Supply Chain Visibility Is Ranked Top Priority. Again.

A Picture of Greg KeferJuly 23, 2013 By Greg Kefer

For the better part of the last decade, companies and various industry influencers have talked at length about the importance of supply visibility. While lots of hot trends have risen to the top of priority lists and quickly faded, visibility has been a permanent resident at the top of the operational wish list – especially at global companies.

Here are two recent examples:

  • 90% of consumer goods companies surveyed witnessed increased demand from customers for timeliness and accuracy. (Supply Chain Standard)
  • Supply chain visibility is a high priority for 63 percent of executives responding to a recent Aberdeen survey. (World Trade 100)

A couple of quick Google searches will reveal similar results dating back several years.

So what’s different now? Is supply chain visibility any different than it was in 2008? Has anyone learned anything?

There is still much confusion around exactly what Supply Chain Visibility is, what it covers, who it touches, how it should perform and what technology approaches to implement. Research firm IDC recently wrote a very good perspective paper on the definition and rationale, titled “The Visibility Imperative in the Massively Multidimensional Supply Chain,” that spells out a number of must-have components and capabilities.

What is beginning to become clear is that network-based cloud platforms that connect entire operational ecosystems to a ‘single version of truth’ information model have seen a number of published success stories from companies like Pfizer, Renault, Levi Strauss and Caterpillar. And Gartner has launched coverage focused solely on Supply Chain Visibility which should add clarity.

The market hasn’t flipped yet. However, with companies operating globally, the need to reduce risk, improve velocity and reduce costs – all at the same time – is pointing at a common solution.

Companies need to ask themselves this question: How can we solve a problem if we can’t really see what’s going on out there in our network, in real time? The answer begins with Supply Chain Visibility. Again.

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