Disruptions to Global Supply Chain Operations the “New Normal”

by Ruth Seeley

The growing complexity of global business networks that rely on multiple supplier tiers to deliver finished goods means supply chain and IT professionals have to grapple with disruption, disturbance, and confusion on a daily basis.

Disruptions to global supply chain operations is the new normal, which makes efficient, real-time supplier collaboration built on a foundation of transparency and trust a necessity, especially for Procure to Pay and Order to Cash processes.

By leveraging data and predictive insights already captured within business networks,  supply chains can become both smarter and more resilient. The right combination of analytics, AI, and other enabling technologies like blockchain means data can be harnessed to uncover discrepancies and identify potential issues that may need action, making supply chains more responsive, adaptive, and resilient.

IBM Sterling’s Business Transaction Intelligence (BTI) Enterprise and Multi-Enterprise Editions were announced at the end of May. They build on the IBM Sterling Business Transaction Intelligence Basic Edition and leverage AI – including natural language search and anomaly detection –  to provide business and IT users with self-service visibility of  transaction data in real time and in context.

New AI machine learning capabilities provide alerts for late or delayed orders, cycle time predictions to determine the probability of events – such as when an order acknowledgement will be received or when an order will be shipped-in-full – so orders can be constantly monitored.

Removing supply chain transaction blind spots increases trust and transparency across the partner ecosystem. Invitation-only blockchain access allows trading partners to see the same chronological history of events and documents. Each partner maintains control of what data is shared, and with whom.

Embedded AI machine learning provides proactive discrepancy alerts and predicts completion of events to get ahead of potential issues. Self-service onboarding allows partners to be added within hours.

Data silos, point-to-point communications, and a lack of visibility and transparency across partners prohibit the transparency that engenders trust. The typical B2B transaction relationship between buyer, supplier and carrier without transparency means:

  • The buyer doesn’t tender the freight and doesn’t get the status of the goods in transit and is therefore unaware of delays, unable to proactively adjust receiving resources and gets involved in a time-consuming process to understand the status of shipments when the expected doesn’t happen.
  • When a supplier is made aware of a shipment delay to goods in transit, buyer notification becomes a top priority. This results in extensive time spent via phone and email to provide shipment status – while dedicated teams update buyer portals. Plus, penalties hang in the balance because of carrier delay.
  • In the meanwhile, a carrier often wonders why clients believe a mistake occurred or performance wasn’t executed according to the contract. They have no visibility into overall Procure to Pay and Order to Cash events. Accordingly, it’s difficult to determine why the deliveries aren’t in-full or are late.

With blockchain, the buyer, supplier and carrier can securely get consensus on the data they want to share in real time, which reduces the frequency and volume of disputes.

Source: IBM Sterling

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