Supply chain control towers give businesses more visibility into their supply chains. These cloud-based solutions use a combination of AI, machine learning, and IoT connectivity to help businesses manage their supply chains more efficiently.
Supply chain control towers make it possible to make more agile business decisions backed up by data. However, supply chain control towers can have implementation issues that make it more difficult to see a return on investment.
In this guide, we’ll show you what supply chain control towers are, their core capabilities, and the common challenges businesses face with supply chain control towers.
What Is a Supply Chain Control Tower?
A supply chain control tower is a data dashboard that displays important supply chain metrics in real time. It offers end-to-end supply chain visibility, showing all suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors in a single 360-degree view.
Supply chains are global. That makes it possible for organizations to source the products they need, but it also exposes businesses to a variety of external factors. Supply chain control towers help businesses overcome disruptions in the supply chain.
Supply chain control towers help businesses gain a better understanding of the inefficiencies in their supply chain. They give businesses a better view of:
Businesses use supply chain control towers for many reasons, including:
- Mitigating disruptions: As long as businesses use the right data, their supply chain control tower can help predict potential disruptions and mitigate them. This makes it possible to fix issues before they cause problems downstream.
- Greater visibility: Supply chain control towers break down siloes. You can see supply, manufacturing, logistics, and warehousing in one place, which makes it easier to identify inefficiencies.
- Better decision-making: Supply chain control towers use predictive analytics to help businesses make better, data-driven decisions.
- Improving speed: Supply chains become more agile with a supply chain control tower. For example, if customers report issues with a certain product batch, the control tower will quickly identify the problem and offer solutions.
- Managing inventory: Supply chain control towers help businesses boost inventory turnover to keep the right products in stock at the right locations, at the right time.
Core Capabilities of a Supply Chain Control Tower
Because supply chain control towers operate in the cloud, they can process large amounts of data in less time. This also makes it possible for supply chain engineers to easily add technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to speed up an organization even more.
Every supply chain control tower solution is different, but they share these core capabilities:
- Data collection: Control towers collect information on every aspect of the supply chain. This includes analytics, customer reviews, and even IoT device data from manufacturing facilities.
- Dashboards: The supply chain control tower displays information in a single dashboard to show orders, product development, inventory, and manufacturing in one place.
- Problem identification: A supply chain control tower brings data together from your ERP, warehouse, and customer orders to find issues. Done manually, this would take a lot of time, but a control tower does this automatically. It can even prioritize issues in the supply chain to help businesses tackle the most important issues first.
- Predictions: A supply chain control tower uses modeling and analytics to alert businesses to potential problems. With smart alerts and real-time insights, businesses can see how their decisions will affect both the upstream and downstream supply chains.
- Automation: Thanks to AI, supply chain control towers can self-correct when it identifies the source of a problem. It’s a smart system that continually improves until it can make decisions on your behalf.
Implemented correctly, supply chain control towers break down siloes and bring the entire supply chain into one place.
Supply Chain Control Tower Challenges
As helpful as supply chain control towers can be, they aren’t without their challenges. Businesses often struggle to implement supply chain control towers effectively because of these common issues:
- Data quality: Supply chain control towers rely on data to make predictions and decisions, but if businesses have messy, unorganized data, they risk creating inaccurate or unhelpful predictions.
- Time: Some businesses expect supply chain control towers to work immediately, but this is an AI solution that needs to learn and self-correct. Organizations need to train the supply chain control tower to generate the right types of outputs.
- Talent: Supply chain control towers can do a lot of heavy lifting, but they still require expertise to manage. If your employees don’t have a data science background, it can be difficult to make the most of your supply chain control tower.
- Perceived value: C-suite leaders need to understand the necessity of a supply chain control tower. Leaders should embrace new ways of doing work to implement supply chain control towers with fidelity.
Supply chain control towers are an essential part of supply chain management, but careful implementation is a must. It’s best to work with an experienced supply chain solutions provider like Argano to properly set up and implement supply chain control towers in your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can streamline your supply chain management operations.