Supply Chain Management, Technology , Big DataLori Harner, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, E2open, 866-432-6736Q: What is a control tower?A: There are many definitions of a control tower in the market today. Some are analytics overlays without a network to get data or application intelligence. Some provide one functional area (e.g. planning) and encompass internal operations and maybe tier 1 providers. These can sound helpful but won't get you very far.Agility and resiliency don't call for a new piece of software named a "control tower." It should be part of the platform that runs your end-to-end operations and processes, powered by real-time data from a multi-tier network, allowing internal and external parties to understand exceptions, collaborate on the best decisions, monitor performance, and learn for next time. Q: When evaluating control tower vendors, what should companies consider? A: Look for a vendor that can deliver on four crucial fundamentals: 1) A multi-enterprise network at the core that can pull data from any tier, function, or ecosystem and use that data within all applications. 2) Decision-grade data that can be immediately used across all applications. 3) End-to-end applications with intrinsic field-proven AI. 4) Collaboration, which enables connection and communication with internal and external partners across multiple tiers and ecosystems.Q: What types of businesses are best suited to optimizing control towers?A: Control tower capabilities help companies make better supply chain decisions across all industries. The larger the business, the more extended their supply chains, the more diverse their partner network, the more regulated the industry or products, the shorter their planning timeframes—all these factors come into play when evaluating control tower capabilities.In short, any business that experiences supply chain disruption and wants fast, accurate, and predictive resolutions to benefit all parties, functions and ecosystems.Q: What problematic parts of the supply chain can a control tower smooth out?A: Two problematic areas are gaining E2E visibility from downstream, upstream, and logistics ecosystem partners; and using this data to make decisions and orchestrate E2E processes across all parties. While control tower initiatives often start in one functional like planning, logistics execution or procurement, the key is the ability to connect any and all supply chain processs, not just one area or ecosystem. This holistic approach is what helps you become more agile and resilient—and future proof for sustainable value.Q: Can control towers help manage disruption and/or sudden demand increases?A: Absolutely! Having an operating platform brings together all the data you need to see what's happening, combined with all the applications, artificial intelligence, and analytics necessary to understand what disruptions mean to the business, recommend the best course of action, put decisions into effect, and learn for next time.
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