Always On: When Everything Is Just a Click Away

Want to check the score of last night’s NFL game?  Or see which candidate won the latest political debate? Lucky for you, a single click and quick search will yield not only the answer, but also countless opportunities to view commentary or video replays. Just last week, Google released its Pixel smartphone, which has voice-based artificial intelligence that allows you to make restaurant reservations, look up photos, and play music by talking into your phone instead of tapping and swiping its screen. Thanks to the Internet, the information you’re looking for is there 24/7, and even better, it’s constantly being updated, ready for you to access whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s always on.

This satisfaction of finding exactly what you want, right when you want it, has dramatically influenced consumers’ expectations of the shopping experience — and disrupted many long-established industries along the way. Just look at Uber, Airbnb or Amazon, and you’ll see how successful they’ve been in meeting their consumers’ immediate needs.

Yet, meeting consumer expectations is only half the battle. The companies that will ultimately win are the ones that can meet those consumers’ needs in the most profitable manner. The business environment is changing rapidly, and the financial supply chain is increasingly driving the operational supply chain. The focus has changed from driving just growth to driving profitable growth. To accomplish this consistently, processes, people and technology are connecting together in an unprecedented manner to drive latency and lag time out of the supply chain. This is driving greater profitability and enabling an “always-on” supply chain. Specifically:

  • There has been a shift in supply chain processes. In the past, many supply chain organizations operated with clear demarcations between their demand planning, supply planning, inventory planning and financial planning processes. As demand and supply volatility has become ever more prevalent, the organizational structure that supports such clearly demarcated processes has become outdated. To deliver on consumers’ expectations for a personalized, consistent and seamless experience across all channels, companies can no longer afford to have any latency across their supply chain processes. In response, leading companies are restructuring their processes so that they can better sense and respond to supply chain events and queries in a real-time, always-on fashion, and proactively develop risk mitigation strategies.
  • There has been a shift in the roles of people. As millennials enter the workforce, supply chain talent has become more tech-savvy. Supply chain roles, like the processes discussed above, are changing. Supply chain practitioners today have access to more data and information than ever before. In many cases, supply and demand processes have converged to a point where the same person now handles both demand forecasting and the corresponding inventory planning. Additionally, many demand planners – who used to be solely responsible for operational demand planning of units and volumes – are now increasingly responsible for ensuring that the business is performing against the target financial plan. Similarly, supply planners – who in the past were solely responsible for ensuring enough capacity and material to meet demand – are now responsible for meeting revenue, margin and financial KPIs as well. Thanks to shifts in technology, which we’ll discuss below, planners now have access to tools that enable them to perform different simulations and evaluate what-if scenarios in real time to ensure they are making the most profitable decisions.
  • There has been a radical shift in technology. Computing power, memory and storage is cheaper than before and will continue to become less expensive over the next decade. Massive progress has resulted in advancements in artificial intelligence, analytics and rapid in-memory technology. Technology has evolved and come to a point where it can now support two critical needs of the supply chain community: intelligent, optimized decision support to guide profitable growth and a rich, interactive user experience across an always-on supply chain, where a change anywhere can be immediately detected and propagated across the entire portfolio and supply chain, and shared across all pertinent stakeholders. It’s now possible for technology to support real-time, top-down, middle-out and bottom-up synchronization of inputs across demand and supply processes. Not only does this eliminate batch processes, but it also helps drive latency and lag time out of the supply chain. Additionally, advancements in real-time predictive and prescriptive analytics make it possible for planners to proactively plan risk-aware strategies and formulate contingency plans for the supply chain. This ensures the most effective and profitable decisions, and makes it possible for planners to monitor business performance and respond collaboratively to any disruptive events with unparalleled speed and intelligence. Being able to explore trade-offs between various scenarios and options, planners now have the capabilities on hand to make profitable, effective decisions that are in alignment with the organization’s overarching goals. As advancements in the Internet of Things, 3D printing and robotics continue to increase, we’ll see even greater shifts in technology fueling digital supply chains.

At JDA, we understand what it takes to power the always-on supply chain. With the latest capabilities in JDA Manufacturing Planning, planners and executives can now engage in real-time scenario analysis, and collaboration, leveraging predictive and prescriptive analytics to increase planning agility and profitable decision making.

To learn more about how JDA’s Manufacturing Planning solution enables the always-on supply chain, view this video or register for an on-demand webinar for a deeper dive into the latest capabilities available in JDA Manufacturing Planning.

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