Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Supply Chain Clouds


The additional resource I am highlighting is tied to this week's article on the value of cloud computing to supply chain. Like most non-MISMs, the "cloud" is more of a colloquial expression I use without a firm understanding of what it actually is. This company that advertises its cloud computing services with a KPMG partnership tersely provides a snapshot of cloud computing and how it can redefine IT solutions and supply chain management


One of the key advantages of the cloud is its scalability given the virtualized infrastructure it provides without being tied to fixed hardware or servers. In addition, the potential to bring all stakeholders in the supply chain under a united information exchange platform to provide instant real-time updates on supply and demand could reduce costs in a way companies have not imagined before. The benefits of cloud computing seem all positive and the cloud capability exists. Other than the reasoning that innovative practices take time before full-scale adoption in an industry it seems cloud computing is the future. However, the discussion of private and public clouds in this week's article brought up an interesting point and an assumption that is overlooked in this context. Everyone assumes open and instant exchange of information in the supply chain between suppliers, manufacturers, and other players is a good thing for everybody involved. However, disclosure of supply chain information even to a business client can end up in the hands of your competitor who will now get a better sense of your capabilities and position themselves strategically against you.


How much information would parties in the supply chain really share with one another using a cloud system? Everyone wants to lower cost but full disclosure of capabilities does pose a business risk. What type of contingencies would be involved if stakeholders agreed to a cloud system for supply chain information exchange?

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