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The Approaching Supply Chain Apocalypse
Last week I spoke with GXS VP Steve Scala about some of the company’s reasons for discontinuing the practice of daisychaining. Putting aside the rest of the arguments about why the company is taking this route, I agree with Steve that delivering visibility to the supply chain is one of the most important things an EDI transport provider can deliver. And he’s right that moving transactions across multiple connections without tracking individual items is a recipe for disaster.
Whether that possible disaster will ever come to pass, and if it does will it be on the magnitude of global supply chain melt-down is up for speculation. My own guess is that over the long term some transactions will go missing. And without adequate tracking mechanisms at the detail level there will be lots of finger pointing and probably even some law suits. But the individual companies to whom these transactions mean actual money have enough at stake, and are paying enough attention to their business that the predicted apocalypse is an overstatement.
All that being true, the need for uncomplicated and transparent status monitoring is important to the wellbeing of the supply chain and to the profitability of the participants. The distributed and segmented state of the current supply chain however, means that having seamless point to point visibility is nearly as much a dream as is an apocalyptic melt-down. But there are some technologies that can bring order to the million-transaction-per-day message flow that runs our production and distribution channels.
As a starting place a system needs to look at the full life cycle of the product. That includes more than just the purchase order, shipping notice, delivery receipt, and invoice. And what needs to come out of a system that supports these functions needs to provide easily understandable network performance analysis, actionable intelligence, prediction of problems, and needs to deliver in near real time. I’m open to comments on where these items are to be found or if they are even achievable.
Last modified on Friday, 04 October 2013