Technology Transforming the Supply Chain Space

Rajeev Ravindran, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Ryder System, Inc.
Rajeev Ravindran, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Ryder System, Inc.

Rajeev Ravindran, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Ryder System, Inc.

All products and goods transacted in the modern economy flow through a supply chain. From product origination to product consumption, the entire lifecycle of plan, source, make, deliver, and return is supply chain management.Since the term first appeared in the early 1980s, an underlying goal has remained constant:to drive the right processes, focused on the right products, and delivered effectively to the right place. Many companies have undertaken significant supply chain transformation programs to tackle the complexities and to understand that it requires continuous focus as a key tenant to the overall corporate strategy. Technology is a key enabler for effective supply chain management; and, in many ways, its redefining the practice, the value, and the experience. Specifically, cloud-based computing and IOT are two major technologies creating the foundation for the evolution.

Cloud-based computing has traversed the hype cycle and is now a maturing market with proven scale, velocity, and security. The ability to access the best-in-class infrastructure, software, platforms, and services in a cost effective and rapid fashion is eliminating barriers and impediments to supply chain management. Sustainability and resilience are now must-haves to enable the commerce value chain,as businesses and consumers alike now demand “always on” as the service level expectation. This was a significant barrier of entry that has been mitigated heavily by cloud-based computing technologies. The elasticity and scalability afforded by the cloud have transformed the foundational expectation.From private cloud to public cloud, SaaS to PaaS,and all modelsin between,cloud-based computing is enabling rapid scalability, inherent flexibility, and improved reliability, providing supply chain’s immediate value.

The Internet of Things (IOT) has and will continue to have a major impact to supply chain management as it can enable a more real-time visualization for the full lifecycle. This technology is powering more intelligent and connected supply chains,allowing the entire ecosystem of “actors” (suppliers, consumers, carriers, manufacturers, sellers, etc.) to contribute in a value-add network of information sharing. A connected supply chain management strategy enables new synergies, improved user experience, and a collaborative approach to problem solving and event management. Imagine the scenario where the supply chain can sense, predict and react in the often dynamic and evolving marketplace economy. IOT technology is connecting the physical to the digital,enabling the delivery of must-have information that is redefining expectations of a supply chain management strategy. From integrated to connectedand from reactive to intelligent, information and data are driving the experience and key enablers for success.

In order to capitalizeand maximize on the opportunities afforded by cloud-based computing and IOT technologies, it is important that there is a foundational architecture to effectively consume, process, and deliver. That architecture must span the corporation with the focus on talent, processes, and enabling tools. The technology is the enabler to the effective insights, intelligent event management, and collaborative network; however, the “how” matters in order to realize full value potential. Developing an integrated operating model with alignment across the entire enterprise will impact the key value drivers of velocity, quality, and cost.

The telephone, the automobile, the cell phone, the computer, the internet to name a few, have all been significant technology disrupters that changed the way products and services are transacted globally. Each innovation had a tremendous impact on the experience and “the how.” Cloud-based computing and IOT have and will continue to redefine the supply chain management practice with the goal to deliver faster, scalable, connected, and intelligent operatingmodels to deal with evolving market expectations. The end consumer experience matters, and the supply chain management discipline needs to evolve by leveraging the key technology enablers like cloud and IOT.

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