Full Supply Chain Visibility No Longer A Utopia

A decade ago, the idea of a shipper or vendor being able to track all their goods in real-time around the globe, from the first mile to the last, was just a very enticing dream.

Today, whether an order is loaded on a bike for last-mile delivery, sitting in a warehouse ready for pick up, or still on a container ship somewhere in the Atlantic, companies and customers have unprecedented real-time visibility regarding the status and location of their orders.

According to Gartner’s Research Director Bart De Muynck: “visibility has exploded over the last 12 months” which signals that we may be very close to reaching full real-time visibility for both the sender and the recipient. The vendor/supplier can then leverage this knowledge to optimize and streamline their operations.

De Muynck attributes the growth and progress in visibility of B2B logistics to disruptors such as Amazon who redefined customer expectations with their last-mile delivery accomplishments. If people can track their pizza delivery, taxi or groceries order in real time – there’s no reason for delivery-oriented companies not to have full visibility over their entire supply chain.

In a way, it is actually customers who are indirectly demanding and defining the creation of next generation supply chains. Retailers can no longer tell consumers how to shop; instead they must build enough flexibility into their infrastructure to respond to the unique demands of every shopper.

Customer expectations are higher than ever when it comes to speed and convenience – pushing businesses to establish leaner and more agile supply chains. This, in turn, means that new supply chain models must be built around customer demands and expectations, rather than around existing business structures. In this environment, it is no longer enough to be relatively quick and convenient and companies constantly need to reach a higher bar just to remain competitive. One hour delivery, 30-minute click-and-collect and other alternatives to collect a parcel based on where the customer is located are some of the hooks that companies are pursuing to delight their customers and gain a competitive edge.

The technological innovations that enabled this transparent, agile and accountable approach can now also benefit B2B companies. Businesses with logistics infrastructures that are quickly becoming archaic will have no option but to adapt if they want to remain competitive and efficient.

What’s more, optimizing logistics has a significant and tangible impact on the balance sheet beyond improving overall transparency and accountability. IDC predicts that by 2020, organizations able to analyze all the relevant big data from across their supply chain and deliver actionable intelligence will achieve an extra $430 billion in productivity benefits over their less analytically oriented peers.

Raanan Cohen

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