Use hybrid IT to help your partners and suppliers transform along with you
Supply chain management (SCM) has long been a complex and esoteric element of the enterprise IT strategy. Many companies invested millions to implement systems that would link them with their partners and suppliers, effectively positioning themselves as the centre of gravity of an entire ecosystem.
With cloud services exploding, however, those same businesses are finding that embracing a hybrid IT environment allows them to maintain their existing systems while tapping into revolutionary new collaboration, customisation, and delivery capabilities.
The broad accessibility of cloud solutions, backed by their positioning as a ‘single source of the truth’ where enterprise data can live and be repurposed, makes them an ideal addition to enterprise IT systems and a key driver for digital transformation (DX) efforts.
Contemporary cloud-based SCM solutions offer self-service capabilities to help suppliers manage their relationships more effectively, with better access to other members of the trading ecosystem.
A recent Gartner analysis tapped into the growing momentum around cloud-based SCM solutions, with the revenue of cloud-only providers growing an average 41.4 percent last year and dominant SCM suppliers like SAP, Oracle, LDA, and Infor all pursuing cloud strategies to modernise their platforms.
This level of growth “is happening because SCM technologies are a key component of delivering digital business strategies,” said Gartner research director Balaji Abbabatulla, noting the particular appeal of cloud solutions to small and mid-sized companies that have not traditionally been able to implement and manage their own on-premises SCM platforms.
“Cloud solutions typically have lower barriers to entry and are more easily scalable, and are therefore a better fit for midsize organisations looking at SCM for competitive advantage,” Abbabatulla said. “We expect that vendors offering a well-defined, vertical-industry-oriented strategy for midsize organisations will grow rapidly over the next five years.”
Enabling supply chains with hybrid IT
The surging popularity of cloud-based solutions may be helping smaller companies communicate better with partners and suppliers, but it’s not a complete replacement for complex supply-chain systems that have evolved over many years.
A hybrid IT approach allows businesses to modernise their supply-chain interactions without having to completely redo years of development and refinement. Combining on-premises systems with cloud-based capabilities ensures existing data protection and redundancy measures are retained – all the while allowing businesses to tap into the benefits of cloud services.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) toolkits, for example, are increasingly being delivered as cloud-based AI as a service (AIaaS) offerings to improve supply-chain analysis and forecasting. Cloud-based communities of interest are unifying partners and suppliers online, providing new collaborative tools that bridge distances and allow companies to work more closely than ever.
Today’s supply chains are managed using enterprise systems that are being upgraded and expanded to support ongoing and anticipated growth. This is the nature of DX – but transformation works best when all partners and suppliers in a supply chain network have access to the same capabilities.
By choosing a service-provider partner with the resources and capabilities to support that change, you can deliver a hybrid IT environment that combines the robust availability, scalability and maturity of your existing back-end systems with the cloud capabilities you need.
This means building private-cloud environments with public-cloud flexibility, ensuring that transformation proceeds at speed with all of the security, governance, auditability and efficiency that your supply relationships require – regardless of where your suppliers are located or how mature their own systems are.
A hybrid IT approach allows cloud-based tools to be integrated with existing supply chains, applying novel technologies to specific areas of weakness and inefficiency. Because they are as readily available to small and specialist suppliers as they are to large distributors and retailers, cloud-based tools create a rising tide that benefits every member of the supply chain.
Leveraged correctly, that rising tide will quickly streamline business processes; eliminate double-handling; reduce error rates; automate burdensome business and compliance processes; and help even the smallest partner embrace new technologies and adopt best-practice techniques that they could never access on their own.
In the end, hybrid IT is all about simplification, orchestration, and automation. By allowing businesses to keep legacy systems intact while tapping into cloud-based service innovation, you can get the best of both worlds – and bring your partners and suppliers along on the journey with you.