Today's winning supply chain management requires more than simple data snapshots

Timothy D. Garcia, Apptricity's founder, president and CEO, writes article about managing today's complex supply chains.

In days gone by, it was enough for retail executives to have visibility in their supply chains. Today, all you get from mere visibility is a front-row seat to watch as the competition passes you by.

Managing a winning supply chain today requires a far greater level of sophistication and intelligence.

Companies that can turn over inventory up to 15 times a year – that's what elite enterprises do, according to PWC's 2013 Global Supply Chain Management System Survey – have not only deeper supply-chain transparency than the competition. They also have the agility to act on the information in real time and in more granular ways.

Supply chain managers today are like the supervisors who run NASA's Mission Control. When you boil it down, their job is simple – get the astronauts up to space and back down to earth as safely as possible. And, yes, having visibility into the millions of moving elements of a space mission is critical to that task.

But without the ability to see how millions of variables and triple-redundant systems intersect and interact, Mission Control would be little more than a well-informed spectator when things went wrong.

The same is true for retailers and their supply chains. To be successful, they need more than simple snapshots of the supply chain as they move from source to warehouse to customer. They need what we at Apptricity call command visibility.

Retail companies with command visibility enjoy a major competitive advantage over those that stubbornly have stuck with outmoded supply chain management technologies or that have failed to take full advantage of their existing system’s capabilities.

Those elite companies have:

None of those three things is possible without the use of a state-of-the-art supply chain management solution, one that seamlessly integrates data on assets, transportation, warehousing and even invoicing and employee expenses.

Properly configured and automated, all the information will line up so the entire supply chain is visible, from the top down. And you, as a retail supply chain manager, will be far more than a spectator as products move from supplier to customer. You’ll be empowered to make smart decisions that ultimately lead to a healthier profit margin.