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7 Steps to Supply Chain Digital Transformation

Updated: Sep 8

Introduction

Digital Transformation: Many businesses are either getting started in areas like marketing, sales, and customer experience or are well into their digital transformation projects. Unfortunately, these tendencies have taken a long to pervade supply networks, especially as geopolitical and economic uncertainty rise.

In addition, the coronavirus outbreak has been with us for a while, revealing a slew of supply chain flaws that companies weren't aware of: whether it's in their supplier networks, planning procedures, logistical systems, organisational maturity, or adaptability. Maintaining company efficiency, competitive advantages, and future-proofing against potential shocks all require digitally changing supply chains. More significantly, in a fast-paced market, digitalisation enables companies to move swiftly on new possibilities.


How is digital transformation helping in supply chain management?

Only 7% of firms were enjoying any advantages from digital supply chain planning, according to a ToolsGroup and Spinnaker poll of supply chain experts. However, all of that looks to be changing as a result of the epidemic. According to QIMA's assessment of 200 brands, two-thirds of them believe COVID-19 is speeding up their supply chain digitalisation. However, getting these ideas off the ground is difficult, and many supply chains lack the resources to create, test and scale technological projects.

According to Gartner, fewer than half of companies have established or intend to adopt a supply chain digital transformation strategy, and more than half don't have one at all. When supply chains fail to keep up with technological and economic developments, they might soon find themselves on the losing end. According to Pamela Mar of The Fung Group, the digital divide between the top, creative supply networks and the bottom, overspecialized, and inflexible supply chains is widening.


Benefits of supply chain digital transformation

Leaders know that allowing digital transformation in the supply chain helps them achieve their short- and long-term objectives. Some of the advantages of supply chain digital transformation include-

  1. In an unpredictable economy, flexible supply networks are essential, especially given the prospect of future calamities and political pressures. Diversification and options for rapid sourcing, capacity, or demand-related decisions are made possible by digitising supply chains. Increase data visibility and keep a consistent sales record, inventory counts, backorder rates, and other performance indicators using digital solutions. Cloud-based digital systems, for example, make it easier to store and remember data, making it easier to make adjustments, especially amid lockdowns, tensions, and other threats.

  2. For merchants and sellers, supply chains often use top-down administration and communication. Many distributors that want to expand their product lines concentrate on reconciliation, tracking, and reporting. However, communication about faults, delays, or other forms of disruptions early in the supply chain cycle is just as critical. Digital solutions, such as monitoring tools and connections between the ERP and eCommerce systems, can assist businesses in making faster and better choices earlier on. Proactive decision-making enhances efficiency, eliminates waste and chargebacks, and keeps operations operating smoothly.

  3. A robust foundation is required for supply chains to be resilient. Transparency and efficiency aren't enough; you also need the capacity to expand and react as circumstances change. So start with a powerful and adaptable B2B eCommerce platform that you can create and develop with, without having to rebuild your supply chain, to be competitive in the years and decades ahead. This flexibility provides organisations with more leeway, for example, many onboarding new suppliers, especially in new industries or regions. It enables companies to adapt to market demands, expand current stores, open new ones, and expand into other territories.


digital transformation


Seven steps to supply digital chain transformation

The present crisis has highlighted the need of developing flexible and robust supply networks. Most companies foresee a shift from traditional supply chain procedures and toward a network based on data and technology. To turn your supply chain into an intelligent digital network, follow these seven steps.

1. Begin by establishing a clear vision for your digital supply chain transformation. Then, make sure the vision is in line with your company's objectives. These objectives can be linked to business goals like increased supply chain visibility, better and quicker decision-making, automated processes, and integrated customer interaction.

2. Determine the competencies you'll need to fulfil your transformation goals and the gaps you'll encounter. Keep an eye out for:

  • Data collection and analysis: Evaluate the generation, collecting, and analysis capabilities of existing systems. Is the data easily accessible and usable for drawing practical conclusions?

  • Existing systems: Do they make use of technology that can help you achieve your new objectives? Is the technology in line with the company's goals? Determine which digital solutions are most suited to achieving the intended results.

  • Determine if the workforce has the essential capabilities to collaborate with and adapt to the new company model.


3. To obtain a comprehensive, end-to-end view of the digital supply chain, use a single platform. Then, streamline essential activities like demand forecasting and planning, inventory management, warehouse management, and logistics with increased transparency. The main goal here is to make every job and process in the extended supply chain more visible.

4. The cloud facilitates the creation of shared solutions that can be accessed in real-time by numerous stakeholders. However, you must first evaluate and determine which areas your organisation may gain the most from cloud computing. Supply planning, procurement, inventory management, warehousing, transportation and logistics, product lifecycle management, and customer service are examples of these functions. For example, cloud-based supply chain management software may increase operational efficiency and collaboration with suppliers and partners by replacing on-premise supply chain management software.

5. You can simplify chores and draw meaning from vast amounts of data using automated planning. Distinguish between planning activities that can be automated and those that require human interaction to conclude. Look at less important planning procedures that can be automated. Processes that entail complicated conditions or need coordination amongst planners should not be automated.

6. Supply chain professionals in a digital network rely on real-time data to make educated judgments. It also makes it easier for them to work successfully with suppliers, partners, and other departments. Real-time data improves visibility across the supply chain and aids in the detection of possible interruptions. In addition, AI-powered analytical tools can help you extract meaningful insights and increase your planning ability. For example, analytics can aid in preventing a predicted out-of-stock scenario and the adjustment of inventory as needed. Alternatively, you could get a notification to speed up product production to meet rising consumer demand.

7. The move to a digital supply chain would be fruitless if the staff is not aligned with the new procedures, despite the adoption of modern technologies. Therefore, digital technology should be integrated with people, processes, and management infrastructure in this transformation. Teams may not operate efficiently under the new business model without such integration and fail to achieve the objectives.

Conclusion

Brands are rethinking how they do business in light of the rapidly changing technology world, global and national conflicts, and rising customer expectations. As a result, brands are reimagining their supply chains to get more control over performance, flexibility, redirecting, and stability. Now is the perfect moment to start putting these strategies into action for organisations re-evaluating their supply chains, eCommerce operations, and sales strategy. One of the most effective and safest methods to construct a resilient organisation is establishing a modern, digitalised, interconnected supply chain


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