Business and consumers alike have been holding their breath in anticipation of a return to “normal” since the beginning of the pandemic. But recent economic data that points to a looming recession suggest we may have to wait a bit longer.
On top of that, we are facing difficulties in global supply chain management due to constrained inventory, which is only compounded by skyrocketing costs in areas like labor, energy, and transport, feeding inflation. In response, organizations are turning away from complex projects like modernization of their software applications. Efforts have shifted instead to supply chain resilience at the local level in order to weather these ongoing crises.
Enterprises looking to modernize their supply chain business processes are finding there are fewer developers willing to fulfill this work than ever before. Though the developer shortage has been documented since before the pandemic, this deficit continues to be aggravated by phenomena like the Great Resignation — and will only worsen if companies are forced to further tighten their hiring budgets in a recession.
Yet organizations can gain notable efficiencies in their supply chains if they are able to complete their digital transformations. Cloud-based and mobile business applications can prove to be recession-busters. They can optimize workflows, streamline business processes, boost productivity, and allow companies to increase the visibility of their data across the entire organization. Once supply chain applications for activities like procurement, goods movement, asset transport, and other crucial tasks are migrated to the cloud, workers can more easily and safely access data from wherever they may be, whether on site or in the field. All this is conducive to better business outcomes overall.
Asset-intensive industries like manufacturing, retail, logistics, automotive, energy, utilities, mining, oil and gas will find it more important than ever to keep their operations and supply chains moving quickly and smoothly, in order to combat the losses they’re experiencing through rising costs and a slowing economy.
The modernization of supply chain business processes in ERP (enterprise resource planning) environments can increase efficiency in areas like warehouse management, asset management, inventory management, and logistics. Such a migration would traditionally require a protracted, expensive, and disruptive overhaul of software applications conducted by highly skilled programmers.
So how can enterprises accomplish complex modernization projects in the face of a looming recession, and during an ongoing developer shortage?
The Benefits of Ready-to-Deploy, Low-Code Supply Chain Applications
Technologies in the category of supply chain logistics continue to evolve, and new solutions are emerging that provide cloud-ready, customizable, low-code business applications to address a range of supply chain functions. Due to their nature as low-code solutions, they require far less integration manpower to implement than traditional modernization techniques. That, in turn, allows companies to economize and accomplish more innovation with fewer resources. This ability to reap the benefits of cloud-based processes even with minimal programming resources will help many large-scale enterprises in the event of a recession.
How do these modernized processes improve on manual systems, or even on digital systems that don’t provide mobility or cloud-based access? Here’s a real-world example: A sizable enterprise in an industrial setting wanted to migrate to a cloud-based inventory management system, since their forklift operators had to manually carry paper charts through a busy (and sometimes physically hazardous) warehouse to input that information at a workstation. The company was able to deploy modernized, cloud-based applications that allowed the forklift operators to scan, view, and revise data through mobile applications without even disembarking from their forklifts. The data was then visible to all other authorized employees on an as-needed basis, through any internet connection.
Similarly, a foods logistics company with distribution across the country wanted to gather granular data on how long their packaged foods stayed frozen during transport, and at what temperatures. A supply chain technology provider proposed phone-based apps that could communicate with sensors on the frozen packages, which would then upload data to drivers’ apps. These apps had the advantage of functioning even when the shipments passed through areas with a lack of connectivity. The data could be reliably relayed to headquarters once drivers entered back into an area with an internet connection. This data could be used to improve quality control and reduce spoilage.
These customized apps were designed through an efficient low-code process, increasing productivity, streamlining workflows, gathering critical information, and/or alleviating safety risks. And such low-code projects can be achieved at a fraction of the expense, time, and disruption to an existing network that a traditional integration would require.
Though the anxiety of an impending recession may have some companies fretting, others see opportunity. Historically, many organizations have taken advantage of recessions as a time to make long-term investments. Challenging times often force administrators to make more prudent decisions. The ability to create supply chain resilience through capable, cost-effective, customized low code solutions can deliver the great advantages of modernization, even in the midst of an uncertain economy.
Originally published by SupplyChainBrain