Digital Shift

Oracle MSCE web photo

Interest in Cloud Technologies has Evolved from Skepticism to Curiosity

Oracle hosted its fifth annual Modern Supply Chain Experience (MSCE) this February in San Jose, Calif., and the depth and breadth of the company’s cloud supply chain applications were on full display. As one of the largest gatherings of supply chain professionals, MSCE attracts more than 2,500 attendees, including business leaders who are responsible for end-to-end supply chain solutions and those who have a focused supply chain expertise in areas including logistics, planning and manufacturing. MSCE provided in-depth opportunities to see and learn about the business benefits of an interconnected and integrated supply chain.

According to IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Supply Chain 2017 Predictions, by 2019, 50 percent of manufacturing supply chains will have benefited from digital transformation, with the remainder held back by outdated business models or functional structures. Given that’s less than two years away, companies must leverage innovative processes and technology advancements now to transform their supply chain. If you are not already on the path to the cloud, you are falling behind.

“By 2020, virtually every major supply chain has to be reinvented in order to remain competitive. The IT world is changing extremely rapidly. But that’s not just for you as an end user, it’s also for all the people that supply the technology that you use,” Dave Donatelli, executive vice president of converged infrastructure at Oracle, said in his keynote address.

Over the course of three days, MSCE featured around 150 sessions across PLM, supply chain planning, logistics and order management, maintenance, manufacturing, procurement and end-to-end supply chain. While no one can be exactly sure of what the future of supply chain management looks like, it is inevitable that the momentum of the cloud will ultimately propel businesses to the cloud sooner than later.

IDC observed that, in contrast to MSCE 2016 when manufacturers were struggling to understand how the transition would play out, at MSCE 2017 the skepticism had turned to curiosity. By initiating the effort to move in a cloud-first direction, IDC also noted that “Oracle showed the kind of vision that enterprise companies should want in their technology partners. In addition, Oracle has done a solid job of acquiring functionality and R&D through its recent acquisitions that help bring the applications to the market without the time and development of doing so internally,” IDC said in Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience 2017 — Finding Success in the Cloud.

“Yesterday’s applications will continue to solve yesterday’s problems,” said Rick Jewell, senior vice president of supply chain applications for Oracle. “Our guiding principles for building applications for this new digital age, this new digital threat, is broader, better and faster; building a comprehensive suite of applications from the ground up that support business best practices so, as you grow the number of those applications, they drive you to a larger value proposition for your larger business transformation.” 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is among the driving technologies that give businesses actionable insights from the tracking of sensors connected to vehicles, machinery and employees. At MSCE, Oracle announced four IoT cloud applications that further optimize the digital supply chain with improved visibility and predictive insights. Asset monitoring cloud, connected worker cloud, fleet monitoring cloud and production monitoring cloud are out-of-the box solutions that help organizations harness the benefits of IoT faster and easier.

“IoT, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing are all key disruptive technologies that are upon us, and it’s incumbent on you to realize that taking advantage of those technologies to really change the business and business processes is necessary to be consistent and relevant moving forward,” Jewell said. He stressed that these new technologies are all going to affect the supply chain – whether businesses are ready or not. Companies who are quick to embrace and adopt them will gain a distinct competitive advantage.

A next-generation supply chain can only be realized if employees serve as the center of the cloud transformation by creating an “environment in which you can allow people to learn, for people to develop and to embrace their passions,” said Stuart Whiting, senior vice president of logistics and network design at Schneider Electric. “It’s about people. Give them the transparency, give them the vision and to believe that they will make it happen.”

In another announcement made during MSCE, Jewell discussed a roadmap for AI applications that will enhance supply chain cloud applications. In the coming months, the Adaptive Intelligent Dynamic Planning and Bidding application will optimize costs for both buyers and transporters.

“To understand your future supply chains, you have to understand who the consumer is becoming and make certain you can service them not only efficiently, but more importantly, quickly and nearly all the time,” Jewell emphasized.

Another highlight of the event was the Oracle Cloud UX Lab, which enabled participants to offer feedback on products and features before their release. This program is just one component of Oracle’s broad agenda to incorporate the voice of the customer to inform and shape the direction of its supply chain applications.

“We don’t wake up one day and decide to change the supply chain and the enterprise technology model,” said Roddy Martin, vice president of SCM cloud product marketing at Oracle. “This is about building new technology and digitally enabled business capabilities. The supply chain needs to be driven from the outside-in to ensure the focus is on meeting customer and market needs, not just supply-driven for asset efficiency. The focus is on responsiveness to meet overall business goals in a volatile demand market so these goals are centered on meeting customer service levels and not just filling plant and inventory capacity in plants. Enabling efficient and effective business today requires companies to chart a transformation journey for their end-to-end supply chain. And it’s a journey that has to be led from the highest levels of the business. It’s a shift to new mental models of supply chain and new business operating models for the business.” 

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