Commentary | IT Matters

Business Intelligence: The Key to Success in Asia Pacific

Tags: Logistics I.T., Asia

Thomas Halliday, General Manager, AEB (Asia Pacific), +65 63379300

The Asia Pacific region is becoming the next supply chain battleground. Instead of being a low-cost manufacturing region, it is developing into a significant marketplace as affluence and consumer demand increases. Many multinational corporations are already shifting key business functions to Asia Pacific to better understand the market and position themselves to capitalize on burgeoning opportunities.

The focus on Asia will bring about more supply chain complexity and challenges, highlighting the need for business intelligence. It will be a period of change and transition, and an optimized supply chain will be a huge competitive advantage.

Business Intelligence: A Smart Move

In the past, developing regions had to play catch up with developed countries in terms of building technological infrastructure for IT solutions. With cloud computing and other tools, however, Asia Pacific companies are in a unique position to implement sophisticated solutions quickly and effectively.

Many businesses have already adopted IT solutions to manage various aspects of their supply chain. These efforts are often intended to solve a problem or streamline a process and create visibility. In spite of having these solutions for years, visibility and business intelligence remain a problem as there is a general lack of know-how on how to use it properly. There are three main areas of the supply chain where business intelligence can drive change in Asia Pacific.

 

  1. Supply chain transformation. First and foremost, business intelligence should be viewed as a tool to improve your business rather than a data bank. Often, executives mistake business intelligence as a reporting software to provide data on their dashboards, especially in Asia Pacific. Some IT solution vendors are taking the extra step to work with and educate companies on how to get the best out of their solutions, turning the supply chain into a competitive advantage to support the company's business strategy. When operating in a new and unfamiliar region, the ability to really drill down into the data and make sense of the information can be the difference between success and failure.
  2. Visibility drives collaboration.Professionals in the industry will have heard the mantra "collaboration is key" being chanted over and over again. However, we have reached a stage where various supply chain partners (vendors, customers, distributors, manufacturers, etc.) are finally realizing that working together towards a common goal and sharing intelligence and information leads to a win-win situation and a well operating supply chain in the long run. With continued innovation in technology, the increased access to information will also force tighter collaboration and interdependence between stakeholders. For example, retail outlets and manufacturers can work together to monitor demand trends, identify the best performing items and have shipments arrive just as the existing shelf stock is depleted. Also, manufacturers can work with distributors and suppliers to monitor performance and implement a continued improvement process (CIP) motivating them to improve execution.
  3. Connected everywhere, all the time.With the proliferation of mobile devices and cloud computing, especially in Asia Pacific where businesses are able to leapfrog technologies, we have access to information on the go. We are entering a period of time where many processes will become automated, and the role of a supply chain manager would move from overseeing day to day execution to planning and transformation based on advanced analytics. Even monitoring the supply chain would become automated with orders for new stock automatically being sent out to the relevant suppliers.

Conclusion

Supply chains are increasingly becoming recognised as a key differentiator between companies, to the extent that when a company reports supply chain problems, it impacts their stock price negatively. Organizations in Asia Pacific need to understand how technology can impact your supply chain and how you can use information and intelligence to make adjustments and improvements. We are faced with an information overload day in and day out, yet we are able to decipher what is most important for us. It is time businesses operating in Asia Pacific to do the same, process data gained from visibility and develop true business intelligence to get the best out of your supply chains.