Cloud Technology Optimizing Supply Chain Practices

May 16th, 2014 by - 3,483 views

As cloud computing continues to penetrate business practices on a global scale, it’s no surprise that third-party logistics providers and other supply chain participants are now making use of the technology. With the goals of improving product oversight, providing greater insight into distribution practices, and creating a new method of securing corporate and consumer data, professionals are beginning to look to cloud platforms for the answer.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

The protection of assets
Consumers consider their personal finances to be information every bit as critical as corporate intelligence. Therefore, it’s imperative that businesses recognize that customer data is equally important. How does distribution factor into this equation? A number of merchandisers have improved inventory fulfillment by supplying their logistics providers with order information. This practice lets warehouse management understand how to adjust the housing of small shipments to expedite delivery.

However, this procedure necessitates stringent data protection. According to The Guardian, Information Systems Audit and Control Association International Vice President Ramses Galego noted that a single fault in an e-commerce partner’s security protocol can potentially compromise an entire distribution operation. The danger is that access to thousands of company and customer records could be accidentally divulged to cybercriminals if security best practices aren’t followed.

“That’s one of the reasons why BMW and Mercedes are said to be taking on more IT engineers than automotive engineers,” said Galego, as quoted by the news source. “They’re building huge data centers, but they then have to ensure the way data is collected and stored is well governed throughout the whole supply chain.”

Galego claimed that adequate access management can help protect data held in cloud servers. For example, authorized personnel wishing to gain access to customer order information will log into the system. When their cell phone number is registered in the platform as legitimate, a one-time-use approval code will be sent to them via text message, granting them entry into the environment.

Social responsibility
Now more than ever, consumers are cognizant of environmental best practices and how corporations regard human rights. Commodity-selling organizations throughout the United States are beginning to realize that disclosing how their products are manufactured and distributed will help them retain customers. For example, Enterprise Irregulars reported that IBM and Oracle may lose business due to their poor commitment to renewable energy resources. The source noted that the two companies have been open about their practices, however, which has helped them maintain a favorable reputation among consumers.

Ultimately, cloud infrastructure can help enterprises find ways to promote in-house sustainability and safely divulge information to the public. Businesses that collect millions of data points on a daily basis view cloud technology as providing an environment in which they can organize and analyze that information. As a result, they can quickly assemble reports on distribution practices that help transportation and warehousing experts figure out how to integrate green technology into daily practices to improve the company’s brand.

So, how does cloud computing promote transparency? For one thing, it makes it easier for a company to aggregate and share intelligence. If every department in an organization contributes to the data held in cloud storage, the company will be better able to inform its customers how different segments of the operation implement environmental and ethical practices. In addition, cloud infrastructures make it easy for businesses to transfer analytical reports to public domains where the information can be shared with consumers.

Inventory requirements
According to Syncron, advanced supply chain management solutions integrated with cloud computing can expedite data collection processes and connect merchandisers with every other distribution participant, from manufacturers to transportation professionals. This level of integration lets retailers pinpoint where to implement adjustments throughout the supply chain to optimize the flow of goods. For example, warehouse managers could leverage order information in a corporate cloud server to figure out which products are in high demand, thereby allowing them to stock up on items that are most likely to be ordered consistently by customers.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that cloud computing will have a significant impact on the supply chain industry. Organizations that use the services of hosting companies to provide the technology will benefit from the better oversight of operations that is sure to follow.

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