The Control Tower: Breaking Down Enterprise Barriers!

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The fifth in our SupplyChainBrain video interview series features Kinaxis CEO Doug Colbeth. These videos are jam-packed with great content, and I highly recommend them. (Free registration is required to view them, but it's well worth it!)

There are no more silos when everyone works with the same data and the same enterprise planning and simulation platform, says Colbeth. Simply stated, loss of control over one's data is one of the greatest supply chain challenges today. Companies often are excited about the benefits of outsourcing, but in many cases their data resides outside the four walls of their enterprise. When they need to base important decisions on that information, problems can result, Colbeth says. “Outsourcing was one of the big change points.” Demand volatility can stem from fickleness of the consumer, new-product introductions or catastrophic events. Whatever the source, companies that don't have command of their data are at a disadvantage. Colbeth says perhaps three of every four customers struggle with demand volatility. Clearly, supply chain performance is critical to meeting customer expectations. “For a lot of our customers, if they lose their top customer, it would have a devastating impact on their business,” Colbeth says. But “any large and disruptive event in the supply chain can have huge implications from a corporate risk standpoint.” That's why managing the supply chain properly can help you differentiate your enterprise from the competition. Colbeth feels many companies have made good headway in people and processes. It's in tools that improvement is needed. For years, he says, he's noticed that demand planners and supply chain planning people had not even met each other. Sales and operations planning might be talked about, but folks charged with it often had never spoken with anyone at the “factory level.” “They were disconnected. That's why Kinaxis set forth on a long and heavy investment in what I call a control tower, where all of these capabilities are essentially part of a single platform.” Colbeth says chief operating officers, CEOs and CFOs he meets want to use their data and model impact on cash flow. “The idea of a control tower is to think beyond the supply chain and be able to simulate anything anywhere at any time. That's what the the control tower enables a large enterprise to do.” No more silos? Not if everyone is working off a single enterprise planing and simulation system, he says. “You can take those eight or 10 disparate planning solutions and basically stop using them.” A company's “heart and soul” may be in its supply chain, but that's where the expensive problems are as well, Colbeth says. And those problems ripple into other areas. “That's why you need a control tower instead of a bunch of different software products that are disparate.”

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