In his 1999 book, “Business @ the Speed of Thought”, Bill Gates wrote: “How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” The book may be more than 10 years old, but this statement has never been more relevant to today’s complex supply chain environment.
Daniel Hall, VP of sales and marketing at Magic Software SA, says supply chain efficiency has become a competitive necessity, especially when it comes to integrating technology and processes at all levels of the supply chain, including raw material suppliers, manufacturers, distribution and the end-customer. Integration improves both the speed and the quality of the information flowing through the supply chain, and allows for just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing and procurement, reducing production costs and stocking requirements.
“Integrating supply chains is old hat to most of the larger enterprises in South Africa,” says Hall. “Smaller companies, however, are generally not up to speed, probably due to the perceived costs and complexity of integration. They tend to do what is necessary to meet their larger customers’ technical requirements and little else.”
But while integration of supply chains has been and is a crucial business process for the reasons above, the advent of functional mobility over the past year or two in South Africa is causing many companies to re-examine their integration strategies. Mobile technology has the potential to take integration to the next level, extending supply chain optimisation to unheard of levels of efficiency and productivity.
“But mobile integration goes much further than the technicalities and processes of the supply chain,” adds Hall. “It extends to the people working in the supply chain as well. With mobile integration, people become more valuable as they can accomplish more where they are, their productivity increases, and as a consequence, their job satisfaction and company loyalty improves as well.
“Put simply, integrating mobile technology into the supply chain in an intelligent manner allows people to become more creative in their existing jobs, achieve more and add more value.”
Mobile technology offers incredible potential for supply chain integration and optimisation, but it is also an inflection point, meaning it requires new thinking and the implementation of new processes. Fortunately, the smart application of new technologies allows companies to retain their existing business applications and supply chain management systems, while implementing a middle layer or hub that seamlessly manages the communications between these systems and new mobile devices.
“As mobile technology becomes the norm in business, bringing mobile technology into the supply chain is a given,” notes Hall. “To achieve the benefits desired, however, requires innovative planning with the goal of taking the next step in optimising technology, processes and people.”
By Daniel Hall, VP of sales and marketing at Magic Software SA.
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