Technology, Integration and Data Drive Supply Chain Visibility

March 1, 2010
Supply chain visibility allows for timely delivery and first-rate logistics performance.

Consumer demand and the Internet have created a technology-savvy buyer, with high expectations and inflexible demands on product availability. As a result, the supply chain has become much more complex than it was 15 years ago.

Manufacturers and retailers are struggling to adjust to this latest norm because retail and demand fulfillment models are evolving faster than they can react. This evolution has spurred a change in how logistics-related processes are identified and implemented. Combined with a number of new distribution channels, this shifting landscape has injected a unique complexity into the supply chain.

In an attempt to stay competitive and reduce logistical inefficiencies, manufacturers and retailers are searching for new methods to enhance supply chain visibility. The emergence of innovative technology is allowing companies to improve visibility.

The business case for exceptional supply chain visibility is clear: It provides companies with timely delivery and first-rate performance to remain competitive. All organizations striving to improve supply chain visibility need to focus on technology, integration and data.

Sophistication of Technology

Leveraging the right technology is essential. The rules, flexibility and exceptions associated with supply chain information have created large volumes of data for companies to evaluate. The right technology can analyze the data and produce valuable business intelligence, which can ultimately lead to better, more informed supply chain decisions.


Consisting of suppliers, shippers, third-party logistics providers, retailers and the consumer, the supply chain continues to expand. The ability to use technology to integrate disparate companies is a vital factor in ensuring all parties can properly react to supply chain disruptions and implement a strategy to overcome problems.

Quality/Speed of Data

The quality of data used to make supply chain decisions is critical. Leveraging integrated technologies, data is collected faster, allowing for a proactive analysis of the data to ensure a more efficient and streamlined supply chain. Once distributed, this information allows buyers and suppliers to reassess their time to market and make strategic decisions to maximize revenue.

While there are a slew of supply chain visibility best practices, they become futile if companies don't have the technology to gather real-time information from the supply chain. A thorough evaluation of operational goals, budget considerations and other relevant factors is critical in determining the most effective approach to regain supply chain visibility for the new consumer.

Jack Rabren is solutions architect of Inovis, an Atlanta-based provider of B2B integration solutions and services.

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