An intricate network of global supply chains has emerged to accommodate the rising complexity that defines many of today's products. Comprehensive material, component, and product information must be easily accessible to every node in the supply chain if companies are to produce the high quality and sustainable products consumers increasingly demand.
Even the simplest of products may contain parts from dozens of suppliers, themselves often only the visible tree in a larger forest of suppliers. As a result, information about what went into any given product is often scattered across non-connected sources spread around the world. We need end-to-end data flow if we are to make sense of today's complex and far-flung supply chains. Silos of data about individual components must be knit together to deliver comprehensive intelligence to support better decisions.
Information must flow both upstream (e.g., requirements from buyers of materials and components) and downstream (e.g., specifications and product data from sellers). The business value of such end-to-end information sharing is enormous: All parties along the chain can avoid surprises that result in unmarketable products.
UL's Information & Insights division was formed to improve data connectivity and provide intelligence across global supply chains. Our goal is to facilitate shared information that will translate into more sustainable products and better business results. How does this work?
Stakeholders throughout today's global supply chains—suppliers, manufacturers, distributors/retailers, large OEMs, and even consumers—will benefit considerably from a unified platform. The ability to access and centrally manage material information under an independent platform protects intellectual property while ensuring trade partners can document compliance with various regulations, and also mitigates data quality issues.
Multiple siloed entries or instances of material data across the supply chain increase the probability of typos or the use of mismatched information in a particular location, compromising data quality. A centralized, cloud-based solution eliminates a lot of these problems, enabling better data stewardship while benefitting all the key players.
Experts say leading companies are tackling the data sharing challenge head on. Gartner reports a wide range of initiatives, “including end-to-end supply chain segmentation, simplification, cost-to-serve analytics, multitier visibility and supply network optimization.”
Numbers from Aberdeen also underscore the need for unified supply chain visibility (SCV). In a recent survey, 63% of respondents indicated that improving SCV was a high priority, while an additional 28% made it a medium priority. Enterprises that want to reduce costs and improve operational performance across increasingly complex global supply chains need to make better SCV a critical strategy, advises Aberdeen.
Clearly, whether dealing with materials, components or whole products, an end-to-end platform that connects the dots among otherwise disparate data is invaluable. Such a tool will remove a lot of the friction—such as wasted time or potential errors stemming from manual data entry and re-entry—from your system. More importantly, it can turn raw data into actionable insights that benefit your entire supply chain.