Gartner Predicts Massive Adoption of End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility Solutions
The 2016 Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in London was a treasure trove of powerful insights from top supply chain practitioners across all industry verticals. But one statement stood out. Gartner predicts that by 2018, the deployment of end-to-end supply chain visibility solutions will increase by up to 50%.
50 percent in just two years! That would make visibility solutions the fastest growing supply chain technology segment. Now, Gartner isn’t prone to hyperbole and wouldn’t make this type of statement lightly. So, what’s going on here?
Visibility has ranked on top of the agenda for most supply chain executives for many years and the topic has received its fair share of attention during industry conferences in the last decade. But for the longest time, this desired end-to-end visibility across the entire partner network has remained an elusive goal for most organizations. The main reason for this is that for way too long, companies were led to believe that network-wide visibility can be accomplished with a piece of enterprise software.
But after massive investments in traditional enterprise systems, many organizations have come to realize that the kind of on-premise software they were buying simply wasn’t made for a networked world.
Christian Titze, Gartner’s supply chain visibility expert, now sees a number of pivotal market shifts:
- From single-enterprise to multi-enterprise systems
- From on-premise solutions to the cloud
- From siloed to multichannel systems
- From selected to comprehensive use cases
- From complex to simple pricing models
What Titze is describing amounts to a cloud-based commerce platform, as opposed to the kind of old-fashioned, behind the four walls ERP system that companies have tried to rely on for network visibility in the past. And failed.
Titze presented the audience with a supply chain visibility solutions market guide. Think of this as a precursor to Gartner’s signature Magic Quadrant framework - which has never been applied to supply chain visibility solutions, but is supposedly in the works.
It turns out that the field is getting more and more crowded, as more vendors are trying to jump on the bandwagon. The market guide is based on a self-reported survey among vendors claiming to offer supply chain visibility solutions. Titze listed over 50 vendors and acknowledged that the number of providers claiming to play a role in this field is actually approaching 100.
But if you apply Gartner’s lense of what visibility systems look like to this long list, the field narrows down dramatically. A multi-enterprise, end-to-end solution is not a piece of software. It’s a platform. A robust platform embraced by a multi-faceted ecosystem of partners: manufacturers, retailers, 3PLs, transportation providers across all modes, financial institutions, etc.
Ideally, the platform should also have proven its value across multiple verticals: consumer products, automotive, pharma, chemical, retail, etc.
This type of platform doesn’t emerge overnight out of nowhere. Organizations are well advised to seek out a platform that has grown organically by earning the trust of its community through delivering measurable business value again and again - not just during one pilot.
At the conference in London, there was a successful visibility case study that stood out. Dror Noach, the VP of Global Logistics at industrial equipment giant CNH Industrial, embarked on a digital transformation journey of the supply chain well before it became fashionable to call what he was doing a "digital transformation journey." End-to-end supply chain visibility is at the heart of that journey. His recommendation is simple: don’t adopt technology for technology’s sake. Start by asking what problems you’re actually trying to solve. Inventory reductions, global emissions tracking, risk analysis, provider KPIs, capacity planning. End-to-end visibility was the answer to many of the biggest problems that the team at CNH Industrial was trying to solve for years.