The Role of Technology in Innovating Supply Chain

The following guest posting is contributed by Infosys Limited, one of other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters Blog. It is authored by Rakhi Makad, Industry Principal and head of consulting for Information Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry practice at Infosys.

Continuing from Part One, where we discussed the need to innovate supply chain, in this posting we explore how goals translates to business and technology needs:

What does the office of the Supply Chain need?

In the words of a supply chain executive – “I need up-to-minute visibility of end-to-end supply chain, integrating data from external partners and internal systems, to be able to identify bottlenecks and risks, and work together with all stakeholders to mitigate and optimize them swiftly”.

Asking for too much?

As you go higher in the supply chain hierachy, these needs become more strategic in nature but the essence is pretty much the same

What does this mean in technology terms?

  • up-to-minute: in near real-time
  • integrating data: variety of sources, high data volumes, different types of data
  • identify bottlenecks and risk: visualization
  • work together: collaboration
  • mitigate and optimize: simulation, prediction, extreme processing
  • swiftly: fast

Here enters in-memory computing and in-memory database technology. Let’s briefly look at how this provides for the requirements:

  • in near real-time: replication of data, on the fly calculations
  • variety of sources: heterogeneous systems including sensor/machine data
  • high data volumes: column and row storage, data compression, partitioning
  • fast, extreme processing: multi-core architecture, massively parallel processing
  • simulation, prediction:  in-database functions

While supply chain KPI frameworks, reporting, analytics, performance management systems have been around for a while and most organizations would have some means in place for evaluating the performance of their supply chains, however, as said before, most of these solutions are built around technology constraints and moreover, most of these solutions are reactive or provide after the fact information on supply chain performance. Now, how can we leverage the capabilities that in-memory technology provides us for innovating our supply chain such that we can eliminate the inefficiencies that we saw earlier?

At our manufacturing innovation hub at Infosys, we have put together a workbench -“Supply Chain Optimizer” – based on SAP’s in-memory database technology platform SAP HANA. This workbench provides for applications that address different processes of the supply chain function – planning, inventory management, procurement, manufacturing and order fulfillment.  The four areas piloted with very positive results include:

  • Supply Chain Performance Simulation
  • Supply Chain Risk Management
  • RFID Applied to Supply Chain Visibility and Counterfeit Detection
  • Asset Utilization Optimization

At Infosys we are proactively working towards innovating our customer’s supply chain using in-memory computing technology. All of the above use cases address the key needs for in-memory computing i.e. data volumes, real-time decisions, online simulations, predictive capabilities, extreme processing and speed.

Other technology trends in the manufacturing industry, like 3D printing, Robotics, Internet of Things and Augmented Reality are also catching on and bringing in their own impact to the supply chain world. A lot of these technology trends generate huge amounts of data that can be analyzed for further improving the supply chain using Big Data/In-memory Analytics lending for further use cases for information driven efficiency. Infosys is also researching these technology trends, their impact on the supply chain function, our customers and the industry and building mathematical and statistical algorithms as a part of its innovation lab mentioned above.

Technology, and leveraged use of the most pertinent technology applied to supply chain responsiveness, will continue to be a disruptive force for every manufacturing and supply chain organization.  Is your organization adequately prepared to leverage today’s technology?

This concludes Part Two of this two part series.

For additional information regarding these concepts please visit: 

 About the Author:

Rakhi Makad, Industry Principal, Information Transformation, Manufacturing Consulting & System Integration, Infosys Limited

Rakhi heads consulting for Information Transformation in the Manufacturing vertical at Infosys, this includes Business Intelligence & Analytics, Enterprise Performance Management, Enterprise Data Warehouse, Information Management and Big Data. In her current role, she leverages her extensive BI experience in giving directional guidance across BI strategy, performance management, BICC set-up, architectural framework, governance, business blueprinting, implementation and program management and delivery excellence across multiple clients. Rakhi represents Infosys in most external forums like MIT Supply Chain Innovation, SAPPHIRE, SAP Insider, ASUG etc on topics of thought leadership and innovation in the Information space, she regularly interacts with client IT and Business leadership and with analysts and industry experts.

She can be reached at [email protected]