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Supply Chain
Integration Technology Can Improve Resiliency, Sustainability in Supply Chain Management

The pandemic-induced supply chain hurdles represent a reboot opportunity for companies. Here, we examine how companies can leverage modern integration technology to both improve supply chain performance and address sustainable supply-chain management practices.

Without a doubt, the world’s supply chains have been put to the test in the past 18 months — as market demand and availability of supplies became unpredictable thanks to COVID-19 disruptions. In planning investments and upgrades to meet these supply chain challenges, we're usually focused on solving consumer goods shortages — backlogs on raw materials to make pharmaceuticals, for example; or the severe semiconductor shortage that’s holding back production of cars and electronic devices.

Less often do we take the opportunity to rethink how these investments might also help with climate change and conservation through adoption of more sustainable supply-chain management systems and practices. In truth, the pandemic-induced supply chain hurdles represent a reboot opportunity on both fronts. Let’s examine how companies can leverage modern integration technology to both improve supply chain performance and address sustainable supply-chain management practices.

Digital transformation to meet both performance, environmental goals

As the pandemic continues, we have seen accelerated digital transformation efforts as companies scramble to adjust to wild supply chain disruptions. Adding to the challenge is the fact that consumers’ high expectations for service and convenience have, if anything, grown even more demanding as people do more transactions and activities online.

Digital transformation of the supply chain is therefore seen as a way to meet these consistently high customer expectations by having more resilient systems behind the scenes to quickly adapt to changes in component availability, transport logistics and other supply chain variables. In mounting these transformations, managers are typically focused squarely on boosting revenue and assuming more control over delivering a better customer experience.

But there’s an added benefit to this model, as well: It’s arguably better for the environment. That’s because, as organizations strategize their digital investments in supply chain, they can produce more efficient and cost-effective operating models that will enhance both resiliency in the face of shifting markets, as well as create as a more sustainable and energy-efficient operation.

For instance, in the Logistics and Transportation sector, the same modernization efforts to ensure resiliency have also become a growing focus area for innovative “green” initiatives driven by consumers, investors and business partners for freight carriers to reduce emissions and help make vehicles and supply chains “cleaner.”

Designing the right solution

To be both efficient and sustainable, supply chain managers need to make integration technology a central focus as they roll up their sleeves to implement digital transformation. That’s because much of what makes for a successful sustainable supply-chain management strategy happens at the fundamental level of integration technology.

Integration technology helps provide visibility and control across the entire supply chain ecosystem to make data-driven, real-time decisions around everything from inventory status, manufacturing slowdowns and supply shortages to logistics, transportation, delivery schedules, pricing changes and more.

Your integration technology approach will likely involve Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) — a mainstream integration software that has been around for years. A mainstay for countless manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, carriers and shippers to move orders through the supply chain, EDI is much simpler, faster and more accurate — and therefore more sustainable than doing paper invoices or purchase orders manually.

Beyond this, with the advent of complex cloud and hybrid cloud environments, we’re now living in an Application Programming Interface (API)-first universe. So, to enhance resilience and sustainability, organizations need to accommodate both API and EDI integration workflows seamlessly. This should ideally be done by combining these capabilities on a single platform that enables simultaneous management of both.

Integration is the backbone

These are just a few of the key factors in addressing integration technology. And while each organization will need to customize its approach somewhat to suit its unique business needs, it’s clear that integration technology can be the backbone of the right modern, cloud-based integration platform specifically designed for today’s B2B businesses to keep both sustainability and profitability top of mind.