Digital redefines supply chain: Big change and big opportunity

By Paula Doe, SEMI

With many disruptive changes occurring in the electronics supply chain, the one with the biggest impact may come from smart manufacturing and the emergence of the digital supply chain.

“The digital supply chain is the next breakthrough opportunity for the industry,” says John Kern, Cisco Systems SVP, Supply Chain, who will give the opening keynote at SEMICON West 2016 (July 12-14) at Moscone Center in San Francisco. “It’s the biggest area of investment for us now because it’s where we see the most potential.” The ability to leverage data, cloud, collaboration and mobility are making it possible to eliminate, simplify and automate processes, orchestrate activities across the supply chain in real time, and empower the workforce to focus on higher value work.

Cisco began its own journey to a digital supply chain with an update of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.It targeted several use cases to improve processes, such as using data to manage energy consumption within a factory to drive productivity and improve sustainability. Another was automating test processes to improve quality and reduce capital costs. But now Cisco has moved on to a broader view, of automating systems so employees don’t have to spend time gathering the information, but instead can focus on analyzing the information presented to them. “That will be the big game changer,” Kern contends.

Another example is the Cisco Supplier Collaboration Platform, which allows suppliers to see directly into their supply chain data so they can fix issues that arise, such as over or under supply directly ─ without all the usual escalations, email exchanges and delays. “There’s one single source of truth for ‘supply and demand’ that everyone can see, minimizing ‘the bull whip’ effect and enabling real-time response,” he notes.

This Supply Chain digitization is happening in concert with a disruption in business models all across the sector, as users shift from buying physical assets to buying outcomes, and paying as they receive the benefits. “The impact of the cloud and the service model is changing the way we think about supply chains,” say Kern. “We need to be able to offer any options our customers want, whether it’s hardware, software or solutions, and in any way they want to consume. Our supply chain has to adapt rapidly to enable these multiple business models.” Kern will elaborate on the topic at SEMICON West on July 12 as part of the executive events. SEMICON West also will be presenting eight business and technology forums. To register for SEMICON West 2016, visit www.semiconwest.org. For a limited time, register for only $100 (includes admission to keynotes, TechXPOTs, Silicon Innovation Forum, World of IoT Theater, 700 exhibits, and Intersolar).

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