Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Tech highlights yet another Cloud based B2B supply chain control layer platform announcement, this time from Amazon’s AWS Cloud computing division.
This latest announcement adds to larger enterprise and specialty Cloud based tech players now specifically targeting overcoming end-to-end supply chain decision-making challenges.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), a business unit of Amazon, has announced AWS Supply Chain, a B2B Cloud-based application directed at increasing end-to-end supply chain visibility and enhancing overall decision-making. The product announcement was made in conjunction with the Amazon AWS reInvent conference.
This application is described as providing the ability to: “..automatically combine and analyze data across multiple supply chain systems so businesses can observe their operations in real-time, find trends more quickly, and generate more accurate demand forecasts that ensure adequate inventory to meet customer expectations.”
The underlining platform functionality is one of providing users the ability to setup a singular data lake consisting of key supply chain information utilizing this platform’s built-in connectors. The data is then layered with machine-learning based analytics, reportedly based on Amazon’s noted 30 years of supply chain experience in extracting data from ERP and specialty supply chain applications. When a risk situation is detected, the application reportedly will provide recommendations or actions that can be undertaken, based on identified risk factors. Teams additionally have the ability to perform in-application collaboration capabilities utilizing chat and messaging functionality within this application.
Specific customers already utilizing this B2B supply chain platform were identified as kitchenware and tableware products provider Lifetime Brands, grills and barbeque products provider Traeger Grills, and Amazon’s owned natural food and grocery chain Whole Foods.
Application availability is indicated as available in preview in the U.S. East (Northern Virginia), U.S. West (Oregon), and Europe (Frankfurt) regions, with availability in additional geographies coming later.
The implications of this Amazon AWS announcement are twofold.
First, this is likely the first time that AWS has ventured into a specific applications targeted platform as contrasted with a Cloud based infrastructure platform alone sold to businesses and Cloud based software providers.
It is widely known that AWS was spawned by Amazon’s initial and ongoing needs for Cloud computing capabilities to support its online retail platform globally. Offering Cloud based services as a separate business has provided years of incremental profitability that has allowed parent Amazon to leverage significant investments in its online retail customer fulfillment, distribution and last mile delivery infrastructure over multiple years.
Electing to target supply chain B2B as an initial AWS application is recognition of the market potential of such a need.
The statement that AWS Supply Chain will have the ability to leverage over 30 years of Amazon’s logistics knowledge can provide either an attraction or a threat to prospective platform customers. It really depends on their industry presence since many major retailers and consumers goods providers have restricted their suppliers and trading partners from sharing any information with an Amazon related business entity. For other industry verticals, this may not be a hurdle.
Broader Supply Chain Tech Landscape Implications
In prior editions of this Supply Chain Matters featured column, we have highlighted other prior and recent announcements. They have included Microsoft Supply Chain and Microsoft Supply Chain Center, Movement by project44, SAP Business Network and Oracle B2B Commerce.
In the addition, there are specific supply chain start-up, specialty planning, logistics execution, analytics and information integration providers that are collectively converging on providing industry specific supply chain organizations broader end-to-end physical and digital information visibility, along with the required planning, fulfillment and logistics context to make the best informed and timely decisions.The list includes names such as Blue Yonder, E2open, Kinaxis, 09 Solutions and many others.
These approaches in many cases require the synchronization of tactical and operational supply chain planning with that of physical and digital customer fulfillment and logistics. Extracting information for data lake approaches can involve API, EDI or other data extract and delivery tools.
Specialty players and supply chain focused systems integrators will increasingly have the option of linking their specific applications to these emerging supply chain centric B2B platforms.
Rest assured this will be a rather competitive and fast-moving area in 2023 and beyond and will require multi-industry supply chain teams and respective suppliers to pay particular attention to.
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