Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Put all data on "cloud"?
About cloud computing
As a non-expert of information technology, I found cloud computing is so amazing but also mysterious. Just like cloud, cloud computing mainly refers to network-based services. Some virtual server serves up real server hardware so that the program can run on one or more real machines. Such virtual servers do not physically exist and can therefore be moved around and scaled up (or down) on the fly without affecting the end user.
Usage in Supply Chain Management
In the increasingly competitive business world, efficiency becomes one of the crucial keys to success. Consumers want their products arrive as early as possible without mistakes, and firms also need to track goods in a timely manner. It is undeniable that business intelligence and data analytics are becoming more important in today’s business, but cloud computing is a tool to information is up-to-date and accessible.
As stated in this week’s article Information Technology in a Supply Chain, information can only be useful when they are accurate, accessible, right and shared. All of the characteristics can be realized based on cloud computing. For example, inventory information can be stored on a cloud server, and any warehouse or offices would access to those information accurately and immediately. It makes supply chain more centralized and consolidated. Also, each warehouse can update the inventory information on fly. Sharing data helps avoid misunderstanding and information asymmetry, so that supply chain managers can make adjustments accordingly, especially for international companies who need manage factories and warehouses in remote locations.
UPS Order WatchSM
In early 2013, UPS introduced their new cloud-based technology platform UPS Order WatchSM. This platform mainly focuses on enhancing UPS supply management in its global ocean and airfreight business. The enhancements may include: added capabilities to enable greater accuracy and timeliness of overseas vendor bookings; improved processing and management of suppliers; automated exception management; near real-time shipment status and detailed line-level visibility of in-transit inventory; improved internal operational processes; and facilitation of purchase order (PO) consolidation and optimized shipping plans.
Risk of IT Adoption
IT in supply chain management seems a powerful tool to improve efficiency, save costs, enhance service level. However, IT could also bring risks to supply chain management and no exception for cloud computing. Since we are in a “big data” era, business heavily relies on data collection and analysis. In order to get more convenient data access and real-time information, more companies use cloud computing to store data. I am concerned if the development of cloud computing would be in the same pace with data increase. How do we deal with information congestion? In the old time, supply chain management needs to tackle with uncertainties of customer demands, but how what if IT would bring bigger and more challenging uncertainties?