Demand Chain Management and Supply Chain Control Towers

By Vancheeswar Balakrishnan, November 18, 2021

Football training to music lessons to swimming—finish work and then, run around fulfilling these—“we need another car,” I said, driving my better half into a tizzy (Pro tip: Leave alone a super computer running complex scheduling algorithms).

Got onto the Internet looking for a used car—enormous amount of information, choices and offers. Cue a sigh and those concentric rings take me to days of the past. I remember the day we got our first scooter—we had to pay a deposit, wait for the official six months and innumerable ‘snail mail’ communications later…lo and behold, the steed arrived nine months after!

What has changed that has made the customer demanding? Choice and information—both in a way are key elements of the new digital universe we’re now in.

Traditionally, we would test drive a few cars (which in itself will be a big family gala as much as going to the cinema or a picnic). But now, a few clicks, a digital payment, and the job is done.

Many traditional purchases have gone online. Many things that always had a tactile element to them have gone virtual. Musical instruments, for instance, have moved from a very tactile to a virtual buy today. How did this come about? Simple. Information, information and more information. Not only are the customers more informed, the suppliers are also fed back the same information.

Demand creation is now digital, and this channel is creating the supply chain to invert itself into a demand chain. The shift from a push to a pull.

Supply chains have inverted into demand chains

The supply chain has inverted from what used to be supplier to customer fulfillment—rather it is now customer demand to supplier requirements to fulfil. This is fuelling innovation in product design, pricing and value additions.

The surprise is—you now start seeing marketing departments latching onto this shift in supply chains. Traditionally, it was efficiency that was driving (the driving idiom seems to be a recurring theme) supply chains—cost conscious and upstream to downstream. Supply chain organisations having efficiency as their mantra were inward-looking, and the information stayed on the shop floor.

In today’s knowledge-rich customer world, data needs to be shared across the enterprise, and this data knows no boundaries or silos. Customer-oriented organisations now need visibility across streams that were never traditionally part of the functional grouping, like in this case, marketing.

The All-Intelligent Supply Chain Control Towers

The days of the traditional supply chain optimizers are no longer fit for purpose. They are now just another cog into a larger entity, which is now called, the Supply Chain Control Towers. And they do everything—from feeding data across the enterprise to bringing new-age media and channels to play to delivering value to the customer!

Modern control towers up the game by several notches. They provide real-time and end-to-end visibility, capture data from start-to-finish and require least-to-no-manual intervention. They are automated, agile and smarter than their legacy ancestors. They centralize information, analyze and understand patterns, predict timelines and events and make decision-making informed and data-driven. They are intelligent and powerful in their capacity to assimilate all information and deliver 360-degree visibility and insights.

Going back to the car analogy, in the case of control towers, it’s like you have all information on all existing models under a single window. With everything out in the open, you catch the pitfalls beforehand. You know the purchase process, the wait time and the cons of a particular model way before they start showing up. You sense the engine sputter or the brakes squeak and schedule maintenance right in time.

You almost gain an omniscience that allows you to stop disruptions in the tracks. Above all, you save time, resources and in the process, optimize your performance too.

The control tower is indeed the nerve centre that cuts through and across all your operations. It can mitigate risk and manage disruptions effectively and at the same time, enhance productivity. With supply chains inverting into demand chains, advanced and modern supply chain towers are critical game-changers in today’s complex ecosystems. They transform data silos and legacy systems into integrated, resilient and real-time management platforms.

FuelTrans, Bahwan CyberTek’s integrated secondary supply chain management and control tower solution, enables oil marketing companies to automate, manage and optimize their retail fuel network and fleet management value chains.

Vancheeswar Balakrishnan

Vancheeswar Balakrishnan (aka Vanchy) is a Chartered Accountant and Project Management Professional (PMP) with 23+ years of experience in Digital Transformation, Change Management, Product Development & Design, and Consulting. He aspires to create solutions that rival Google in its ability to disrupt technology and the way it is viewed. When he is not dreaming he is the Digital Transformation Lead for the Digital Supply Chain Management Practice . He is driven to building IoT and analytics driven applications in Logistics and Supply Chain and enabling enterprises to leverage technology to improve. He also bores everyone with his attempts at deductive reasoning and no prizes for guessing if you do say Sherlock Holmes is his idol.

From the man himself: "I’m partial to sporting and musical metaphors—considering that on a personal level these are my two passions. To add to that, I’m a qualified football coach working with grassroots community football and I’m driven by using football as a vehicle of social ascent, especially for the underprivileged children. I flatter myself on my guitar playing, composing and singing skills (Disclaimer: People who have had heard me do all these may beg to differ and in some cases, vehemently)."