Integrated, Real-Time Logistics Data Can Make All the Difference in the Supply Chain

Successful supply chain integration is often a question of logistics. The efficiency with which partner companies in a supply chain are able to detect and adapt to changes in logistics is an important factor in supply chain outcomes.

But infrastructural differences and variations in in-house logistics systems can frequently cause bottlenecks, imposing delays and additional cost to the movement of cargo through the chain.

Michael Frans, a South African business development expert, recently proposed telematics as a solution to these difficulties. Telematics, introduction of GPS data, vehicle identification, product RFID and other data that can be used to track delivery in real time, can strengthen supply chain integration by flagging potential delays ahead of time and keeping all chain participants on the ready to respond to problems in delivery.

“There are endless possibilities for the data stored within telematics solutions,” Frans said. “It is all about how this data is managed, and the ability to break down siloes to deliver real-time information to stakeholders when and where they need it.”

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webMethods AS4 Demonstrates a New Standard for B2B Web Services Adoption

SoftwareAG has released a version of its webMethods Module for B2B document exchange that implements the new AS4 mapping standard, advancing the potential utility of web services in B2B integration.

Dave Hardman, product marketing manager for SoftwareAG, explained the importance of the advance in a recent blog:

“AS4 does what seemed previously impossible: making the adoption of web services for B2B usable,” Hardman said. He pointed out that the web services standard for B2B document payload delivery – ebXML Messaging Services, or ebMS – is so flexible as to make implementation very difficult.

AS4 constrains ebMS to essentials, he said, making it easier to leverage web services in B2B integration, providing true interoperability. “The leaner AS4 profile simplifies the usage of ebMS, making it easier to adopt web services for B2B transactions.”

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Consolidating In-House B2B Processes May Have Many Potential Benefits

It is often the case, especially in larger companies, that several B2B point solutions might be deployed to accommodate, for instance, different business units. Often, these solutions are sought at different times by different groups, with no real awareness that other solutions are already in place in-house, and with no IT coordination.

Dave Hardman, industry expert in B2B integration, recently suggested that consolidating multiple solutions can have significant benefits for the enterprise.

Increased visibility could be an immediate result of consolidation, he pointed out, as multiple B2B solutions mean multiple transaction logs. A single log makes compliance and transaction management far simpler and less costly, as well as making security easier.

Increased agility and decreased complexity are also proven products of consolidation, he continued. A single integration solution is more scalable and easier to manage overall, with single-point maintenance. The complexity of multiple upgrades, disparate platform maintenance and the proliferation of endpoints in multiple solution also imposes a complexity that is greatly reduced when a single solution is employed.

Hardman pointed out a final important benefit: reduced cost, derived from time and labor saved in reduced maintenance and support. When B2B integration needs across business units are an issue, he recommended that companies consider a single broad and highly scalable platform.

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Awareness and Visibility Will Be Enhanced by the Emerging “Internet of Things”

The Internet of Things – the connection of everyday objects to the Internet – can, and should, enhance awareness and visibility in the digital supply chain, said Sean Riley of SoftwareAG in a recent essay on supply chain trends.

An executive in supply chain management software, Riley noted that the ubiquity of devices able to communicate via public networks is firmly established, as the number of people carrying mobile computing devices continues to rise, and the sheer quantity of devices used for Internet communication is climbing still faster.

A recent Gartner forecast, he pointed out, predicted that the number of interconnected everyday objects, laptops, tablets and smartphones aside, could be as high as 30 billion by 2020.

What would be the effect of the proliferation of such connectedness? According to the Gartner study, Manufacturing would benefit significantly, with a potential cross-sector gain of 15 percent. IoT, Riley pointed out, can offer the digital supply chain greatly increased real-time visibility, which in turn heightens awareness throughout the chain.

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