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Supply Chain Visibility: More Trust than Technology

Achieving supply chain visibility has been an elusive quest for many companies. Simply throwing more data or technology at the problem has not seemed to work. What’s needed instead is a structured approach that identifies the goals of enhanced supply chain visibility, narrows the scope of data required, and—most important of all—rests on a foundation of trust.

By ·

If there’s one recurring bad dream that keeps supply chain executives awake at night, it might well be the seemingly impossible quest for better visibility. It’s one of those classic nightmares where you keep grasping for something just out of reach. Even at companies with higher levels of collaboration in their supply chain, it seems that visibility is always “two years off.”

The popular misconception that information technology is the underlying issue limiting data availability—and the resultant visibility—has prompted executives to seek solutions in IT. Given the sizable investments companies have made in IT to harvest supply chain data, the question of why visibility isn’t better is a perplexing one. The “complete” view of inbound supply and outbound fulfillment sustained by seamless upstream and downstream connectivity that managers had been led to expect is proving to be a frustrating, ongoing work in progress. There’s no shortage of technology solutions that purport to enable visibility. Yet getting timely, accurate information with which to run global operations—even after costly IT solutions are in place—remains a daunting challenge.

So if technology is not the bottleneck, then what is? The answer is that the nature of relationships is the primary constraint on what and how much information ultimately gets shared. The more trusting and collaborative the relationship, the more that data is shared and visibility improves; the less trusting and collaborative, the opposite holds true.

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By ·
Download Article PDF

If there’s one recurring bad dream that keeps supply chain executives awake at night, it might well be the seemingly impossible quest for better visibility. It’s one of those classic nightmares where you keep grasping for something just out of reach. Even at companies with higher levels of collaboration in their supply chain, it seems that visibility is always “two years off.”

The popular misconception that information technology is the underlying issue limiting data availability—and the resultant visibility—has prompted executives to seek solutions in IT. Given the sizable investments companies have made in IT to harvest supply chain data, the question of why visibility isn’t better is a perplexing one. The “complete” view of inbound supply and outbound fulfillment sustained by seamless upstream and downstream connectivity that managers had been led to expect is proving to be a frustrating, ongoing work in progress. There’s no shortage of technology solutions that purport to enable visibility. Yet getting timely, accurate information with which to run global operations—even after costly IT solutions are in place—remains a daunting challenge.

So if technology is not the bottleneck, then what is? The answer is that the nature of relationships is the primary constraint on what and how much information ultimately gets shared. The more trusting and collaborative the relationship, the more that data is shared and visibility improves; the less trusting and collaborative, the opposite holds true.

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Article Topics

November 2012 · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Third Party Risk: Too Close for Comfort
You’ve got a handle on many of the potential supply chain "disrupters" that can paralyze your business. But the real risk is embedded in areas you may have overlooked.
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