We need a new class of supply chain systems that recognize inventory is an asset across global demand and supply networks, regardless of who owns it at any given step in the process. Systems that “right-size” network-wide inventory, not just the piece I own at a certain time. And systems that provide network-wide visibility so we can truly balance demand with supply.
This starts with understanding real demand at the store shelf through demand-sensing capabilities that forecast demand from the item within store level all the way up through distribution and production to the raw materials required. One forecast to get everyone working from the same playbook, eliminating the bullwhip effect of forecast error.
Then you need execution systems that manage the flow of goods and information from the original source all the way through to the customer, or even your customer’s customer. These multi-party systems should not only provide end-to-end visibility and control, so you know what is in production, what is in-transit, what is in the DC and what is on the store shelf, but also alert you to the inevitable events that disrupt supply chain flow and help you to react in a timely matter. These systems would thus manage inventory as a network asset, from supplier to the store shelf, making you and your network partners more efficient, competitive and profitable.