT and more. Companies that effectively harness these technologies to provide greater visibility have an advantage: Cloud computing enables companies at every node in the supply network to communicate securely and react faster, creating a resilient yet responsive supply chain.
This research goes on to note that companies with highly digitized supply chains can expect annual efficiency gains of around 4 percent and revenue boosts of nearly 3 percent. Logistics visibility is one of the key elements driving these improvements.
Easier Accessibility and Greater Mobility
In addition to the greater uptime most companies enjoy in the cloud, a major advantage is increased accessibility. Cloud applications are available on any device running a modern mainstream browser, making it easy for people to find the information they need when they need it. The user interface on most cloud applications is simple and requires little or no user training. While it may seem odd to call the user interface on serious business applications “consumer grade,” in this context, it means a fast ramp up for partners, suppliers and even casual users. Many applications have built-in visualizations that paint a clear picture of current status.
To make visibility and accessibility even better, countless companies have created mobile apps that simplify finding and communicating even more for maximum responsiveness.
Autonomous Transport and Delivery
Hardly a day goes by without a mention in the press of autonomous vehicles, but the most interesting autonomous vehicles are not passenger vehicles but part of the logistics supply chain. From OTTO, a division of Uber delivering beer across Colorado; to Starsky Robotics’ remote controller for trucks to drive alone on highways; to Embark’s retrofitted Peterbilt trucks, the options for self-driving transport for commercial goods grow each day.
These are just a few of the ways technology is driving competition and affecting supply chain efficiency.
David Adams is Director of Business Intelligence and Project Management at Unyson. David has responsibility over analytics, reporting, customer implementations, and managing continuous improvement initiatives. He works closely with new and existing customers to identify, implement and support their ever-changing supply chain needs.