The HD picture
Visibility is a top priority for most companies. But while many claim to have it, few actually have a technology that takes each small ‘pixel’ of information and creates a true, high definition (HD) picture of what’s happening in their supply chain. Silos of information are common; a collaborative HD picture is not.
For example, think about the pixels that make up your beautiful 1080p screen on the HD TV standing in your living room or hanging on your wall at home. Now, imagine going back to standard definition TV for things like movies and sports. In those cases, it can be nearly impossible to read a sign in the background or make out a number on a uniform. Now, take that a step further and imagine big black holes of missing information. Maybe you see the football helmet, a few cleats and the stadium, but you can’t see the ball or the end zones. You have TV, but is that really TV?
Those ‘black hole’ information gaps are common in the global supply chain. But cloud platforms fill them by sitting above the physical supply chain to create a virtual informational replica of what’s actually happening on the ground, around the globe. The cloud platform captures ‘pixels’ from all players and systems across the network. That information is rationalized and linked to related objects, parties and processes. An HD picture is assembled of the supply chain and made available to all stakeholders. So as the picture changes, everyone in the network sees that same picture and acts accordingly.
There are many other analogies that help shed light on why cloud is a big deal in the supply chain space. Probably the most important shift in mindset is that many of the benefits are not about software applications or functionality. While screen shots and slick demos have been seducing buyers for years, the traditional software systems were always designed for the single company. Today, supply chain technology must be capable of working fluidly and quickly between companies as networks. This is a domain that is ideally suited for cloud.
A utility-centric platform brings entire trading communities onto a single, shared network. New information models that move data to the center of a network support the creation of virtual replicas of the physical supply chain to give entire networks an HD picture of what’s really happening—at any point in the supply chain with any partner.
The future cloud supply chain
Major companies across business sectors continue to make the shift to cloud—especially in the CRM and HR technology spaces—and cloud users must brace themselves for a new era of global commerce efficiency through the emerging cloud supply chain. Evident of this are the major corporations going public with their stories—such as at CSCMP where attendees witnessed Pfizer talking about supply chain segmentation, supported by virtualized information layer in the cloud.
As established big software providers continue to hammer their cloud offerings, companies interested in moving to the cloud should not only listen to what the early movers are doing and saying. They must also look for the community aspect—not just hosted software—that is key to unlocking the primary benefit of cloud.