Data is knowledge. However, it needs to be accurate and timely. A vital component of a well-run business is – Supply chain Visibility. Knowing the status of your shipment and when it is expected to reach its destination is paramount to how you plan your business activities.
The growing demand for more efficient and transparent supply chain data is boosting the global supply chain management market, which is poised to reach USD 45.2 billion by 2027. Real-time supply chain visibility eliminates the blind spots in your supply chain network to create a transparent link among all stakeholders for growth.
What is real-time visibility in the supply chain?
Supply chain Visibility refers to the accurate tracking of components or raw materials in real-time to ensure the smooth flow of goods or services through various nodes in the supply chain. This data can help in planning, diagnosing, predicting, and responding to disruptions and challenges in supply chain management.
Real-time visibility in the supply chain offers information at every link in your supply chain as it happens without any time lag. This encourages timely decision-making and provides your customers with the most up-to-date status of the shipment.
Importance of real-time visibility in supply chain
A recent survey of IT Leaders revealed that in the organization’s digital transformation journey, the lack of global supply chain visibility was a significant pain point, second only to the lack of master data accuracy.
Supply chain visibility can help your business make more informed decisions about manufacturing, transportation, and distribution by allowing all stakeholders to see where inventory is at any given moment. Moreover, real-time supply chain visibility goes a step further by offering access to the most current data that can be used to change course and manage snags as they arise.
Organizations that lack comprehensive supply chain visibility face challenges such as:
- Inefficient data processing, management, and organization
- Poor insight due to technological challenges
- Lack of supply chain planning and execution
- Disconnected automated and legacy systems
- Inconsistent data flow between all stakeholders
Real-time supply chain visibility can help your business transition from linear models to complex, multi-layer processes.
Role of data analytics in real-time visibility
Supply chain visibility gives you the right information about your supply chain network at the right time. With access to such data, your business can deploy supply chain visibility predictive analytics to get insights into emerging trends and forecasts to plan and manage your supply chain more effectively. Here’s how it works:
- Data analytics can analyze trends and patterns by leveraging next-generation intelligence and predictive alerting capabilities.
- Cloud-based supply chain software, smart tracking sensors, warehouse management systems, and other business intelligence tools support supply chain visibility, logistics management, demand forecasting, and inventory management. This way, the real-time data collected is analyzed to foresee disruptions.
- Your business is alerted about possible issues, allowing you to plan and execute new strategies to mitigate the risk before it occurs.
- AI-enabled forecasting based on real-time data can reduce supply chain waste and improve profitability.
Benefits of real-time insights to business stakeholders
Access to real-time data empowers your business to operate with accuracy and foresight, especially in volatile market situations. Here’s how it benefits both the supply and demand sides of your business.
Manufacturers: Real-time insights provide accurate data on production capacity, identify loopholes to fix, and point out inefficiencies in procurement. You can use this data to strengthen operations and make long-term strategies.
Suppliers: Supply chain visibility gives data on inventory management and helps understand the supplier’s resilience and reliability of the suppliers’ supplier. It also helps create alternative supply sources and provides traceability across the entire supply chain.
End consumers: Real-time insights for end consumers directly influence their satisfaction levels. Knowing the exact status of their orders affects how customers perceive your fulfillment efficiency and your business. In return, it can bring a treasure chest of vital information about your end consumers and competitors.
The derived benefits of real-time insights for your business and all the stakeholders are:
- Better communication between suppliers and manufacturers
- Faster deliveries
- Strengthened service levels
- Reduced cost and improved profitability
Ways to improve real-time supply chain visibility
Here are some best practices to get started and improve your real-time supply chain visibility:
- A uniform data model is a prerequisite to aggregating, organizing, and managing data from all sources and nodes of the supply chain.
- Digital transformation of the supply chain powered by the best supply chain visibility software suited for your business is necessary to handle vast volumes of data. Cloud-based and AI-led supply chain management platforms can streamline processes and provide greater supply chain visibility.
- A control tower dashboard gives a 360-degree view of your supply chain network. It helps to monitor all activities and make real-time decisions based on changing situations.
- Automating manual tasks at all touchpoints reduces errors and inaccuracy of real-time data. Furthermore, it saves time and money while freeing employees to do more valuable work.
Leveraging Technology for Supply Chain Visibility
Technology is key to gaining powerful business insights and staying competitive in today’s market. The internet of things (IoT) has made it easier than ever for organizations to monitor, measure and manage it, from end to end. With an effective visibility system in place, businesses can track and trace their entire network—including orders, inventory levels, products in transit, and activity at customer locations—in near real time.
An IoT-enabled Visibility Solution consists of a combination of hardware sensors and software platforms which allow organizations to monitor the flow of materials through their supply chains. Sensors collect data such as temperatures, locations and other factors important to visibility that are then sent via the Internet to a cloud platform for analysis.
The right visibility solution should provide actionable intelligence at all stages of the product life cycle, giving business leaders a clearer understanding of their operations while also enabling them to mitigate risks as they arise. In addition, accurate forecasting can be achieved with granular insight into consumption trends across locations which helps planners predict future demand more accurately so products can be delivered on time every time. This can add tremendous value to the organization because it reduces lead times and prevents slowdowns due to stock outages or an underestimation of demand.
Real-time supply chain visibility empowers your business to make sound decisions for immediate risk management and long-term strategizing. Now is the time to get the best out of your business by leveraging technology to digitize your supply chain. The benefits outweigh the costs and prepare your business for a connected future.