Cloud Transforms Global Supply Chain Management

News Sentinel, November 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Cloud Transforms Global Supply Chain Management


Commercial fishermen in Italy had a problem; they were catching too many fish. Oversupply lowered prices and reduced their revenue.

Supply chain management consultants from International Business Machines, working with local economic development agencies, came up with a solution based on supply chain management.

Cloud-based analytical tools developed by IBM allowed the fleet to measure in real time how many fish were being caught, how many were being sold and for how much, increasing income by 25 percent, according to Mike Ray, a vice president of strategy and transformation for IBM.

"It's amazing that the cloud can revolutionize an industry as old as fishing," he said.

Ray was the keynote speaker at the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration Global Supply Chain Institute Forum this week. Supply chain management experts from more than 50 organizations ranging from Apple Computer to the Air Force attended the three-day forum.

IBM is using technology, including cloud based computing, to transform its global supply chain strategy to be more responsive to both internal and external clients, Ray said.

"The supply chain scope has expanded significantly," he said.

As a result, the supply chain itself is moving from a linear model to something that looks more like a network, he said. IBM is integrating more functions, including procurement engineering, post sales support and invoicing under the supply chain management umbrella.

The effort to reinvent IBM's supply chain strategy is focused on engaging with "game changing trends" including use of cloud technology to move from "information hoarding to information sharing," he said.

A cloud-based Quality Early Warning System developed by IBM can detect and prioritize quality control issues up to eight weeks faster than traditional statistical process control tools, he said.

Managing talent through increased training and becoming more agile are also part of the plan addressing the trends.

Ray pointed to the July 2008 bombings in Bangalore, India as an example of the need for agility. The incident brought traffic in the city to a halt. IBM employees were unable to get to work and were told to stay home. After determining that all employees were safe management was able to transfer support services to a site in Budapest within one hour. …

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