6 Ways to Future-Proof Your Supply Chain


Dominic Regan, Oracle Senior Director for Value Chain Execution, wrote about the future of supply chains and six ways to future-proof your supply chain moving forward.

Autonomous delivery will surely play a part in the future of supply chains, but there are other factors to consider as well. Modern Cloud applications for supply chain management (SCM) are helping supply chains transform in a way that enables them to flex and respond as new technologies emerge and customer expectations change.

Supply chains are the backbone of product-centric companies, and they have the potential to affect overall performance—for better or worse. In order to keep up with emerging technology and changing customer expectations, organizations are looking for connected, responsive, and agile supply chains that can rapidly process customer orders and fulfill them to meet customer expectations. Ultimately, organizations are looking to keep their supply chains competitive.

The six characteristics of adaptive and agile supply chains are:

  1. Powerful Cloud-based applications
  2. Integrated emerging technologies
  3. Easily accessible information
  4. Scalability and security
  5. Easy-to-maintain and update systems
  6. An understanding partner

Powerful Cloud-Based Applications

The first step toward achieving an agile and responsive supply chain is to replace siloed legacy systems and processes with connected Cloud applications. On-premises SCM applications can be limited in scope and are rarely designed to support fast and informed order fulfillment. These siloed information structures result in a lack of visibility into supply chain processes and the inability to share and adjust to changes.

On the other hand, an end-to-end Cloud platform of connected SCM applications creates a digital thread that connects products, services, and assets with customers, employees, and partners. This results in comprehensive, real-time visibility, communication, and control.

Modern supply chains use Cloud solutions to:

  • Work across systems and devices to enable everyone in multiple locations to keep tabs on tasks and process hand-offs
  • Analyze large amounts of data and provide rich insights to supply chain members
  • Use social collaboration and mobile capabilities to streamline processes, work more effectively, and connect instantly—regardless of location

Integrated Emerging Technologies

Cloud solutions provide intuitive, built-in, and up-to-date analytics, and they are continuously using advanced technologies like AI and machine learning more and more. These emerging technologies enable more automation in applications and better business decisions through predictive and prescriptive modeling and recommendations. This also provides a foundation for companies that want to take advantage of other emerging technologies like blockchain.

Easily Accessible Information

Cloud solutions provide up-to-date visibility into various aspects of the supply chain, including inventory, order status, shipments, and alerts about status changes that might negatively affect business outcomes. They can also provide insight into events that were once hard to detect by using embedded analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

Scalability and Security

Cloud applications are more scalable than on-premises applications. New users can be added faster and without hardware/software requisitions. This is a capability that on-premises applications lack, and it has limited how they can be used to manage supply chain challenges.

Another benefit of using SCM Cloud applications is that the data within the system is stored by the service provider in a highly secure data center. This means that administrators can apply patches immediately to address the type of rapidly emerging cyber threats that can so quickly affect modern supply chains.

Easy-to-Maintain and Update Systems

Businesses need to be able to concentrate on customer experience instead of the limits and lifecycles of their applications. Luckily, all aspects of managing SCM applications—adoption, use, management, configurability, and upgrades—are easier in the Cloud than they are on-premises.

Using an end-to-end Cloud platform eliminates a common challenge that legacy applications face: Adoption of SCM functionality being dependent upon, and often subservient to, the core ERP.

Many supply chains can’t rapidly change business processes or adopt emerging technologies because updates to their on-premises SCM applications can only take place once a major ERP implementation or release upgrade has been completed. This process can sometimes take years.

An Understanding Partner

Having a Cloud partner with both deep technical skills and proven business expertise can make a supply chain upgrade easier and more successful. No two supply chains are alike, so a partner that has a long history of architecting and supporting business solutions for all types of businesses can bring value to the table.

Rob pointed out that Oracle has a large installed base of SCM customers both on-premises and in the Cloud. As on-premises customers transition to the Cloud, they can sync data between the two sets of applications. This ensures that all teams are working with the same information. Once a customer is in the Cloud, they can use anonymized user data to benchmark their performance against peers because all users will have the same, standardized application.

Emerging technologies and changing customer expectations have disrupted today’s supply chains. There is a clear need for a change in SCM models, and organizations need to become more agile, connected, flexible, and proactive as they change their supply chains.

For more information about supply chain disruption and how to future-proof your supply chain, check out the Oracle blog and additional Quest resources attached below.

6 Ways to Future-Proof Your Supply Chain