Business Process & Information Technology: Supply Chain Management

The advent of Information Technology, internet and World Wide Web has brought down an era in which computer based technologies have minor or major role on almost all aspects of society, business and industry. The competitive environment of business and corporations has seen the most drastic changes like ecommerce, online marketing etc. Another most important area which is now waiting for some revolutionary changes is that of traditional supply chain management. Though there are many IT packages for management of Supply Chain activities, this paper focuses on characteristics of IT based grid technology to develop electronic supply chain that is more effective and how the same could provide able support in providing solutions and reliable input to corporation management in e-commerce (Baker, Buyya, & Laforenza, 2002).

The biggest achievement of networked world powered with internet is that of virtualization of world economy. Supply Chain Management is another sector which has been breached by the e-commerce business methodology defying all traditional environments and adding extra strength to core competencies of enterprise in extremely competitive business environment through partner’s advantage. In the new scenario, the enterprise’s operation is accelerated through integrating e-commerce and supply chain management (Baker, Buyya, & Laforenza, 2002).

Supply Chain in its traditional form is more of a linear array structure depending heavily on trade transactions. In almost all purchase related matters, the end customer or the person/organization at the buyer’s zone is quite far from most of the suppliers. Selection processes require a number of steps and similar steps are followed again and again so that a better bargain could be achieved. But the actual is that of time involved in the complete flow. It may take a few days, few weeks or even months to complete the process flow of whole supply chain. The redundancy of procedures in process flow makes it error prone and hence sometimes involves a number of omissions and changes. But when the supply chain process flow is structured over a network, almost all participating suppliers are in direct communion with the terminal customers simultaneously. Supply chain in this new environment functions with better synergy and efficiency (Baker, Buyya, & Laforenza, 2002).

IT based Grid technology powered supply chain relies on network boosted through World Wide Web, internet and intranet. It acts guide to the management in synchronized, integrated product planning so that the management could focus on the implementation of all important modules like procurement, manufacturing, quality control, logistics, marketing, etc. so that higher degree of customer service and satisfaction as well as lower cost of transaction. Reaction time in responding to customer need also takes a beating and hence makes for more flexible and convenient business scenario. The functioning methodology gets changed from “push” to “pull” and operation model is immune to Bullwhip Effect. Market based on network is now a self growing structure and expands constantly into seamless connection (Subramaniam, 2004).

Integrating grid technology, communication between the enterprises with the suppliers for developing the core of supply chain during upstream movement of business process and customers during downstream movement in the supply chain would be seamless and smooth. The e-commerce information technology when powered with grid technology, transforms the World Wide Web into a smooth information system with capability to realize highly efficient and wholesome supply chain management through seamless real-time information sharing channels. For this, the Company would require implementation of a common infrastructure for supporting Enterprise Application Integration and B2B. The new system architecture will have space for both new technology and old tradition. It will actually integrate itself into the existing applications present both inside and outside the Organization. This collaboration has been for the purpose of developing next level of a Web services development and runtime capability. The whole new architecture will cater common services for security and Web service management. The shortcomings present in traditional point to point cross application data exchange interface strategies and tightly coupled application integration have been rectified and has evolved to enterprise-wide real time system (Subramaniam, 2004).

The e-commerce based solution offered through grid technology can make it possible for the enterprise to offer security and flexibility across the entire enterprise while integrating the latest technology with company’s existing technology infrastructure. The eroom professionals under the supervision of Supply Chain Mangers have would develop self service ASP model to the internal customers and the extended enterprise teams. Grid technology would actually help the organization in deploying collaborative applications for improving the quality of its product and finally can maximize the operational efficiencies and managing the cost effectively. Essential activities like sharing and collaboration on product documents and project history management and conflict resolution would be possible just on click of mouse. Some of the basic features associated with this technology are cost saving, time saving, reduced IT costs and finally reduced Co-location costs. The increased data sharing and process data flow integration and speed of accessing documents saves several Man-hours. The Co-location costs are greatly reduced with reduction in travel costs and less need of relocation cost (Subramaniam, 2004).

References

Baker, M., Buyya, R. & Laforenza, D. (2002) Grids and Grid technologies for wide-area distributed computing. SOFTWARE—PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE

Softw. Pract. Exper. 2002; (in press) John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Web.

Subramaniam, N. (2004) Grid Computing: An Overview. ISRC Future Technology Topic Brief Bauer College of Business Administration, University of Houston, Texas. Web.

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