Industry Trends

It’s All About Data: Essential Features for a Supply Chain Data Management Platform

Supply chain visibility is a vital global supply chain aspect, even though it has become a largely misunderstood and overused term. Not only are there different definitions of global supply chain visibility, but there is no cross-border consensus on how to describe the components of supply chain visibility.

There are several definitions of visibility in the fast-developing global supply chain business, as well as many approaches to achieve, enhance, and manage visibility in a global marketplace. Today, people primarily use transportation management systems (TMS) for their logistics visibility

Unfortunately, many companies have discovered that a TMS does not offer them the comprehensive visibility that a global company demands. As a result, global supply chain visibility platforms have emerged as a new technological solution.

Despite the fact that visibility platforms are becoming more common in reality, there is no clear agreement on what exactly a visibility platform is, what its components and qualities should be, or what services it should provide. 

In reality, each organization views the platform differently. Such a wide selection of ideas and conceptualizations may obstruct the collaborative interactions that this visibility solution is designed to foster. The misconception restricts the extent to which external service providers can meet potential clients’ need for supply chain visibility, and therefore supply chain visibility software.

Overall, the present corporate climate has overlooked, and underrated, the added value and potential of visibility platforms. A more uniform description of a visibility platform must be agreed upon in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the real benefits given by visibility platforms and their underlying needs.

What is a supply chain visibility platform?

The supply chain visibility platform is a versatile, multifunctional data infrastructure that provides a strong foundation for combining and integrating data from all sources across the supply chain. The amounts of real-time, correctly collected data from each supply chain participant enable firms to tap into hidden possibilities with the help of visibility platforms. 

Instead of depending just on shipments booked through a TMS, a visibility platform recovers data from current parts of your supply chain and then uses technology to fill gaps, or blind spots, that other systems cannot identify.

Finally, the supply chain visibility platform enables users to see the supply chain as a connected, integrated system, where multiple operations happen simultaneously, instead of viewing the supply chain as a linear process as in the past.

Supply chain visibility platforms are becoming increasingly common. Here are a few insights from Gartner projecting how organizations may invest in visibility solutions. 

  • Global spending on supply chain management technology will reach $25 billion by 2024.
  • 50% of global product-centric enterprises will have invested in real-time visibility platforms by 2023.
  • Only 5% of control-tower-like solutions will fulfill their end-to-end potential due to mindset and cultural obstacles through to 2023.

As recent data shows, despite common interest and growing investments in supply chain visibility, there is still a long way to go before we can transform theory into reality. 

What are the essential features of a supply chain visibility platform?

Through the integration of numerous data sources and systems, the supply chain visibility platform aims to give transparency across all operations and transactions. The following are

Real-time shipment tracking beyond EDI status codes

Regardless of mode, real-time updates are essential. If your carrier equipment can measure temperature, for example, the visibility platform should be able to follow refrigerated freight with temperature information and alarms.

Check that the seller does not get carrier information by email, phone, fax, or online scraping. Even if the information is correct, it will be out of date. Waiting for tracking information will add manual operations to your workflow, such as phoning carriers. Predictive analytics becomes a non-starter when the “real-time” aspect of real-time visibility is missing.

Integration with TMS, ERP, EDI, APIs, and other technology

When your platform is firmly ingrained in your digital supply chain, a real-time visibility solution boosts operational excellence. Such deep integration is only possible when a solution supports the majority of current data interfaces, both newer and older. 

Predictive analytics reaches new heights as data from your technology partners and systems collides with carriers and third parties. To improve your business outcomes, look for a real-time visibility solution that interacts with your current technology stack.

Integrations are, of course, time and money-intensive. So, the vendor should offer a non-disruptive and gradual implementation, which might be difficult to find in the wide market of supply chain solutions.

Data centralization and analytics for all transactions and operations

When data becomes actionable and correctly interpreted, it becomes truly valuable. Predictive analytics allows firms to maximize the value of their data. Every measure should be segmented by location, lane, client, supplier, and carrier. Most importantly, metrics should be customizable, so the business may concentrate on the most essential KPIs.

With predictive analytics and data centralization, supply chain leaders can see where they can save transit time and costs while increasing efficiency throughout the whole logistics network. While the marketing promises of real-time visibility providers appear to resolve these concerns, there is no alternative for thorough research. 

Automatic alerts to proactively manage exceptions

Supply chain disruptions are unavoidable. Though it is impossible to prevent certain events, supply chain visibility platforms can bring clear results when it comes to improving exception handling.

Real-time visibility combined with predictive analytics gives significantly more information into emerging risks. Internal and external teams can manage exceptions more proactively with access to customizable email, SMS, and push alerts.

If an organization’s goal is to have a big picture of their entire, holistic supply chain rather than just track the movement of individual outbound shipments, then a realistic understanding of what’s happening at each stage, as well as a visibility platform, will provide a return on investment.

Supply chain visibility with Agistix

The deployment of a visibility platform like Agistix requires no IT resources due to cloud infrastructure and simple integration capabilities. With this SaaS-based solution, you can see results in as little as 4-6 weeks.
Learn more about Agistix’s powerful visibility platform today.

Author

Trevor Read

President at Agistix based in San Francisco. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for data, and technology. I am results-oriented and committed to developing fast-deployment solutions to help customers seize the new opportunity coming from big data in the global supply chain.