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What is a Digital Supply Chain Platform?

International supply chains are incredibly complex. Supply chain stakeholders must understand and manage vast amounts of information, ensuring the smooth flow of data, materials, and products at every stage. It’s a huge challenge.


Fortunately, specialized, cloud-collaboration software exists to make the whole process much easier and more efficient–the Digital Supply Chain Platform. We’ll explore this exciting new area, answer your questions, and explain how these platforms can revolutionize supply chain management.

What Does a Digital Supply Chain Platform Do?

A digital supply chain platform brings together all of your data and processes to provide a centralized, real-time view of your supply chain. It helps you to collect, track, process, and act on information from across all of your supply chain partners.

A digital supply chain platform empowers you to lower costs, stay compliant, reduce risks, speed up time-to-market, eliminate problems, and gain transparency. This cloud software will integrate with other applications, systems, and data stores from across your supply chain partners, providing a trustworthy, complete, and holistic view of your operations.

Used correctly, the right platform will transform your supply chain business.


What’s Driving the Development and Adoption of Supply Chain Platforms?

There are several trends influencing the move to digital platforms–from competition and economics, through sustainability and politics, to technology and industry.


How Are Regulations, Compliance, and the Legal Environment Affecting Digital Supply Chains?

Increasingly, governments and other regulatory bodies are introducing new legislation and compliance rules for the sourcing, manufacture, and logistics of materials and products. These range from strong Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards through to ensuring a level playing field and economic opportunities for all. 

One recent example is a new German supply chain law that “imposes significant obligations on companies that source their products and services through supply chains from developing and emerging countries and sell them in Germany to comply with human rights and environmental standards.”

We have similar encouraging initiatives in many areas and countries. For instance, the New York Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (“Fashion Act”), currently under consideration in the New York State Assembly, would require companies to map their supply chain and disclose environmental and social responsibility criteria in public reports. If passed, this legislation will mandate greater accountability over companies’ sustainability efforts. It will also require companies to undertake extensive due diligence and subject companies to a potential private right of action.

Digital supply chain platforms allow businesses to track ESG performance and regulations across multiple areas to ensure they stay compliant.


How Are Sustainability and Environmental Protections Influencing Supply Chain Software?

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the supply chain. At the same time, governments are implementing stricter environmental controls.

It’s something we think about a lot at Topo, and we’ve previously stated that, “We’ll also see new legislation come into effect, from individual states in the U.S. to new laws in China and standards in other parts of the world. Whether it’s a carbon tax, cap, and trade, or other methods, the need to reduce greenhouse gasses is a major driver for new policies.”

The best digital supply chain platforms make it easier to track and reduce emissions and other environmental risks. This positions businesses to easily adapt to new legislation and reassures consumers that they are implementing robust sustainability approaches.


How Are Cost Pressures and Competition Driving Supply Chain Platform Adoption?

Inflationary trends, trade wars, and COVID-19 are significantly increasing supply chain costs, while globalization means that competition is becoming increasingly fierce. Supply chain firms have seen profit margins slashed, forcing ever-keener pricing that hurts the bottom line.

There’s a huge need to understand every cost involved in sourcing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, and selling products–from individual unit economics to fixed costs, fuel, tariffs, and other expenses. A digital supply chain platform can help, significantly increasing transparency, with end-to-end visibility that allows for better cost control, pricing, and profit margins.


How Do Technological Advances Encourage an Integrated Supply Chain Platform?

We’ve seen an enormous acceleration in technological change over the last decade–cloud technology, Big Data, smart logistics, AI, IoT devices, and other innovations change the way supply chains function, communicate, and deliver. In fact, we believe that we are about to enter a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.

Industry 4.0 is where our sourcing, manufacturing, and industrial processes meet the digital age. This impacts the supply chain industry as part of “Supply Chain 4.0” which McKinsey describes as, “The application of the Internet of Things, the use of advanced robotics, and the application of advanced analytics of big data in supply chain management: place sensors in everything, create networks everywhere, automate anything, and analyze everything to significantly improve performance and customer satisfaction.”

Rather than trying to manually consolidate all of these different applications and systems, a digital supply chain platform integrates these diverse technologies. A cloud-based collaborative platform makes it easy to connect with data, wherever it is. It makes information sharing effortless, and grows as you bring in new partners, systems, and networks. Manage all of this data efficiently through a digital platform. This lets you surface the most important information and use it to drive smart business decisions, based on the latest industrial trends.


What Advantages Will a Digital Platform Provide to Your Supply Chain Business? 

The move to an integrated, centralized platform has enormous benefits, and we’ve broken down some of the key areas.


