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How can supply chain control towers help manage complex global supply chains?
I recently discussed the topic of supply chain control towers, and I think you will find the video informative. I gave a brief overview of control towers, and then I explained the different of capabilities of control towers, some of the major the benefits, and the five keys to a successful control tower implementation.
Achieving Total Visibility and Control with a Control Tower
If you’re interested in control towers, I recommend you read the Control Tower Tech Brief. This report explains the five keys to an effective control tower and for ensuring a successful implementation.
Guide to Supply Chain Control Towers
What is a supply chain control tower?
A Control Tower is a reaction to the complexity of the modern supply chain.
There are various types of control towers, but let’s take it back to bare basics and its original purpose.
Control towers really arose to provide visibility across trading partners, to connect disparate IT systems so that trading partners that are not in direct control of inventory, orders, shipments, etc., can still see what is going on and respond to problems.
Recommended: Webinar: Control Towers & Prescriptive Analytics
However, visibility alone was never going to be enough, so we now find ourselves in a place where Control Towers for many businesses has not only advanced beyond visibility but is an integral step in supply chain management and is vastly more than just being able to see across the supply chain environment.
If you take the general contentious across numerous control towers solutions providers there are 4 major levels of maturity, or functionality, or capability if you like.
- The first is Visibility, and exception-based monitoring, of course there are levels to this itself, which are dependent on the vendor.
- The second is Alerting and Multi-Party Collaboration, so this is real time issue Resolution.
- The third level is Decision Support, so this is now getting into Intelligent Recommendations and the ability to execute transactions within the control tower.
- The forth level is AI or Autonomous Decision Making.
So, as you can see Control Towers are today much more of a full Supply Chain Management solution, one which is designed to manage the full end to end process across all trading partners in real time.
Who is a Control Tower for?
A control tower solution is for any business trying to improve collaboration across trading partners, to move into a more advance form of supply chain management, one that integrates relevant technologies and solutions into a common environment and allows for real time visibility and control.
It is for any company that has a complex supply chain that is expensive to manage, resource hungry and limited in its capabilities, resulting in restricted business development.
It is for any business that serves a demanding end consumer, who’s behavior can be volatile and often difficult to read.
It’s for any business that is lacking in supply chain agility.
New technologies such as The Internet of Things, big data, predictive analytics, 3D printing, Blockchain, AI, and multi-party business networks are starting to change the way businesses interact and serve the consumer.
It’s these advancements that drive the requirement for Control Towers solutions, and as supply chains become more complex, so does the need to simplify the management of them.
How is One Network different and what are the key principles to making a future proof control tower strategy?
For us there are five key components to making a success of a control tower implementation and what really stands us apart as a leading provider of control towers technology.
The first is Multi Party Master Data Management or MDM, supply chain performance is reliant on consistent definitions of customers, products, items, locations and other objects. One Network’s permission-based MDM framework allows all internal business units and facilities, as well as external suppliers or customers IT systems to operate on a single Master Data Management model. So, each company has it’s own name or code for everything which is automatically translated and propagated into One Network for all parties.
The next key component is a patented network permissibility framework and this is really important. Companies on the Network must only be able to see what is relevant to their business so that confidential information is not exposed to the wrong parties. The ONE Control Tower platform enables these very robust permission-setting capabilities for any control point and system functionality.
The third component is cross-legacy process and transaction management. A Control Tower strategy should not require an IT overhaul. A successful platform can serve as a tuneable system of control, allowing the controlling enterprise or business to oversee the end to end processes across many ERP and legacy systems while assigning responsibility for intervening steps to different pre-existing systems.
Companies often have either in house-built solutions or solutions that are simply disjointed from one another or are just not collaborative in anyway shape or form, but still to some degree do the job, the answer is not simply to replace all these systems but rather digitalize and integrate them so that their value and information is able to feed into the wider network.
The forth key element is intelligent Autonomous Agents. One Network’s intelligent agent is called Neo, just like the hero in the Matrix movie. Supply chain disruptions occur around the clock. So, Neo is embedded in the execution layer and has the ability to sense and respond as well as make intelligent decisions and execute decisions autonomously. Neo runs in real-time on your execution data and delivers vastly superior business results compared to batch planning engines that are disconnected from your execution systems.
NEO constantly harvests information from all sorts of data like transactional execution data, will then effectively run around the supply chain management environment firefighting issues that would have once taken valuable human time to resolve. He also surveys events in the supply chain and automatically responds to issues with the most effective resolution. And again, on top of that Neo considers the cost of change, and incorporates the least disruptive and most efficient changes, and optimize the entire supply cycle.
The last component, which is a big talking point is Blockchain enabled. Blockchain is already transforming global supply chains, and One Network’s ONE Blockchain solution ensures companies are prepared for the future of trade. By marrying the benefits of a multi-party control tower platform with the advantages of Blockchain, companies can create greater trust, security and supply chain visibility.