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Process Tempo Insights

  • Daria Chadwick

Innovation Spotlight: Supply Chain Control Towers

Supply Chain Control Towers (SCCT) are central hubs that bring together the required technology, people, and processes to provide visibility and decision-making support for the orchestration and improvement of the supply chain.

Supply chain control towers typically cover many different regions or business areas. SCCTs support the collaboration of SC partners and internal teams in managing and improving the supply chain, working to enable the standardization and harmonization of processes and systems across regions/countries and divisions/business units.

But not all supply chain control towers are created equal. While the concept has been around for over a decade, emerging technology like graph technology and refined approaches to data & analytics have left definitive divides between traditional, intelligent, and next-gen control towers. In this post, we'll explore the key differences.

Traditional Supply Chain Control Towers

Traditional supply chain control towers address supply chain leaders' visibility and data challenges by aggregating data from different sources and delivering it into dashboards for stakeholders. But increasing complexity around data and more volatile global networks mean that traditional control towers have difficulty delivering the data and insight required to meet stakeholders' needs. As a result, they struggle to keep up. From a technical perspective, traditional supply chain control towers fail because:

  • They can't see across silos. The ability to collaborate across information systems is crucial in supply chains. Systems that cannot seamlessly link components like sales orders with inventory, transportation, and logistics are no longer of any use to these stakeholders.

  • They're incapable of integrating with relevant, third-party data. Risk events, weather updates, and traffic information are all key types of third-party data that could impact areas like inventory availability. Without the ability to integrate relevant data like this, supply chains can suffer.

  • They're incapable of driving action. Traditional supply chain control towers lack granular visibility and rely too heavily on individuals to drive action and make decisions.

  • They're built on inflexible data architectures. These rigid architectures aren't flexible enough to scale or adjust as quickly as needed to pace with today's modern supply chains. They generally can't take advantage of contemporary data capabilities or connect to critical analytics capabilities, either.

Intelligent Supply Chain Control Towers

Intelligent supply chain control towers are purpose-built to go beyond the basics, zooming in to help solve day-to-day problems while keeping the longer horizon in view to drive strategic change.

Intelligent towers address specific functions, including inventory management, supply assurance, and logistics. They provide personalized dashboards of KPIs and events and use critical technologies to allow supply chain teams to understand and resolve critical issues in real time.

Intelligent supply chain towers help organizations:

  • Unlock end-to-end visibility: Intelligent supply chain control towers help remove data silos and establish real-time visibility across global supply chains through a centralized environment. They help transform data into actionable insights via personalized dashboards that can provide 360-degree views of KPIs and events.

  • Manage by exception: Intelligent SCCTs can better detect and display similar supply chain issues and establish priorities in real time, allowing stakeholders to sense and react to problems quickly while proactively managing risks and disruptions.

  • Streamline processes via workflows: These towers often have are workflow capabilities available that help stakeholders better meet their daily objectives and streamline processes.

  • Integrate critical information: Out-of-the-box connectors offer blueprints and example connections to best-of-breed systems of record and supply chain services to enable stakeholder access to blended, quality data.

Next-Gen Supply Chain Control Towers

Next-generation control towers leverage the power of intelligent capabilities to extend process optimization, making supply chains more dynamic, responsive, and predictive. Next-gen supply chain towers encompass many of the same qualities as Intelligent control towers, but with some additional benefits:

  • Backed by Graph Technology: Graph technology helps reveal patterns and relationships that exist in data and provide the visibility and context supply chains need to adequately keep up with the modern pace of change. They also

  • Enable automation. Automation allows these control towers to operate with more efficiency and pinpointed accuracy than their intelligent counterparts. This automation capability delivers significant impact when embedded in integration and workflow capabilities. The automation delivered in these areas can better ensure readiness and adaptability during disruption.

  • Differentiate. Next-gen platforms can more easily be customized and configured to match the unique characteristics of the area they support. They also incorporate third-party data sources and services to help improve personalization and differentiate.

  • Continuously learn and improve. Next-gen capabilities hone the control tower's ability to identify possible steps for stakeholders and can also help improve supply chain data quality over time. Built-in feedback mechanisms allow humans to fill knowledge gaps that may otherwise persist within the data.

Get started with a Next-Gen Supply Chain Control Tower from Process Tempo + Neo4j.

See how the power of Neo4j + Process Tempo come together to develop robust, purpose-built solutions driving the future of today's supply chains. Schedule a demo >

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