Despite technological innovation, the disparity between potential and actual gains from supply chain digitisation can be blamed on the technology gap.

  1. What are these technology gaps?

Bursts of innovation in the supply chain enabled companies to streamline routine processes, improve system capabilities and boost analytics. These gains were often followed by a lull, and that is why technology gaps occurred.

Advances in supply chain technology have been welcome and valuable, but they have not been transformative. True digital innovation has taken time and it is only more recently that we have seen the results accrue and come together to create transformative new solutions. These are enabling companies to make far greater improvements to the supply chain.

  1. Where in the supply chain do they exist?

In our experience, far too many South African SMBs continue to be unable to fully leverage the benefits of digital supply chain management because of inadequate access to the internet and digital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas; lack of funding; limited access to effective solutions; or a lack of internal technological expertise. Limited government support for digital innovation and a lack of investment in research and development further exacerbate the technology gap.

Without sufficient visibility across the extended supply network, companies are unable to see their risks. They don’t have the systems to understand the status of their inventory, to project stock shortage of direct materials and optimise production, or to project stock shortages of finished goods to optimise customer allocation. They also lack the logistics flexibility they need networks to ensure the profitable movement of goods.

Right now, supply chain leaders would be wise to quickly change how they do things if they want to overcome the challenges that arise from lack of visibility, collaboration, and coordination. The need for more automation and information is an opportunity for manufacturers.

  1. How are they impacting the implementation of a truly digital supply chain?

By adopting digital tech and accelerating the automation of business processes, companies can gain a vital edge in a tough market. The pandemic showed how many businesses are vulnerable to global shocks through their supply chain relationships. It exposed weaknesses like long lead times, lack of visibility that leads to a higher risk of disruption, and the dangers of lack of diversification that comes from excessive reliance on one location or supplier. Technologies such as SAP Business One are available to improve visibility across the end-to-end supply chain and support greater supply chain agility and resilience. By adopting digital tech and accelerating the automation of business processes, companies can gain a vital edge in a tough market.

Digital supply networks like these are being built and designed to anticipate disruptions and reconfigure themselves appropriately to lessen the impact of events. They will enable the digital supply networks of the future, regardless of industry sector.

  1. Can these gaps be filled (and by what technology)?

Seidor Africa, which represents SAP Business One in South Africa, can enable companies to build a more productive and data-led business.

The technology closes the identified gaps in three key ways:

  • Businesses gain access to the real-time, reliable information they require to align components such as stock levels (in-stock and on order) with customer orders (current & back-order) and accurate delivery schedules.
  • Businesses move from a reactive, back-capture methodology to continuous manufacturing processes where material consumption, stage updates and quality control data is entered real-time on the production floor to aid accurate stock management, replenishment, and efficient order fulfilment. Continuous manufacturing and electronic tracking are also key to identify any potential inefficiencies in certain production lines or phases of production.
  • Providing sales reps with the ability to view pricing, stock availability and place orders in real time from their mobile phone or tablet while in the field or with a customer, through SAP B1 Mobile Sales application integrated to SAP Business One. Having these orders added to the manufacturing and subsequent delivery cycle automatically, provides an invaluable advantage for businesses in the supply chain industry.