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ASCM Insights

Ease the Supply Chain Labor Shortage Via Digitization


Chronic labor shortages continue to plague almost every area of business — especially the global supply chain. But many smart supply chain professionals are analyzing the issues and coming up with ways to mitigate their impact. There is an abundance of manually intensive activities in supply chain that can be automated or augmented with technology, such as robotics, self-driving trucks and artificial intelligence. Of course, most of these solutions rely on data. Following are some strategies for creating a data-driven, digital supply ecosystem.

People: Build a team to support digitally enabled operations

Digitally enabled supply chain processes open up many opportunities for process improvements and collaboration — both internally among functions and externally with partners. However, the same team members who thrived under a more manual process might not always be the same people who can maximize the value from real-time data and dynamic collaboration. As you establish your team, make sure to ask these questions:

  • Who should lead the effort to digitize the supply chain, and what skills does this leader need?
  • Have you defined the roles to enable a digital process and culture, such as supply chain analyst, database engineers and data scientists?
  • Do you have the required skills within the company, or will you need to look externally?
  • How should the team be organized to efficiently run the business while driving innovation? 

Step back and determine if your organization can successfully meet current and future operational objectives. Leading organizations often establish a supply chain center of excellence focused on developing the necessary skill sets and advanced capabilities while the rest of the organization focuses on meeting operational objectives.

Data: The right data enables the digital supply chain to thrive

The volume of data is growing exponentially. Unfortunately, when it comes to the supply chain, a good majority of that data is generated from outside a company’s enterprise systems. To develop insights that lead to value, supply chain data needs to have the seven C’s of data: clean, consistent, comprehensive, consolidated, convenient, current and computable. However, more than 40% of supply chain leaders say their available data is difficult to analyze because it is split between multiple reporting tools and systems or simply because it is bad data. Achieving the seven C’s requires:

  • The establishment of organizational roles and business processes that foster a continuous drive toward supply chain data management excellence
  • Enabling technology
  • Ownership of the process, data and technology by members of the supply chain organization.

Technology: A multidimensional opportunity for the digital supply ecosystem

The final foundational component to enabling a digital supply ecosystem is a technology platform purpose-built to facilitate multi-enterprise, real-time data visibility and dynamic collaboration. To accommodate the fast-paced supply chains of today, your digital supply ecosystem platform should support rapid deployments, flexible user interfaces, agile process adjustments and scalability. It should automate and streamline supply chain data exchange among existing partner systems to supercharge investments in enterprise resources planning, advanced planning and scheduling, and other enterprise solutions. Additionally, it should facilitate robust collaborative planning, execution and analysis capabilities to ensure all stakeholders are aligned and synchronized to eliminate waste and maximize speed. Finally, an advanced supply ecosystem platform should enable process automation and management by exception through configurable limits, milestones, active alerts and artificial intelligence.

Process: Rethink current processes to benefit from digitization

Digitizing supply chain operations involves gaining visibility and access to operational data across the extended network. However, gaining visibility and access is not enough. How you use digital data to solve problems and enable new capabilities is where value is created. Be prepared to explore and discover how digitizing the supply chain can add value by solving existing problems and tackling new opportunities both internally and with partners.

About the Author

Henry Canitz Product Marketing & Business Development Director, Nulogy

Henry Canitz, CPIM, CSCP, is vice president of industry and market strategy for Nulogy, a provider of multi-enterprise supply chain solutions for the supply ecosystem. He may be contacted through

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