Global Supply Chain

Stress Testing Your Global Supply Chain in Real Time

Just a few years ago, who could have predicted that the global trading environment would be turned on its head?

Ned Blinick

Chief Product Officer

Just a few years ago, who could have predicted that the global trading environment would be turned on its head? Did anyone think that traditional global supply chains would be under attack and disruptions would be so widespread?  The past twenty-one months have led to a cataclysmic change in the political landscape, creating severe stress on organizations and the way they configure and manage their supplies. This, on top of increasing climatic and geographic turbulence - dramatic volcanic eruptions, flooding, and droughts - has caused global supply chain managers to re-evaluate their supply chains’.General supply chain wisdom has viewed agile and flexible supply chain capability as a competitive advantage.  Until now, agility and flexibility were viewed as important in the event of a severe supply chain disruption. But in today's overcharged political climate, agility and flexibility are critical capabilities an organization needs just to remain competitive or to survive.   Literally, with the stroke of the (President's) pen, supply chains are massively disrupted and business is "no longer as usual".It doesn't matter whether a company is in retail, fashion, electronics, consumer goods, commodities, or manufacturing, all supply chains are now susceptible to serious or catastrophic disruption.  Globalization brought on the need for multi-country sourcing and the need for global supply chain management. Deconstructing globalization brings greater urgency to global supply chain control and along incredible levels of supply chain stress.  In this time of great trade uncertainty having supply chains that are agile and flexible are vital to alleviating the stresses that inevitably occur on the supply side of the supply/demand equation.

Agility and flexibility - the key to relieving global supply chain stress

By its very nature, major supply chain disruption, whether geopolitical, climatic, or financial, brings the need for supply chain reconfiguration.  The greater the disruption the greater the need for agility and flexibility in reconfiguring the supply chain. The quicker the disruption occurs the faster the organization must respond.  The more significant the disruption in the supply chain the greater the stress on the supply chain. How the organization responds directly impacts its operational and financial success. How quickly and decisively the organization is able to respond is a direct result of the resilience of its supply chain infrastructure.  Failure to respond adequately to severe supply chain disruption is no option and places the organization in peril.

Global supply chain agility and flexibility - built on global information

The two key indispensable requirements for global supply chain agility and flexibility are information and human capital.  In ranking these two requirements, information is already, or will be, the major driver of an organization's flexibility and agility.  Artificial Intelligence will eventually reduce the human component in importance. But information will always be the critical element of decision-support which in turn drives organizational agility.Digital information is the life-blood of the organization.  Controlling, managing, mining, and interpreting information allows the organization to understand its current state and rapidly decide on alternate courses of action as situations warrant.  This is the new, real core competency of the organization.  Failing to understand this simple reality puts the organization at heightened risk.

A global trade platform - the foundation for global supply chain agility and flexibility

To start, it is important to understand what a global trade platform is.  It is fundamentally a solution that allows the organization to capture, manage, mine, and share information with any authorized party.  It is built to exchange data through simple interfaces (APIs) from virtually any supply chain source or user. The platform is systems agnostic - meaning it interfaces with ERP (enterprise), warehouse management, transportation management, trade compliance, CRM (Customer Relations Management), business intelligence (BI) and financial systems of virtually any configuration.  The platform captures data equally with internal systems and external trading partners and service providers.The global trade platform is the repository for all the digital information of the entire supply chain.  Because it is the central repository for this global information it supports both business operations and finances.  It drives analytics and artificial intelligence engines.The global trade platform is the engine that allows the organization to control, manage, mine and interpret information in real-time.  It provides visibility into all aspects of the supply chain so that when disruption, of any magnitude, occurs the organization can immediately analyze and contextualize the relevant information and decide on the optimal course to mitigate problems.The global trade platform's ability to collect, mine, and contextualize information is what drives corporate agility and flexibility across operations and finance and helps reduce or eliminate global supply chain stress.

Why current global trade solutions don't support real global agility and flexibility

A global trade platform is foundational to creating real global supply chain agility and flexibility.  However, a global trade platform does not, in itself, provide the total infrastructure necessary to create a comprehensive global trade solution with the underlying supporting flexibility and agility.In a follow-up blog post, we will discuss why most global trade management solutions do not, and cannot, deliver the agility and flexibility that an organization needs to handle the stresses induced by today's rapidly changing and confrontational trade environment.