How can the cloud solve supply chain management issues?

Supply chains are becoming both longer and overtly complex, presenting companies with myriad challenges when it comes to overseeing the manufacturing process to ensure that all runs efficiently and smoothly.

Compounding these issues is the fact that many organizations are still taking traditional approaches to supply chain management, which shortchanges their ability to improve the system. As one vendor recently wrote for Network World, many of these challenges can be alleviated through the use of cloud-based solutions.

With services delivered through the cloud, the report stated, companies will have capabilities never before possible with an on-premise model. Here are just some of the few benefits outlined in the report.


1. Access to data

The key to managing a community of business partners properly is to analyze data that is produced along the supply chain. Traditionally this has been impossible because such information has been produced and stored by individual organizations, rendering it impossible to reach.

But this sort of B2B integration takes a step forward in the cloud, according to the report, because all data is stored and can be accessed from a central location. With such abilities, companies can build and work off a unified picture of the entire supply chain.

2. Enhanced collaboration

If all members of a supply chain have access to the same data, that means they can also utilize it to collaborate in any number of areas.

"When it comes to supply chain, however, where the focus is on intercompany coordination and collaboration among hundreds of companies on a global scale, cloud becomes more than just very good IT economics. It becomes the means by which entirely new information sharing models become possible," the report stated.

With better collaboration, problems along the line are spotted more easily, and successes can be shared and spread throughout the process.

3. Increased visibility

Visibility is the basis of any good supply chain community management program. Knowing what is going on at all times throughout the chain is key to recognizing which areas require attention and improvement.

The central location of supply chain data within a cloud-based solution also means that all companies will leverage "a single version of supply chain truth across the entire network," according to the report.

Earlier this year, a Logistics Management report asserted that the cloud and supply chain management are a natural fit, given the increasing reliance on IT that many partner communities are now demonstrating.