A company’s supply chain represents many activities, business units, or partners that help a company move its products to the final selling point. Supply chain business intelligence is the inclusion of traditional finance or technology techniques to gather and disseminate information. Companies use this information to improve their supply and decrease costs. These changes must not sacrifice the quality of service a company delivers to customers. Many companies use supply chain business intelligence to gather and store data in servers and measure the return on investment for this business process.
Large organizations and manufacturing businesses often are heavy users of supply chains. Supply chains often include multiple activities, such as purchasing, production, and distribution. Rather than complete all these activities on their own, a company can create a supply chain that includes different organizations or individuals to complete the tasks. Technology adds business intelligence to the mix so companies can properly assess business data. The express purpose of supply chain business intelligence is the analysis of financial information on each supply chain piece in hopes of maximizing financial returns.
Technology often plays a heavy role in business intelligence. Rather than spending copious time using manual techniques to gather data, computers allow for the real-time collection of various business data. Supply chain business intelligence can use an enterprise resource planning system (ERP). ERPs are large software and hardware systems that integrate multiple data locations and dump information into a central source. From here, a company extracts reports and usable information to assess supply chain performance efficiency and profitability.
Supply chains are often in the background of a company’s operations. While owners and managers know the system exists, it is not always visible or under review. Supply chain business intelligence techniques bring the entire supply chain into a more visible environment. Assessing costs related to the system can be easier with technology and provide more insight into individual business processes. This business activity is becoming more important as companies look to advance operations to gain a competitive edge without increasing costs.
The Internet is one piece of technology that greatly increases a company’s ability to assess its supply chain business intelligence. Technology systems often use intranets or other Internet-based tools that gather information from multiple geographic locations. This allows a company to leverage lower costs associated with specific areas, creating lower overall operating costs. Internet-based systems allow for information gathering from a single location. Using an ERP allows for a company to avoid multiple technology systems and creating an unsustainable supply chain review process.