In 2012, this author was quoted in an article published in a MS Dynamics World article on the subject of emerging multi-industry interest supply chain control towers.  I was asked by the contributing writer to define this capability and describe the then current market interest. At the time, I was pleased to be able to contribute to the market education of this concept, and we continue to provide such education on this blog.

Full disclosure to readers: in 2012, two of the named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog were supporting and delivering control tower capabilities to customers the names of which we could not disclose because of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.

I was recently contacted by the author of that same 2012 article to provide an update on the current market uptake in control tower capability.  Unfortunately, because of other business commitments, I was not able to circle back with the reporter up to this point. Shame on me!

I state that because the reporter has reissued an updated article (no-cost sign-up login account required), feeling somewhat loose to quote my original statements but not indicating that I was unable to comment by press time.

If I had spoken to this reporter, I would have stated the following.

The interest level in supply chain controls does indeed remain high, but most of that interest is in educational and foundational initiatives at the organization level. The aspects involve understanding the current capabilities and how they relate to current and future supply chain competency objectives.  When I speak to audiences about these capabilities, I often stress the wide change management aspects to consider in building a path towards a control tower.  That path includes training or recruitment of teams with advanced analytical and program management skills as well as determine where in a firm’s organizational structures such capability can best be nurtured and sponsored. There may be some further interim competency and technology implementation steps required in that journey which relate to data management, visualization and supply chain business intelligence tools.

In short, supply chain control tower is a phased journey with different timetable requirements and needs.

While I tend to agree that control towers may have been overhyped by some specific technology vendors I do not necessarily agree that a single instance of an ERP system necessarily provides an advantage. Nor do I agree that starting on the execution vs. planning end is a more viable roadmap. It is more about having a strategy that relates to a set of desired business outcomes where a supply chain control tower provides a significant competitive advantage for a business or product focused supply chain.

Industry supply chain momentum in control towers will continue but do not necessarily look to the technology vendors for crisp definition.  It will come from those knowledgeable resources in market, including the early adopters that understand and can articulate the various aspects of these capabilities as well as the benefits. 

Now you have my updated perspective.

For our part, we will continue to utilize Supply Chain Matters as a medium to provide a forum for market education as well as an exchange of various viewpoints regarding supply chain control towers. If you have perspectives or viewpoints to share, please contact us.

Bob Ferrari