From insight to action: A savvy leader’s guide to building an intelligent supply chain

April 2, 2024

The increasing complexity of supply chains and challenges in global distribution have compelled companies to modernize their supply chain management for effective demand forecasting and planning. Traditionally, supply chains were designed with the assumption that materials are readily available, enabling sourcing, production, and distribution at the lowest-cost locations worldwide. However, the landscape has evolved.

In this new era, leaders must shift their focus to prioritize customer needs, reimagining supply chains to operate seamlessly in volatile environments, such as pandemics, natural disasters, cyberattacks, or human errors. Achieving this requires reexamining key principles, physical networks, and strategic partnerships, all while emphasizing sustainability at the shareholder, employee, and customer levels.

Developing smarter and more resilient global supply chains necessitates a shift towards intelligent workflows. This entails leveraging AI, ML, IoT, and blockchain technologies to predict demand and supply requirements while accurately automating critical workflows.

Gartner says that 50% of large global companies have adopted AI, advanced analytics, and IoT in supply chain operations for significant revenue increases and cost savings (high benefit). Another study reports that businesses with optimized supply chains have 15% lower supply chain costs, less than 50% of inventory holdings, and 3X faster cash-to-cash cycles.

The challenge lies in how supply chain leaders can strike the right balance between addressing immediate requirements and establishing an intelligent supply chain system. This blog provides all the insights needed to enhance quality, improve efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction throughout the supply chain.

A turning point in the evolution of supply chain management

The introduction of ERP systems revolutionized supply chain management, offering businesses a centralized platform to oversee operations and navigate market complexities. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management enhances this capability by fostering agility and connectivity within the supply chain. It provides capabilities for managing the processes from end to end, from product information management, planning, inventory, sales, and procurement to complex manufacturing, warehousing, asset maintenance, and transport management. Equipped with AI and IoT functionalities, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management streamlines planning, production, and inventory management, enabling smarter operations. Additionally, its advanced Power BI analytics provide real-time insights for informed decision-making. With Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, businesses can:

  • Achieve comprehensive visibility across supply chain operations.
  • Optimize operational efficiency and enhance profit margins throughout the supply chain.
  • Enhance product availability and drive revenue growth.

What makes an intelligent supply chain management?

The concept of an intelligent supply chain revolves around integrating digital technologies like IoT, AI, and advanced analytics to achieve smarter management. This modern approach leverages cutting-edge tools like predictive analytics and big data to optimize various aspects of the supply chain – all while minimizing costs.

While traditional supply chain was imperfect and manual, intelligent supply chain management provides high-level business-wide benefits, such as:

AI-driven analytics for intelligent decision-making

Businesses often struggle with siloed data that hinder their supply chain’s performance. Siloed data creates blind spots, making tracking inventory levels, managing fulfillment, and optimizing employee productivity difficult. However, an intelligent supply chain leverages real-time analytics to monitor the business’s distribution process.

This eliminates guesswork by offering actionable insights that constantly adapt to the flow of your operations. With even minor improvements driven by these insights, your business can significantly enhance the efficiency and profitability of its entire supply chain.

Real-time supply chain visibility

Seasonal demands or evolving customer expectations can lead to unpredictable fluctuations in inventory levels. Even minor shifts in the market can result in a sudden increase in demand, potentially leaving your business scrambling if it lacks an intelligent supply chain. Without real-time visibility, there’s a risk of overstocking or missing out on sales opportunities due to inadequate stock.

Effectively managing orders and shipments necessitates real-time visibility into inventory levels. Supply Chain Inventory Visibility (SCIV) applications have been developed precisely for this purpose, offering comprehensive monitoring capabilities across the entire supply chain. By leveraging SCIV tools, companies can stay informed about global inventory status while having a backup plan for unforeseen disruptions.

Optimized production planning

A comprehensive understanding of your supply chain, encompassing all aspects, is essential for effective production planning. An intelligent supply chain facilitates precise resource allocation, product mix determination, employee scheduling, and real-time assessment of production capacity. This agility ensures that your production plan remains aligned with current supply chain metrics and can be adjusted as necessary.

By leveraging actionable insights from an ERP solution and interconnected cloud-based systems, companies can achieve enhanced efficiency, improved accuracy, higher product quality, and reduced costs and waste.

AI and ML for supply chain efficiency

As recognized by industry experts, AI and Machine Learning play a crucial role in supply chain management. A study revealed that more than two-thirds of surveyed leaders considered advanced supply chain analytics essential for the future.

