At the recent Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference, one panel brought together a group of experts who traced the evolution of how supply chains are evolving from a demand driven, inside out model to a customer driven, outside in approach. Ubiquitous cloud platforms make an end to end supply chain increasingly possible, and the result is a better customer experience.
Forging the right path to the cloud for the organization is critical though. Few organizations are starting from scratch when building a modern supply chain. Instead, they are faced with preserving on premise apps and existing systems, while still trying to adopt the cloud to drive innovation. “There’s no question of the value of the cloud,” said Sachin Sathaye, senior director, DBaaS Go-To-Market at Oracle. “The real question right now is: How do I outpace my competition? A legacy data center refresh won’t get you there.” At the same time, a hybrid enterprise that includes both cloud and on premise systems can become a nightmare in terms of integration and operationalization.
A successful cloud adoption demands that the IT function have a detailed understanding of the organization’s business processes. “The day of detail design session is over,” said David Maher, managing director at Deloitte Consulting. “Now it’s process confirmation workshops. We go on a journey of mapping the experience we want the user to have and how various choices might impact that.”
Support from management is also a critical component to success. “There has to be a broad understanding that it is a journey,” said David Whyte, vice president, operations at Ballard Power Systems. “To succeed, we have to have a commitment to it, resource it appropriately, and get the right people on the job.” It’s also critical to allow those to have the power to make decisions that adhere to the parameters of the broader project, he added.
In working to move toward a mature supply chain that leverages cloud technology, organizations need to move along the maturity model at a pace that takes into account the people, process, and technology. Some basic questions include:
- How do I articulate the business value and holistic change implications to the board?
- How do I articulate the value and implications, interdependencies to other functions and get their buy in and support?
- How do I build a transformational road map and journey for maximum customer impact?
The supply chain shapes 60 to 70% of the customer experience, said Sathaye. A good process looks at every decision from a customer angle and aligns a number of department around customer interest. Decisions should be weighed in terms of how it might benefit the functional and emotional needs of the customers. “Our decision to pursue the cloud came from a realization about business continuity: We realized that if we don’t evolve and change, we can’t address customer needs,” said Whyte. “We had old systems and bolt on solutions and it didn’t work for the organization. We realized we needed to get something different to drive the business forward.”
True maturity in a cloud-based supply chain cannot be achieved in days or weeks, but instead is measured in years. “You are buying the future with the cloud, and its a ten or fifteen journey,” said Maher. “You have to budget to keep at pace of innovation and look at it holistically. Organizations need to start with a strategic intent and then delve into the technology.”
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN