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The cloud solves those lingering supply chain problems

Greg Kefer, director of marketing, GT Nexus | Oct. 31, 2011
When consumes ship FedEx packages they get a reliable, impressive IT experience as part of that $10 service. Yet many of the world's biggest corporations still only dream of having FedEx-like technology to support their global supply chain operations, but cloud-based services promise to change that.

A key driver in supply chain management is the ability to see across partners, across the value chains. Supply chain practitioners call this visibility.

While supply chain visibility remains a top operational priority for corporate leadership, the enterprise business software that is installed at most companies comes up short because the data that these software applications must have to be useful is far from complete.

EDI service providers have been tapped to supply the B2B infrastructure to connect companies with their partners but they have not delivered on data quality. EDI VANs enable secure and robust electronic file exchange between partners, but they have left the heavy lifting of rationalizing, linking and creating a complete supply chain picture to each and every one of the many stakeholders in a modern commerce network.

In other words, the prevailing technology for B2B integration has not gone far enough in helping companies rationalize and transform this incredibly complex, dynamic and highly variable data into useful information.

They have also not taken advantage of the enormous economic and scaling benefits that newer cloud-based deployment models provide across entire trade communities.

Cloud supply chain platforms invert the traditional EDI HUB equation by moving the data processing and linking logic from the partners at the ends of the spokes to the center hub. In this model, the entire value chain community leverages a common core technology utility so all partners link to a single version of supply chain truth across the entire network.

The power of such a model is further increased when the technology "smarts" at the hub relies in part on partner specific content and rules that the partner community itself develops and maintains for the good of all.

Not unlike crowd-sourcing models (think of Wikipedia or Jigsaw, for example) that engage the community to improve the common service, Cloud platforms for B2B information exchange engage industry participants to actively improve their own connection and content so that data quality levels increase for any receiver as a matter of course, with or without you. The community is working for you.

Remember the old adage about how the companies of the future will compete? They'll not compete company to company but value chain to value chain. They'll compete as networks. Not silos.

The future has arrived. Cloud Supply Chain is here.

GT Nexus offers a cloud-based platform that the world's biggest companies use to drive efficiency and agility across the global supply chain. More than 15,000 organizations from all areas of the value chain are on GT Nexus today. For information, visit www.gtnexus.com.

 

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