Building supply chain resilience via real-time integration

October 27, 2022 07:54
Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong continues to be a giant in global trade, according to a report by KPMG, with an annual freight traffic volume (11,739 million mt-km) greater than that of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan combined. The report also identifies Hong Kong as the home of the world's second busiest cargo airport and ninth busiest container port.

While this has powered Hong Kong's economy to its current status, its status as a supply chain hub means disruptions could have a bigger impact. In fact, official data shows that exports decreased by 4.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 after increasing by 13.5 per cent in the previous quarter. On the back of global inflationary pressures weakening external demand, the Hong Kong Legislative Council also cited disruption of cargo flows between Hong Kong and the Mainland as a leading constraint on export performance amid the latter's continued "Covid Zero" strategy.

Moderate growth in exports to the US and European Union, the result of other events such as the invasion of Ukraine, were not enough to compensate for the fall in export demand from the Mainland.

Overcoming complexity to build resilience

Every situation has its proverbial silver lining, and the current state of global supply chains is no exception. Challenges like this give leaders an incentive to further innovate and optimise operations.

The current situation shows how businesses should be both flexible and agile in order to react to an ever-fluid global situation. But how?

Supply chains today are like complicated machines with hundreds of moving parts: multiple countries and borders, even more companies, multiple business units and departments per company, and finally, a dizzying array of apps and other software. Getting all these parts in sync requires all the data to be accessible to anyone who needs it when they need it.

But this is easier said than done: more and more businesses are preferring combinations of ‘best-of-breed’ technologies for specific functions, as opposed to all-in-one platforms.

Multiply this by the number of companies in a supply chain, and you have a plethora of partially-integrated or even unintegrated apps and solutions, and a huge amount of underused data which could have helped businesses make better decisions.

This is where an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) can offer significant business efficiencies. It enables systems and people to speak with each other, ensuring data is connected around the clock, and allowing organisations that use it to go to market much faster.

A data-driven supply chain fosters a collaborative and fully integrated ecosystem where all stakeholders, from suppliers to transporters, receive the information they need, when they need

Break down silos to accelerate business processes

As it stands, data is a domain of untapped potential in the world of supply chains. In fact, about half of all companies with a foot in the industry don’t even know what data their organisation holds.

Being disconnected from data makes it near impossible to grasp what is happening within the supply chain with customers, partners and employees. This slows, and can even derail, projects.

Using enterprise technologies, such as low-code platforms that don’t require extensive technical knowledge or coding, can unlock data by quickly and easily connecting the many different applications and systems throughout their ecosystems. This breaks down data silos to deliver information that accelerates business processes and automates workflows.

Furthermore, by automating and orchestrating the discovery, cataloguing, preparation and integration of data from different sources, these enterprise technologies enable businesses to create a common data language that better supports long-term data governance and provides a full understanding of employees, customers, and products.

By going even further and extending the reach of this connectivity and integration to partners and suppliers as well, organisations can truly optimise and simplify their supply chains, achieving greater operational efficiency.

Today’s supply chains need a holistic, data-driven foundation to unite the vast volumes of data and application they rely on within a single governance model. This approach will require being driven by quality data, and help stabilise operations amid ongoing uncertainty where circumstances fluctuate dramatically.

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Director, Solution Consulting – APJ at Boom