Supply Chain Technology: What's Next?

PurchTips edition #107


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Are Major Technology Breakthroughs Looming?

In the late 90's, the field of supply chain technology exploded with new innovations such as eProcurement, reverse auctions, and more. The bursting of the dot-com bubble slowed the pace of innovation but, in 2006, we are seeing the return of innovative technology in the supply chain field as well as the Internet in general.

Today's PurchTips explores three emerging supply chain technology innovations: software delivery, community intelligence, and buyer-supplier collaboration.

Supply Chain Technology

Software Delivery: You can't shop the supply chain technology market without noticing the buzzword "On Demand." "On Demand is the delivery of software functionality over the Internet from a single application instance that's shared across all clients," explains Tim Minahan, Senior Vice President of Procuri, a supply chain solutions provider. "On Demand solutions require only a Web browser for access," eliminating hardware and software installation and maintenance, reducing costs, and speeding implementation.

Community Intelligence: Today's supply chain technology providers are "oriented to create a virtual community that's constantly transacting and collaborating and exchanging information," says Minahan. Community Intelligence includes inter-company information about supplier capabilities and performance, benchmarking data, and best practices that are accessible to the "Community" of users of a supply chain system. Some speculate that supply chain systems will someday feature Community-wide access to peer-input supplier ratings, not unlike a corporate purchasing version of eBay's seller feedback functionality.

Buyer-Supplier Collaboration: A casualty of the dot-com bust was the buzzword "C-Commerce" for Collaborative Commerce – a vision of the future that buyers and suppliers would collaborate seamlessly online. With collaborative tools like wikis now populating other portions of today's cyberspace, the buyer-supplier collaboration envisioned earlier is likely ready for prime time. Minahan cites three particular examples of technology-facilitated collaboration:

  1. Both buyers and sellers will be able to expose and share their excess inventory across the Community.
  2. Community members will engage in collaborative supply chain planning and logistics route sharing.
  3. Buyers will grant suppliers access to buy from their contracts where pricing or availability is more favorable, thereby reducing total supply chain costs.

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