How the cloud can transform post-disruption supply chains

Supply chain disruptions are set to ease this year as conditions stabilise and organisations find their footing. Some will be taking advantage of this opportunity to optimise through the cloud
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The health of global supply chains never strays too far from the centre of corporate consciousness. But, for 2023, the prognosis is refreshingly positive.

Unlike the other usual suspects - skills and labour shortages, inflation, regulatory change, geopolitical instability or natural disasters, to name a few - the World Economic Forum’s recent Chief Economists Outlook finds only about one in four economists expect supply chain disruption to materially impact business activities this year.

What’s more, 77% expect organisations to work on optimising their supply chains in response to prevailing economic headwinds.

Although costs remain high, inflation has dipped from 8.8% in 2022 to 6.5% this year. Businesses face a window of opportunity to restructure while the waters are calm so they can position themselves to respond effectively when the next wave of supply chain shocks hits.

Since the start of the decade, organisations have become acclimated to volatility, and many have developed new, decentralised architectures that provide the flexibility to combat pandemic, war and climate-related disruptions.

Undoubtedly, cloud technology is a critical part of the equation for increased resilience. During the pandemic, companies that invested in cloud-based ERP technology tended to outperform competitors. And three years on, those that forgo futureproofing tech may struggle to keep pace when disruption returns.

“Technology enables you to monitor performance more precisely so you can identify challenges and opportunities sooner,” says Andy Coussins, head of international at Epicor. “More robust data analytics equip you with insights that will make your business more agile and resilient.”

If longevity is the name of the game, developing an overreliance on in-house servers, storage, and networking to run applications is a risky play.

Most companies with on-premises systems don’t have the high-security data centres protected by top-of-the-line digital defences that today’s cloud data centres do. Combine unmatched security with built-in redundancies and failsafe procedures, and it’s easy to understand why cloud deployments have become so compelling from an infrastructure perspective.

“Security and business continuity go hand-in-hand,” says Coussins. “Decision-makers want agile systems that can safeguard their data and guarantee data availability around the clock.”

Decision-makers want agile systems that can safeguard their data and guarantee data availability around the clock

While supply chain disruptions are not anticipated to exert considerable pressure on organisations this year, moderate inflation is likely to endure, and businesses will benefit from predictable, managed costs. Lower overheads, reduced IT expenses, and straightforward monthly subscriptions are powerful incentives to embrace cloud computing. On-premises deployments require an expensive upfront investment into servers and hardware, which will eventually need to be replaced.

The collaboration of a strong cloud-based ERP partner is invaluable for businesses making the shift. Epicor takes a migration approach based on its experience moving hundreds of customers to the cloud to minimise risks, excess costs and wasted time. It engineers solutions to meet specific industry needs and helps companies to adapt and thrive in a mobile world to compete on equal terms with new, cloud-native competitors.

It is also critical to ensure an ERP can provide the necessary tools, automation, and processes to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. Low- or no-code configurations can prove transformative to business as usual and in the face of disruptions.

According to Coussins, companies should discuss the benefits of cloud technology internally to reassure employees and stakeholders. “Communicating comprehensive information about the security of the cloud environment is a key driver of comfort. Comprehensive product demos are vital. People can truly get comfortable with understanding how a new cloud ERP solution can alleviate pressure on current pain points.” he says. “Thorough user training resources and materials can make their decision to migrate to the cloud more comfortable and put employees’ minds at ease.”

Disruptions may have started to cool off, but investing in resilient supply chain infrastructure remains ever as important for business continuity, perhaps even more so as the dust settles and complacency creeps in.

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