How many distinct systems make up the supply chain? OK, that’s probably an unfair question, so let’s just talk about the number of systems or software applications that make up the supply chain within a single company. The answer is likely to be more than 1 and could easily be as many as 20. If that’s the case how is it possible to actually achieve what we’ve been calling Visibility?
Of course there are plenty of definitions of Visibility, but most of them involve traffic activity that passes through a single provider - typically an EDI provider. That’s not a bad thing if the majority of your traffic goes through a single path. But there are plenty of additional channels that process the data that isn’t included in the data sent through EDI. This silo separation is typical in most organizations, and nearly unavoidable because of the nature of application development and purchasing systems from a variety of vendors over a period of time.
So even thought all the data your enterprise uses is in applications housed within your data center and in your cloud based applications, the data only connects in the proper sequences and through well defined interfaces. That means delays at the least, and possibly incomplete correlation of the data. Typically the data travels sequentially through the various systems but is not parallel meaning that many of the connections that could be possible by linking data are not possible.
True visibility goes beyond what is possible by tracking EDI documents. It includes ERP and all other components of the enterprise that collect and process data. It is no longer enough to track the supply chain as goods are in transit or even while they are in the process of going to transit. True Visibility takes advantage of the facilities available to deal with large amounts of data and high volumes of transactions; to store and analyze then predict and plan. These capabilities are available, but they are not part of the traditional VAN or even of most advanced EDI providers.