Control Costs Using a Supply Chain Platform

  • Get insight into the individual expenses and cost basis for every product.
  • Consolidate costs together for an end-to-end, total cost of ownership.
  • Identify major cost drivers and increases.
  • Take action to lower costs, increase prices, and prevent leakage.
  • Preserve profit margins across the whole supply chain network.


Enhance Reporting and Increase Transparency with Cloud-Based Supply Chain Software

  • Use data connectors to gather data from multiple sources, both within your business and from supply chain partners.
  • Easily integrate with other systems through APIs.
  • Consolidate information together, and apply filtering and rules to rationalize and sanitize data.
  • Present actionable information in a compelling way to drive smart business decisions.
  • Set baselines, thresholds, and alarms for early identification of problems, trends, and performance.


Meet Compliance and Sustainability Requirements Throughout the Digital Supply Chain

  • Gather regulatory and environmental information from all supply chain stakeholders.
  • Comply with the latest guidelines, legislation, and regulatory frameworks.
  • Measure performance and results against compliance thresholds, targets, and best practices.
  • Track and implement regulatory and sustainability initiatives to reduce environmental impact.
  • Ensure accountability and activity across all stakeholders to stay in line with compliance requirements.


Mitigate Risks and Maintain Quality with Supply Chain Partners

  • Carry out detailed analysis to understand the likelihood and impact of risks throughout the supply chain.
  • Implement and track mitigating actions to protect your brand, reputation, finances, customers, and products.
  • Introduce strong quality control and monitoring processes for supplier and manufacturer partners.
  • Drive inspections, assessments, and audits to ensure you and your partners are meeting all requirements. 


Enhance Speed-to-Market and Save Time

  • Ensure close collaboration across supply chain partners.
  • Build a collective approach across all collaborators for effective, multi-disciplinary initiatives.  
  • Review parts and products virtually to allow for rapid supply, manufacturing, and prototyping.
  • Explore multiply options and contingencies for suppliers, manufacturers, and logistics to reduce order times and distribution.
  • Get early sight of potential bottlenecks and disruptions.
  • Provide accountability to relevant stakeholders for resolving problems. 
  • Take action to reroute products and minimize delays.


Centralize All of Your Information in One Place and Create One Source of the Truth

  • Instantly share verified information with other supply chain stakeholders.
  • Track performance against contractual obligations and Service Level Agreements.
  • Instantly communicate with your supply chain platform in an object specific manner via a tidy and fully tracable Messenger Chat and Video Communication.
  • Get a single, unified view across your entire supply chain.


Digitizing your supply chain processes drives benefits throughout your business. A digital supply chain platform will reduce operational overheads, streamline partner interactions, drive lasting change, and transform how you think and work.


What Does the Future Hold for Digital Supply Chain Platforms?

The best cloud-based supply chain software doesn’t just focus on what’s happening now, it plans for what’s coming over the horizon.


Adapting to New Technology Trends

We’re going to see even greater advances in technology, including:

  • Much greater adoption of 5G and Edge Computing to allow for extremely accurate tracking and measurement of supply chain assets, products, and other resources.
  • Enhanced forecasting and predictive analytics for even more streamlined  manufacturing.
  • Hyper-local logistics distribution for delivery within hours rather than days.
  • Increased use of augmented reality to assist with auditing, inventory management, and managing data-driven supply chain processes.
  • Automation and machine learning to lessen reliance on manual work..

A digital platform will connect to all of these leading-edge technologies, making their power easily accessible to forward-looking supply chain businesses. 


Increasing ESG and Legal Awareness

The need for stronger controls is only going to increase:

  • Greater social and environmental accountability for businesses throughout the supply chain.
  • More comprehensive emission reduction legislation is in the pipeline.
  • Businesses are having to adapt to challenging new regulatory frameworks.
  • You need to collaborate across multiple supply chain stakeholders to ensure end-to-end initiatives and mitigating actions.
  • Transparency and integration are becoming even more urgent.


The Topo Digital Supply Chain Platform Gives You the Insight and Control You Need 

We cover the entire journey of your products, from sourcing, product development, ordering, and production to quality, ESG controls, and sustainability management. Our supply chain platform digitally transforms your business— regardless of your industry. 

At the same time, your business gets to bring its costs down, shorten lead times, manage risk more effectively, and meet strict regulations and compliance. Even better, the Topo cloud collaboration platform provides your business with the agility and resilience to really move the needle. Enjoy a customized, low-code approach to create the tools and reports you need.

Contact us today and see how we can revolutionize your business. 

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