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What is Global Supply Chain Digitization and Why You Should Care

Ned Blinick

Co-Founder, 3rdwave

Firstly, let's define what we mean by "digitizing". Digitizing is the conversion of information into digital format - 1's or 0's. It's that simple. It's not new.However, digitization is becoming more important because data is expanding exponentially and computing power supports the conversion and this greater volume of data into digital formats so that the information is available and useable. The reason that digitization is receiving so much attention is that as data is digitized it can be used to provide exceptional visibility and visualization into all aspects of the global supply chain. Digitization of information allows organizations to collect, analyze, and visualize information in ways organizations only dreamed of in the past.For many companies, the challenge is acquiring the digital information from across the supply chain and making sense of it from the needed perspective. In a global supply chain, there is so much information that is maintained in separate systems - or no system at all - that is not accessible and therefore unmanageable. If the information can be digitized and centrally controlled it can be aggregated, analyzed, and visualized, providing deep insight and visibility into a product/SKU at any point in the global supply chain.

Digitization is to Visualization what Pixels are to TV Pictures

Pixels are the smallest pictures elements and they determine the quality of the TV picture that you watch. The greater the quantity of pixels in a picture the clearer and richer the picture will appear to the viewer. Digitization works in a similar way for visualizing and understanding what is going on in your global supply chain. The more digits that a system can capture and turn into meaningful information the better the picture it can produce that represents the supply chain at any point in time.Digitization works in a similar way. The digit is the smallest data element. The more digits that are used to create information the more accurate that information will be. The information, in turn, can be represented as reports, KPIs or converted into a visualized representation. Being able to accurately visualize what goes on provides powerful insights and enables better quality and more timely decisions. The more digits that comprise the global supply chain visuals the clearer the picture.

Visualization of the Global Supply Chain is a leap beyond Visibility

Figuratively visibility is the pixel and visualization is the picture. The ability to extend global supply chain visibility into global supply chain visualization provides opportunities for organizations to meaningfully enhance their understanding of their supply chains from planning through execution through analytics.With visualization, the supply chain is presented dynamically in a picture. Visualization graphically presents the details of information and events as they unfold with complete textures so that users have a comprehensive "colorized" picture of their supply chains. Whereas visibility provides insight into an event at a point in time, visualization provides the full picture of the activity over the extended time.With visualization, product/SKU management becomes dynamic. The interplay of demand with supply availability is graphically presented so that inventory reflects the true status of a product?SKU throughout the supply chain at a specific point in time. As supply and demand signals are sensed they are interpreted and the inventory canvas is redrawn to immediately reflect the product/SKUs current state and the impact on its future position, required options can be evaluated, appropriate decisions made, and actions executed - all in compressed time-frames.Visualization provides a dynamic picture of the logistics supply chain as it is occurring in real-time so that within a single visual the history and future position of a shipment are visible. Visualization of a shipment as it moves through it journey from origin to destination makes tracking simple. It eliminates questions and enhances meaningful collaboration.Product provenance - chain of custody - is dynamic with visualization. Visualization increases control and management and enhances global supply chain product/SKU traceability and confidence.

The Value of Visualization for Global Supply Chains

As we talk with Global Supply Chain and Trade Compliance management it is clear that they struggle with understanding what is going on across their area of control. They often lack the "big picture" and are constantly trying to piece together bits and pieces from their operations teams. Visualization provides that big picture and access to the underlying information in a simple to use environment.From the supply chain and trade compliance operators we constantly hear that they lack access to comprehensive information and are "wasting" countless hours putting together reports and documentation to provide management. With the ability to convert the supporting information easily into visual presentations the user community is freed up to use their knowledge and skill more effectively driving value to the organization.

Digitization - the foundation of Visualization

Digits are the fabric of data and information. Information is the foundation of visualization. The more granular the information the more complete the visual picture is. The degree to which organizations can digitize their global supply chains the better the picture they have of the impact on the rest of the organization. Solutions that allow the organization to capture, store and manipulate massive amounts of information the better picture they will have of their past, current, and future positions.About 3rdwave:3rdwave simplifies global trade through automation. 3rdwave is a GTM platform that delivers total global supply chain visibility, minimizes manual data entry, streamlines business process, and provides contextual information enabling its users to make informed decisions to reduce global supply chain risk. It's a cloud-based platform that requires minimal IT resources for quick implementation. 3rdwave ensures that companies meet the highest levels of GTM execution and Trade Compliance conformance.Ned Blinick is Chief Product Officer of He has been involved in global trade for too many decades and he loves making the global supply chain simpler for everyone. If you would like to engage with Ned he would really enjoy the of communicating with you or your boss. He can be reached at (416) 510 8800 ext 234 or at