Machine Learning offers significant advantages to supply chain logistics by efficiently handling large volumes of data and facilitating informed decision-making. The capability to accurately predict future supply chain demands is particularly noteworthy, leading to benefits such as lower freight costs, improved supplier delivery, and reduced supplier risk. Furthermore, AI enhances the efficiency of raw material management and production processes.

Faster order fulfillment

In an era where customers demand swift delivery and impeccable product quality, the efficiency of an automated supply chain is paramount. Suppliers require predictive insights spanning production, inventory, shipping, and profitability to guarantee timely deliveries, product availability, and customer satisfaction. The capability for consistent order fulfillment in an intelligent supply chain enables shippers to meet the demands of consumer preferences for 24/7 access to products and services.

Harnessing modern ERP for competitive advantage

A contemporary ERP supply chain system empowers employees to make informed decisions with real-time data and predictive insights, promising a higher return on investment. However, research from the Aberdeen Group reveals that only 20 percent of companies have achieved complete end-to-end visibility of their supply chains. This gap presents a significant opportunity for businesses to gain a competitive edge.

By implementing a modern supply chain ERP, businesses can achieve transparency across equipment, inventory, and production processes. This provides employees with intelligent information for faster decision-making and smoother disruption handling, ultimately enabling companies to outperform competitors.

It all starts with building a customer-centric intelligent supply chain

According to Gartner, 83% of companies recognize the impact of the supply chain on customer experience and consider it part of their organization’s digital strategy. Owing to this, companies are shifting towards a customer-centric supply chain to meet customer needs.

A recent study by McKinsey discovered that the typical level of digitization in supply chains is currently 43%. McKinsey’s findings suggest that companies that actively pursue digitization in their supply chains can expect a substantial increase in their annual growth of earnings before interest and taxes, with an average boost of 3.2%.

However, if your business aims to create a seamless and responsive supply chain that revolves around meeting and exceeding customer expectations, the following are some of the key features of a customer-centric supply chain for your reference:

  • Real-time visibility: Provides visibility into inventory levels, order status, and shipment tracking in real-time, allowing for better decision-making and responsiveness to customer needs.
  • Predictive analytics: Utilizes advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to forecast customer demand accurately, enabling proactive planning and inventory management.
  • Personalization capabilities: Offers the ability to tailor services, products, and interactions to individual customer preferences and behaviors, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Seamless integration: Integrates seamlessly with customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other customer-facing applications to ensure a cohesive customer experience across all touchpoints.
  • Collaborative networks: Facilitates collaboration and communication with partners, suppliers, and stakeholders in the supply chain ecosystem to align efforts and resources toward meeting customer needs.
  • Continuous improvement: Emphasizes continuous improvement and optimization of supply chain processes through data-driven insights and feedback loops, allowing for ongoing enhancements to customer satisfaction and business performance.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management: A modern solution for your supply chain

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a powerful solution designed to optimize supply chain operations. It offers a comprehensive suite of features for planning, forecasting, inventory management, and more. Dynamics 365 SCM empowers businesses with scalability, flexibility, and advanced intelligence to meet the demands of today’s complex supply chains.

Its modular architecture and seamless integration capabilities allow you to create a cutting-edge supply chain, seamlessly integrating existing systems and leveraging tools like Microsoft Office 365 and hardware like HoloLens. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management:

Promotes smarter business processes

Since Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain includes built-in Power BI and artificial intelligence features, it provides 360-degree analytics for the entire organization. This empowers businesses to automate routine tasks, freeing teams to focus on strategic initiatives. Additionally, AI-powered insights can help you forecast demand fluctuations and optimize production schedules to meet customer needs more effectively. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can streamline workflows across your entire supply chain, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Maximize supply chain transparency

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain boosts supply chain visibility by providing real-time data and insights across the entire supply chain network. This includes inventory tracking, production monitoring, demand forecasting, and supplier collaboration. By providing this level of visibility, Dynamics 365 for Supply Chain Management helps businesses identify and address potential disruptions early, improve efficiency, and optimize their overall supply chain operations.

Partner with Confiz to build a modern, intelligent and adaptable supply chain

Developing an intelligent supply chain is increasingly crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. As this guide highlights, harnessing advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and IoT elevates supply chain visibility, agility, and efficiency.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management offers robust capabilities, including real-time analytics, predictive insights, and seamless integration with other Microsoft tools like Power BI. These powerful features empower organizations to revolutionize their operations and foster sustainable growth.

As a trusted Microsoft Solutions Partner, we are committed to helping businesses modernize their supply chain operations and acquire the full potential of Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Contact us today at to move toward a smarter, more efficient supply chain to position your organization for long-term success.