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How to build an end-to-end supply chain

Data should flow smoothly across all partners to create a unified supply chain. John Lash, vice president of product marketing at E2open, explains how this can be done

Let me be blunt. Most companies struggle with their supply chain. Their view is fragmented. All they can see is a patchwork of siloed data, with no single overview. It’s a mess.

There are historic reasons for this. When supply chain software first appeared around 30 years ago, computing power was at a premium. Storing data was expensive. So software writers created individual solutions for each component of the supply chain. You’d have one system to manage logistics. Another for inventory. Another for channel partners. And for many companies that history is their present.

But it needn’t be. There is an alternative. Imagine 100 per cent visibility in real time. And an integrated view stretching not just across the enterprise, but extending to the wider ecosystem, suppliers, retailers, manufacturers, outsource partners, customers, the lot.

This is known as end-to-end (E2E) supply chain management. For a growing number of leading companies it is already a reality and a source of advantage.

E2E’s impact on performance is huge. Here’s an example. If a consignment of goods leaves Hong Kong for London on a ship that gets delayed, the system can flag this, even though the goods are still with a logistics outsourcer. The manufacturer’s team can address the challenge using real-world, real-time data. They can assess inventory levels to gauge what impact the delay will have on stocks. If the delayed goods need substituting, it is possible to identify globally where replacements are held. The knock-on effects of different strategies can be modelled and actions plans automatically executed.

It’s clearly the best way to manage a supply chain. So why don’t more companies embrace it? Truth is, it’s not simple to create an E2E picture. Much of the vital data sits outside the enterprise. Logistics companies, retailers and supply partners have their own IT infrastructure, each with their own complexities. The data is locked away in each infrastructure with the vast majority of it being in systems outside your control. Building something to overcome these challenges in-house simply isn’t feasible.

There is a solution. E2open offers a ready-made network with true E2E supply chain management. Our network already includes 53,000 suppliers, 2.3 million resellers and thousands of logistics partners. When a new customer joins, they gain instant access to these connections, slashing time to value.

Naturally, there will be gaps to fill.  E2open works with clients to ensure their entire extended supply chain is included. We build physical connectivity, then cleanse and normalise data, ensuring it flows smoothly. We offer a suite of applications to manage operations, from logistics and warehousing, to retail and forecasting. And our E2open Harmony platform offers a single pane-of-glass view of the supply chain with no need to flick between screens or modules; a complete overview is right there.

E2open is used by Amazon, Boeing, Caterpillar, Google, Jaguar Land Rover, Procter & Gamble and Seagate, to name just a few.

Gartner ranked E2open as the leading vendor for completeness of vision and ability to execute in last November’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Business Networks. Among our strengths, Gartner cited our “vision and roadmap for addressing supply chain convergence and emerging technologies on a single integrated platform”.

With our Demand Sensing module, clients can benefit from information that sits outside their monitored ecosystems. Artificial intelligence analyses all known data to create ultra-accurate demand forecasts, harnessing both supervised and unsupervised machine-learning. When deployed with our full solution, E2open Demand Sensing can cut safety stock by 31 per cent, lower forecast error by 36 per cent and double forecast added value.

Any company with a complex supply chain needs total visibility with no silos keeping data hostage. Data must flow smoothly across all partners, from suppliers to retailers and everyone in between, to be transformed into action and advantage.

This is the opportunity E2open offers. And it’s one that many global leaders in manufacturing, aerospace, consumer goods, pharma and retail have seized upon. Its benefits are game-changing.

To find out how you could enjoy these benefits, get in touch and we’ll introduce you to a new way of managing your supply chain. Visit E2open.com, and head to our Resources section for our new “Forecasting and Inventory Benchmark Study”.

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