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Transparency up and down the supply chain is crucial to succeeding in today’s global market, according to Lalit Wadhwa, vice president of global supply chain solutions for electronics distributor Avnet Inc. Transparency allows for flexibility in the face of disruptions and encourages innovation as new needs are identified in different regions.
But getting “real-time transparency in our global world is difficult,” Wadhwa says.
Wadhwa was a keynote speaker at the Interlog 2014 Conference in Rancho Bernardo, CA, last month. He spoke with MDM after the conference.
Many of the challenges vary from industry to industry and from company to company, Wadhwa says, but there are some common themes. First, true transparency requires a strong technology platform. Second, it requires a focus on aligning different data structures from different platforms.
And overcoming these challenges requires everyone in the supply chain to be working toward the same goal, which can be a challenge in of itself.
“You have to make sure there are benefits for everyone,” Wadhwa says. “If there are benefits for everyone, it’s far easier to achieve transparency.” If only some of the partners benefit, there’s no reason for the other partners to invest in the necessary changes, he says.
Improving supply chain transparency has several long-term advantages, Wadhwa says. It provides the ability to benchmark and creates a standardized method for sharing data with channel partners. It encourages innovation because it provides better understanding of the needs and challenges of partners and opens the door for better collaboration to resolve issues. And it offers the ability to deliver both predictive and prescriptive analytics all along the supply chain.
Benefits will be seen in stronger relationships between partners and in financial performance.
“This is a long-term journey,” Wadhwa says. “It’s based on creating a vision for the future.”