Data silos in the supply chain
All companies working at every stage of the supply chain need to identify the risks the business may face. Today we live in a data-driven world. Over the past decade, data has become synonymous with value and the world's most valuable resource, and it is nearly impossible for organizations to make accurate decisions without using data.
It may be the case that supply chain data about the localization and conditions of shipments (e.g., temperature, humidity, impacts), or about inventory and operations monitoring are fragmented across different platforms or are disconnected from each other. They are often stored in different applications, which makes it very difficult to simultaneously leverage data generated from different sources, slows down the harmonious operation of digital logistics tools, and ultimately is both a missed competitive advantage and an obstacle to business growth.
This the concept of data silos: an isolated data management system that is unable to function mutually with other systems that are, or should be, connected.
In this way, information is not properly shared, but remains sequestered within each system or subsystem, trapped in a container in the same way that grain is trapped in a silo: there may be a lot of it, and it may be stacked high enough and freely available within those limits, but it has no effect outside those limits. These data silos are proving to be a hindrance for companies, for whom data are fundamental elements of daily operations.
Managing supply chain risks
To survive in an ecosystem where accessing data quickly is a crucial advantage over competitors, companies must be prepared to identify the most unpredictable risks, disseminate this information internally to revamp their supply chain risk management plans, and have unified, quality data at their fingertips.
It is then necessary to lean on technological solutions that strengthen business organization, break down supply chain data silos, and support collaborative safety stock and supplier management, thereby promoting faster, more efficient, resilient, and economically sustainable digital logistics.
“Organizations that rely on manual processes often lack the visibility and agility to move sourcing, production, and distribution activities quickly.”
Let's take a look at the most pressing need for companies working in the supply chain and the elements that can pose risks and constraints to growth.
Digitizing logistics processes is key: 5 irrefutable signs
The logistics industry now agrees: digitization is no longer merely a choice. Rather, it is a prerequisite for reducing costs associated with unforeseen events, identifying risks, and maintaining and enhancing future growth1. And while 42% of organizations admit that their digitization plans have been accelerated by the pandemic2, many supply chain stakeholders have yet to catch the innovation train. It may be useful to ask two questions:
- Are customers getting exactly what they want and when they want it?
- Is the company spending as little as possible to achieve this result?
If the answers are negative, it is clear that your supply chain needs further optimization, which today cannot happen without digitization of logistics processes or the ability to have unified, quality data at your fingertips.
Let's look at some specific signs that it is time to use the digital logistics paradigm in your organization:
- Your supply chain is not resilient: uncertainty has become a fundamental supply chain management challenge that is extremely costly. Whether it's delayed deliveries, port capacity issues, or labor strikes, if your organization is in trouble and unable to change course quickly, you may need to rethink operations. In addition, manual processes can create fatal gaps within the supply chain, slowing activities until the specific bottleneck is identified. Adaptability comes first: when McKinsey surveyed supply chain executives3, 93% said they wanted to make their supply chains much more flexible, agile and resilient.
- Logistics costs are huge: because logistics is a dynamic industry, errors and irregularities are virtually inevitable. But they have a cost, and the more you can prevent them, the more you can save. Logistics managers must collect data and track patterns to identify their weaknesses and work proactively to eliminate them. If collecting and analyzing data is too labor intensive, a digital platform to orchestrate the entire supply chain may be useful. The right automation tools will allow you to optimize capacity utilization, reduce labor-intensive activities, and increase profits.
- Manual processes and poor visibility into the supply chain: the need for teams to manually sift through endless databases, perform accurate capacity estimation and conduct network analysis can be time-consuming and create a breeding ground for errors, especially if there are silos of data in the enterprise. Traditionally, logistics planners tackled operations manually, trying to make sense of vast and cumbersome excel tables. However, not even a brilliant mind could grasp all the complexities of today's supply chains. It is believed that most companies have only 20 percent visibility into their supply chains, as opposed to the 70 to 90 percent needed to address key points of volatility where revenues and costs are at risk4.
- Fragmented communications: with manual processes, you may find that your data flow becomes rigid, hindering information exchange and a clear overview of logistics operations-no amount of excel sheets would be enough to change this. Not only does this prevent scaling, it also wastes the team's time as they have to search through endless email threads just to find the information they need. Digitized communications can provide automated reports, alerts and notifications that draw employees' attention to an issue exactly when it is needed. Fragmented communication is simply a common symptom of a supply chain that is ripe for digitization. Rather than having separate applications and databases, it is useful to have a comprehensive system that aggregates data, offers real-time updates, and provides complete visibility into operations.
- You can't meet customers' growing demands: today's customer demands are growing. From speed of delivery to quality of goods delivered to personalized service, you must adapt your supply chain to meet their expectations, or someone else will. Many products must be transported according to specific temperature and humidity parameters. However, if you adopt manual processes and fail to monitor the status of goods in real time, you risk damaging, spoiling or losing them along the chain. Without digitization, your organization cannot control and manage the transportation of goods. For example, IoT is critical for monitoring transportation conditions. Today's supply chains cannot do without modern technologies. Logistics is constantly evolving, and digitization plays a key role in this.
“Fragmented communication is simply a common symptom of a supply chain that is ripe for digitization.”
Integrated supply chain platforms, Wenda's solution
Wenda, through its Platform and proprietary Intelligent Algorithms, automates supply chain data and supports food, manufacturing, pharma, distribution, and logistics companies to streamline complex operations, gain comprehensive visibility, and coordinate networking.
Wenda automates supply chain data and enables CEOs and Supply Chain Managers to streamline complex operations and overcome unconnected systems. Wenda's proprietary Platform extracts data from orders, BOMs, invoices, packing lists, telematics, ERP, WMS, TMS or other sources to collect and aggregate internal and external supply chain data. Proprietary Intelligent Algorithms harmonize, standardize and structure the data, and enable users to automate repetitive and manually managed tasks; that data is then ready to be used in Wenda's vertical applications to improve extended operations or to be sent to third-party systems.
Wenda's platform differs from other existing solutions in that it provides complete visibility into operations and products, eliminates data silos, and provides access to analyzed and aggregated internal and external supply chain data to ensure all the information to take the right digital logistics actions. Wenda is the only one in the EU to offer a solution that brings together automation and digital supply chain management, accessible to SMEs (Wenda currently works with both SME and Corporate customers).
Supply chain companies need access to data quickly to identify risks and reduce costs associated with unforeseen events.
This can only happen if you bring value to the data you collect at all stages of the chain, but still it is not enough: it is important to have unified, quality data at your fingertips so that you can offer optimal customer service. To secure this competitive advantage, it is now more necessary than ever to invest in a supply chain management technology platform, such as the one Wenda offers.
1. See the article by Supply Chain Brain titled In 2020, Supply-Chain Digitization Is No Longer Optional
2. See the article by Supply Chain Quarterly titled Survey: supply chain digitization plans often stymied by lack of trained staff.
3. See the report by McKinsey titled How COVID-19 is reshaping supply chains
4. See note 1