7 Ways Cloud Technology & Big Data Are Changing Supply Chain Management

作者/来源:  Megan Nichols / Datafloq    责任编辑: 闫文美 时间: 2018年11月09日

The discipline of supply chain management has changed radically over the past few years. It's a role that's only a few decades old, but it's already transformed business processes around the globe. From procuring raw materials needed in manufacturing and production to ensuring smooth and timely delivery to the customer, today's supply chain manager has a multifaceted role — and it's about to become even more diverse.

With the rise of cloud technology and big data, the fundamental processes driving supply chain management are also in the midst of a massive transformation. Some of these have been slowly manifesting through years of development and refinement, while others are just seeing the light of day. In either case, the most innovative processes in the supply chain revolve around next-gen technology.

1. Automation

Like many other industries and professions, the niche of supply chain management embraces automation with open arms. Not too long ago, automated systems were exclusive to the largest and wealthiest corporations. Smaller businesses — especially startups — had to rely on manual data collection techniques or nothing at all.

In the 21st century, every business — from the smallest to the largest and the oldest to the newest — is on an even playing field when it comes to automation. As software and hardware solutions become more affordable, more companies are turning to automation to handle data collection and other key aspects of their supply chain.

2. Collaboration

Employees use the cloud to collaborate in greater numbers than ever before. From sharing data and reports to performing in-depth research with teammates located around the world, the cloud is creating new leaders and forging some unexpected partnerships.

3. Scalability

Modern cloud systems and servers are scalable to meet the evolving demands of data storage and processing. Modern hard drives and processors experienced a surge of upgrades and enhancement during the 1990s and early into the 21st century and, although this pace has slowed somewhat, technology will continue to improve as time goes on.

Instead of installing brand-new servers and systems to handle their supply chain, most companies understand the value of scalable equipment. Not only does it reduce costs by eliminating the need to purchase new hardware every few years, but it also reduces the strain on IT staff by allowing them to work on the same platform for years or even decades at a time.

4. Accessibility

Cloud computing also enables system access from nearly anywhere in the world. In theory, employees can view and monitor data in real time, interact with teammates or supervisors and even participate in video conference calls. In some scenarios, cloud computing might even help disabled workers complete their jobs efficiently and comfortably.

 It’s important that each stage of the supply chain not only have easy access to essential product data and information but also that the data is traceable and backed up in a secure location.

5. Business Continuity

In the past, supply chain managers weren't so dependent on network architecture and connectivity. If a system went down, there was typically a backup — albeit manual — solution to fall back on. Some businesses could even maintain limited functionality during a power outage.

But this usually isn't the case anymore. As more companies integrate next-gen technology into their supply chain, constant accessibility — or business continuity — could mean the difference between success and failure.

Although the discipline of business continuity isn't strictly a product of cloud computing or big data, it's more important than ever before in the 21st century. As some companies now perform 100 percent of their business online or through the cloud, system uptime is one of the top considerations when moving forward.

6. Transparency

While supply chain managers are on the front lines of their company, senior-level officials are often in the dark when it comes to areas like the procurement of raw materials, product inventory levels and the location of incoming or outgoing shipments.

Not only does the cloud make it easier for executives to access this data, but big data can collect info to form predictive analytics, identify risks and even offer recommendations to improve the supply chain.

7. Sustainability

Cloud computing is driving sustainability throughout the supply chain. Instead of hosting in-house servers, which require significant floor space and massive power loads, companies mitigate much of these costs by relying on remote data centers and virtualized solutions.

Proponents of sustainable technology are quick to point out how cloud computing lowers a company's overall carbon footprint by minimizing e-waste, reducing local power consumption and replacing physical devices with virtual ones.

What's in Store for the Supply Chain?

It's difficult to predict where the supply chain is heading from here. With increased automation, enhanced scalability, greater business continuity and easier access than ever before, it's completely revolutionized the role of the modern supply chain manager over a few short years. With an increasing push toward sustainability, big data processing and advanced concepts like AI and machine learning, we might be in store for another transformation before too long.

Managers must adopt new technology to stay relevant and keep customers. Find out how the cloud and big data are changing supply chain management.

Article Author: 

Blogger & Freelance Writer

Hi! I'm Megan. I'm passionate about technology and the sciences! I've combined this love on my blog, Schooled By Science. Each week I publish a new piece about a scientific discovery or advancement in technology. Subscribe to my blog today for weekly updates!