Supply chain visibility encompasses an organization’s tracking and monitoring of goods, information, and resources throughout its entire network — from initial sourcing to final delivery. In today’s increasingly complex landscape, visibility is critical for improving customer service, reducing costs, boosting inventory management, limiting disruptions, and mitigating risk. With a greater need for visibility than ever before, supply chain organizations must focus on improving oversight and operational management in 2023 and beyond.
Recognizing the significance of supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility shapes decision-making by providing organizations with real-time insights and robust data that can optimize operations. But, to achieve complete supply chain visibility, teams need an end-to-end view across every facet of their processes — from demand and supply to inventory and shipments.
Unfortunately, businesses face common obstacles while pursuing a more transparent supply chain. These challenges include disparate management systems and siloed teams, insufficient real-time data on operations, and poor stakeholder communication.
What are the consequences of poor supply chain visibility?
Poor supply chain visibility can have last effects on an organization. Teams can anticipate higher costs due to inefficiencies, such as excess inventory, expedited shipping, and production delays. Insufficient oversight of factors like inventory levels, order statuses, and demand patterns can lead to stockouts or poor use of resources — which drives costs and risk. Delays in order fulfillment, inaccurate delivery estimates, and lacking customer service can leave customers dissatisfied and cause potential business loss. Finally, production imbalances, inadequate inventory planning, and missed sales opportunities are commonplace without visibility into real-time demand data and market trends.
Strategies to drive visibility in 2023 and beyond
Considering the importance of supply chain visibility for long-term efficiency and success, it is hardly surprising that organizations across the value chain are introducing strategies to boost network oversight. Some of the most common approaches to achieving this include:
- Adopting cloud-based platforms
Utilizing cloud-based solutions helps supply chain teams centralize data storage and access, supporting real-time information sharing across network stakeholders and enabling better collaboration. In-depth oversight of inventory levels, order statuses, and transportation logistics drives production and distribution transparency. With a report on cloud adoption from O’Reilly finding that more than 90% of organizations use the cloud — and projections of increases in the coming years — this is often a simple opportunity to enhance visibility. Scalable and cost-efficient cloud platforms are a bonus for businesses in the long run.
- Leveraging IoT devices
The Internet of Things (IoT) — particularly sensors and RFID tags — has taken the supply chain world by storm, providing real-time location, condition, and performance data. With visibility into the movement and status of different assets, organizations can proactively monitor and manage operations while reducing the risk of disruptions. According to Gartner’s Digital Business Impact on the Supply Chain Survey, 59% of organizations have partially or fully deployed IoT across the business, with more teams planning to do so in the future.
- Embracing real-time data analytics
Modern supply chain success is not solely reliant on accessing and storing massive amounts of data. Businesses also need real-time analytics to help them make the most of their unique information. Leveraging advanced analytics tools and techniques — available with most cloud ERP systems — offers organizations actionable insights into demand patterns, inventory and logistics management, and production planning.
- Establishing collaborative partnerships
Establishing collaborative partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and logistics providers can go a long way toward improving visibility and resilience. The benefits of strong, collaborative partnerships include sharing data, forecasts, and plans that support aligned schedules, streamlined processes, and optimized inventory levels.
The impact of visibility on long-term supply chain operations
Visibility is a priority as supply chains become more complex and expansive. By taking steps to improve supply chain oversight and management, organizations can reap numerous benefits, including:
- Improved lead times: Organizations are better equipped to identify bottlenecks and optimize processes when monitoring and tracking products across production and distribution — reducing lead times and promoting timely delivery.
- Boosting the customer experience: Visibility solutions enable inventory tracking, more accurate demand forecasting, and better customer service. Improved order accuracy and fulfillment increase customer satisfaction.
- Better supplier collaboration: Establishing stronger relationships with suppliers by sharing real-time data and insights from improved visibility can improve supplier performance, reduce stockouts, and promote better cross-functional coordination.
- Greater productivity: Improved oversight gives teams a closer look into the unique inefficiencies, redundant tasks, and disorganized workflows impacting their businesses. Addressing these issues is an effective strategy to drive productivity and operational effectiveness while reducing costs.
- Strengthened sustainability efforts: Enhancing visibility makes it easier to identify where a company can reduce waste, optimize transportation routes, and implement ethical sourcing practices to augment sustainability efforts.
With Oracle Cloud solutions and the Oracle Fusion Analytics platform, businesses can increase visibility across their end-to-end operations. These Oracle products provide access to real-time insights, data analytics capabilities, and collaborative features that empower informed decision-making and proactive problem-solving for optimized supply chain performance. In addition, the Inspirage Enterprise Control Tower connects functional silos and disparate systems to provide deeper insights, aid quicker decision-making, and deliver actionable intelligence. If you are ready to start the journey to complete supply chain visibility, contact us to learn more.