With the intent on giving greater understanding to the Supply Chain and how it has evolved over the years, GT Nexus, a joint venture between Infor Inc. and MAS Holdings conducted a tech talk. Held on the 23rd of May 2018 at GT Nexus Services (Pvt) Ltd, the topic for the day was “Supercharging the Supply Chain through the Network Information Model”.
So what is the supply chain?
Explaining what the supply chain was the task of Dinuka Simon. Dinuka, a Senior Solution Consultant at Infor explained that the Supply chain is about a company getting their products from the manufacturer to the customer in the most efficient manner. The supply chain changes depending on the industry.
Previously, products were manufactured in central factories, catering to local markets. As time went on, both manufacturing and markets both went global so the process of supplying materials for the product had to be streamlined.
Dinuka went on to explain that now with the change in consumer behaviour and needs, you need all parties of the supply chain to be connected. If you look at today’s supply chain, it’s more complicated and it’s about to get a lot worse. There are numerous flows depending on the region and the industry as well.
80% of information is outside the walls of the company
That information is actually with partners of the supply chain. Essentially if you’re a company that wants to produce a good and you are enlisting the assistance of other companies in your supply chain, when you send an order out, you have no insight into what’s happening.
He then spoke about the current state of the market. Currently, information is shared through means such as emails, spreadsheets and phone calls. With all parties using multiple platforms to keep track of things, there is no central hub for all the information. This is where the network model comes into play. Think of the Network Model as the one-stop hub to connects all parties, thus creating greater collaboration.
Networks are powerful,
We all use them. But what good is the technology of a network, if no one is going to use it? This is where Network technology is important. Network Technology is all about leveraging the power of networking and then getting people to use it.
Dinuka then spoke about the Information Model for Network Orchestration. This is where all the information in one place for all to see. Think of it as a shared view. All data will be put smack dab in the middle so that everyone related to the supply chain would have access and they are on an equal level.
Consumers are more demanding, Dinuka explained. They want different things at different times. To cope with this, companies need to have visibility of resources so that they can deliver a product to a customer on time. Dinuka them went on to explain practices such as embracing Omni-channel visibility, developing an assurance of supply and improving speed to market. Dinuka was joined by Ravi Muthukrishna – VP – Software Development. Ravi, who acted as a facilitator, added content right throughout the session. With a few questions from the audience to both Ravi and Dinuka, Dinuka’s session came to a close.
What technologies power the supply chain?
That was what Udantha Pathirana was here to discuss. Udantha, a Software Architect at Infor started off by explaining that right now most supply chains work on what he called “the phone address book” model. Once a person’s contact details are saved here, there is no notification or indication that he/he changes their number. So if you change your number, no one knows it.
As a solution to this, Udantha explained about the single profile method. Here, you can post that you changed your number to your public circle and they all would know it. So for the Supply chain, you can post all details of the process and collaborate with all parties with regards to all aspects of the supply chain.
Dinuka then went on to speak about software powering the supply chain. With a traditional software solution, it is installed locally using the company’s own computers. This has its limitation such as compatibility with partners and redundancy issues in case a system malfunctions.
With the cloud, all you need is a web browser
Here too, even though it may look and feel easy, there are issues. For example, what about the data itself? Is it safe? As a solution, Udantha explained, this is where data security comes into play. If you’re going for a cloud service provider, you will have to make sure that they adhere to stringent data security measures so that your private and confidential information isn’t leaked to unauthorized parties.
Udantha then went on to explain about Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS) and the key differences between them. Despite them sounding similar, there are minute differences between the two. For example, a SaaS is where a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet
A PaaS would provide a platform that allows users to develop, run, and manage applications without the need for hardware and infrastructure. This includes networks, servers, storage, operating systems, middleware and even databases. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for everything. Udantha then went on to explain the benefits of SaaS and PaaS. For example, since the application is stored on the cloud, even if your PC is offline, you can still login to the platform via a laptop or even a mobile device.
How Patagonia embraced the cloud with GT Nexus
Once more facilitated by Ravi, Udantha and Dinuka and Ravi went on to a case study about a company that embraced the cloud. Patagonia, an outdoor apparel maker gained visibility into its financial and physical supply chains, improving supplier relationships and reducing costs by moving to the cloud.
With nearly 50 suppliers and factories in 14 countries, Patagonia utilized the GT Nexus platform to manage purchase orders, invoices, packing lists, and the settlement process, leading to greater visibility and accuracy in the financial supply chain.
What is the future of the Supply Chain?
One major aspect that is currently available and being refined is live tracking via RFID. This allows the customer to track the exact location of their goods. More importantly, it provides manufacturers and suppliers with the a host of data. This data can be used for forecasting purposes. Here, companies can identify trends with relation to the shipping and customer trends as well. You can also see what factories would go bankrupt by analyzing these trends.
With a few more questions, the tech talk on Supercharging the Supply Chain through the Network Information Model came to an end.