What is a Supply Chain? Edit
In order to understand the effects of technology on the Supply Chain environment, it is important to first understand the basics of supply chain and its management. A supply chain is the network or parties involved in any way in the fulfillment of a customer’s request. A supply chain trails back to the origin of the raw materials used in order to fulfill customer requests and trickles down the chain through manufacturing/processing, transportation, holding, retailing, and finally the customer. (1)
At first glance, it seems elementary to understand an entity’s supply chain; assess the demand and order finished goods down the supply chain to meet those demands. The intricacies with supply chain, however, lie in the ever-changing marketplace that constantly shifts consumer needs and wants. There is a notion that the supply chain is, or at least should be, a dynamic environment in which retailers have first access to changing demand data and this information filters up the supply chain and adjust accordingly. Issues seen in the business place however with this filtering of changing data are inherent such as demand forecasting errors, lagged demand and preemptive demand. These demand data issues are the root for certain phenomenon such as the bullwhip effect; this phenomena explains the event in which minor forecasts of data detected at the retailer end of the supply chain cause exponentially greater, usually worse effects up the supply chain. In order to prevent such inefficiencies, the field of Supply Chain Management emerges.
Supply Chain Management ExplainedEdit
A 2011 Bloomberg Business Week article states that B-school students are demonstrating an increased interest in concentrations of supply chain as comfortable, stable, and high paying jobs could be waiting for them at the end of their studies. (2) A supply chain manager (SCM) is responsible for ensuring that the company supply chain is operating at the most efficient and effective matter, especially in regards to time and cost; this is usually a 5-step process that includes planning, development, manufacturing, logistics, and of course, returns. (3) For many companies, SCM is a source of competitive advantage. Consequently, companies try and arm themselves with as many tools as possible to better their supply chain. For most companies, these tools are varying technologies.
Effects of Technology on the Management of Supply ChainEdit
Companies need the capability of transmitting dynamic, constantly changing data quickly and efficiently up and down the supply chain. Supply chain parties are also interest in sometimes knowing what happens to a product after it leaves the retailer. These needs brought about the emergence of certain technologies such as .