Collaboration - the key to supply chain visibility success


We’ve been told how big data will transform our businesses by driving efficiencies in the business process and transforming our business. But has big data lived up to its promises to provide business intelligence that will drive supply chain efficiencies ?


A study which AEB conducted among supply chain managers in the transportation industry, unveiled that the lack of transparency in supply chains is based on the sluggish internal processes (44% of respondents noted that this factor was one of the key reasons) and inadequate internal integration (only 29% respondents reported a “very high level” or “high level” of integration between business intelligence and data analyses)

But what are the key issues that businesses need to address first before they look into data integration between of business intelligence and analysis tools?

Data integration is just part of the solution

Not having access to data is a key problem and this is what businesses need to address first. Before you can think about data access, you need to identify the kind of data that needs to be generated. If the data was to come from a single source, this would be a simple problem to solve. But, if the data is aggregated from multiple systems internally and from your service providers, this complicates the entire issue.


Data quality can impact the integrity of the data collected.

How accurate and complete is the data from your service provider? When tracking delivery performance, if the package is recorded in the system only after the delivery person returns to the depot and the office staff inputs the information, often without recording the exact time, this impacts the integrity of the data. This is where collaboration is equally important for this issue of supply chain visibility.


Collaborative data management

Most companies regard their data as an asset and assume that transparency only makes sense if the reward is worthwhile and there is a clear benefit.

  • More than 75% of respondents agree that the benefit-to-risk ratio in collaborative master data management is sound
  • 37% of respondents reported that they currently collaborate using master data, nearly all respondents consider sharing the data to be important.
  • The transportation industry is the most important field of collaboration, with 45 % of respondents already working closely with partners and 26 % planning to do so.

In general, the study showed that collaboration was most successful in lowering transport costs and minimizing lead times. Larger enterprises were able to achieve lower levels of production re-planning.


The role of IT in collaboration

As more and more companies engage in collaborative activities, the role of suitable tools will also grow in importance.

While transportation is a common area of collaboration in the supply chain, many companies do not realize that there are many less explored areas in which partnerships are formed.

Our study found that employees at larger enterprises (companies with more than 2,000 employees) are better supported for collaboration using IT collaboration tools while smaller companies still rely on more traditional means of communication e.g. meetings.

When two market players who are using different systems wish to collaborate, very few adapt their system to that of their partner. Most would use a symmetrical strategy based on industry standards or a meta platform that puts partners on an equal footing and creates an atmosphere of trust.


The ultimate goal

Based on the study we conducted, the ability to collect the right type of data and the willingness to share the data are key to supply chain visibility. There are IT platforms and tools in place to help reduce the complexities. However, all partners in the equation need to have a shared understanding of what collaboration means and need to develop a joint vision of shared goals to be successful.

Ultimately, collaboration creates competitive advantage and businesses that collaborate closely with other businesses in the supply chain to optimize workflows can gain a critical competitive advantage.


GTM Agenda: Supply Chain Collaboration


What are the critical factors driving the success of collaboration in global trade and logistics? And what do supply chain partners expect? The results of this study deliver the answer to this and many more exciting questions..

Request the GTM Agenda 2016 report to get access to all research data.


Whitepaper: 'Supply Chain Visibility; The Unfulfilled Promise?'


AEB'swhite paper provides answers and introduces problem areas and solutions for comprehensive supply chain visibility. It highlights the areas of procurement, customer satisfaction, inventory management, supply chain cost, and risk management.

Download it now, free of charge.


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