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By Monica Mehta
Global markets and supply chains have been shaken by an unusual number of events over the past twelve months: some $4 trillion in M&A activity; oil prices have fallen to below $30 a barrel; innovations such as driverless and autonomous vehicles have been introduced in meaningful ways, with many such functions entering the mainstream auto industry; and regulatory agencies have levied large fines against companies for product safety and emissions issues. We’ve also seen significant process improvements in the area of electronic payments, and the ripple effects of financial events such as the sharp decline in the Shanghai Composite Index.
Plan to watch the Oracle Supply Chain Planning Cloud webcast.
Businesses and customers around the world are being forced to take these events into account and make adjustments to their current supply chain processes.
By and large, however, most supply chains are running on on-premises applications that were designed in the last century to solve last-century problems, and built in an era of slower change. They are proving to be a hindrance to executives’ ability to drive things forward.
“The cloud is what’s needed to take advantage of the next generation—to truly move into a digital supply chain world,” says Rick Jewell, Oracle’s senior vice president for applications development, who delivered the keynote at the Modern Supply Chain Experience in San Jose, California on January 26. According to Jewell, 80 percent of organizations are already leveraging some part of the cloud for their supply chain, or are considering the cloud within the next 12 months.
“We really are on the precipice of a major sea change in supply chain,” says Jewell, as all supply chain customers are now moving to the cloud. “This is unlike any other technological change we’re seen in the past—this is huge.”
Here are a few of the capabilities that the cloud can provide to the supply chain.
“Change and volatility is now the new norm in the supply chain world,” says Jewell. The systems that companies such as Oracle are building can help businesses more easily monitor and manage inventory and pricing as well as the changes that will affect their supply chains.
With just a few exceptions—like the cost of oil—costs rise everywhere. Yet, “there’s an ongoing pressure to do it cheaper and faster than you ever did before,” says Jewell. With supply chain management in the cloud, cloud application providers take on the responsibility of maintaining the hardware and software, so managers can use their IT dollars on resources that add more direct value.
Oracle has made a major commitment to its line of supply chain products in the cloud. With new cloud applications for order management, manufacturing, and planning added to its existing cloud suite for product lifecycle management, logistics, and procurement, this year marks the biggest ever expansion of Oracle supply chain management applications. Customers can take advantage of Oracle’s new innovations in the cloud. “You have the ability to uptake those [innovations] without using a forklift in the process,” Jewell says. “And that continues with each new set of capabilities we deliver.”
Just as modern cloud applications in human capital management and enterprise resource management are designed using the same principles as consumer applications, such intuitive user interfaces are available with supply chain applications in the cloud as well. Jewell likens it to “using your iPhone. You immediately know what to do with it—it guides you to your next step.” Data in Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud is presented in an organized fashion and configurable for personal use, and there is social enablement throughout.
We really are on the precipice of a major sea change in supply chain.
—Rick Jewell, Oracle Senior Vice President for Applications Development
Oracle’s strategy is to deliver broader, better, faster supply chain cloud services that are quick and easy to implement, integrate, and maintain, allowing its customers to innovate more quickly, harness analytics, focus more keenly on customers, and react in a more agile manner.
This doesn’t mean companies need to throw out their current systems to take advantage of new services. Oracle’s customers are taking a number of different journeys to the cloud. Some are undergoing a complete transformation, while others are taking a more complementary or incremental approach. Some are taking an individual business function into the cloud and complementing their existing on-premises systems. Others are keeping their large corporate facilities on an on-premises Oracle Enterprise Business Suite system while moving smaller manufacturing plants, distribution centers, or sales sites to the cloud.
But the fact is, supply chain in the cloud is the trend of the future. “We believe that at some point in time, 100 percent of customers are going to migrate to the cloud,” says Jewell. “It’s not a matter of if—it’s a matter of when.”