July 31, 2019
By James D’Arezzo
Supply chains operating with high-performing IT systems can make companies more competitive, leading to increases in sales volume, profits, satisfied customers and process efficiencies.
An effective supply chain hinges on real-time, accurate data. Customers expect seamless and fast delivery, with constant updates along the way. As more manufacturers implement data-intensive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), IT system performance becomes even more critical.
Many factors can impact the supply chain, including natural disasters, inclement weather, transportation equipment failure, theft, regulatory changes and more. Because they are interconnected, the failure of one supply chain to react to any one of these factors has a ripple effect.
Gartner recently named the top supply chain trends as AI, advanced analytics, IoT, robotics and blockchain, among others. All of these are data intensive, hinging on the performance of IT systems.
The Resilience360 Annual Risk Report 2018 cited trade flow, cyber security incidents and climate change paired with extreme weather conditions as the most serious risks to global supply chains.
These are of course very serious concerns, but degraded IT system performance is just as much of a threat. Overburdened IT systems negatively impact the processing, analytics and transmission of data that is essential to a successful supply chain.
Along with equipment and facilities, IT systems make up a key part of a manufacturer’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t realize the importance of IT system performance until it’s too late.
Causes of Performance Degradation
IT system performance is highly dependent on its input-output (I/O) throughput, which degrades over time no matter the underlying hardware infrastructure. This is especially true in the Windows environment, where an MS-SQL database application might be operating at as little as 50 percent of its optimum I/O speed. Since about 80 percent of IT systems around the world use Windows, this is a common problem.
Global supply chain complexity and the need for instant access to rapidly changing data make it imperative that IT managers constantly maximize throughput.
IT systems are increasingly overburdened because of the evolving global supply chain environment made up of interconnected global companies operating in a tumultuous political and economic environment, along with unprecedented weather extremes.
While the interconnected ecosystem can increase speed and responsiveness, it requires up-to-the-minute information that can be accessed and shared immediately.
Transparency and collaboration between companies and suppliers are essential to a successful supply chain.
A recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), What’s Now and Next for Finance and Procurement, is based on a survey of more than 400 finance and procurement executives in the U.S. and central Europe.
The report states that the visibility of data is essential to preventing supply chain disruption in a shifting world economy that is making the supply chain even more complex.
The EIU report found that 37 percent of respondents are either in the process of developing alternative supply chains or already developing supply chains with multiple suppliers in different locations, using different delivery routes.
This means more data and complexity, making the supply chain’s IT system even more important.
Fortunately, tools exist that can maximize throughput at the system software level, which is where problems originate in the first place.
I/O performance degradation is purely a software issue. While adding hardware can temporarily mask the problem, it cannot solve it.
Targeted performance enhancement software solutions, at minimal cost and running in the background, can improve total system throughput by 30 to 50 percent or more with no additional investment in hardware.
Even many logistics IT professionals aren’t aware of these cost-effective software solutions, which should be a key part of their toolkit.
About the Author:
James D’Arezzo is CEO of Condusiv Technologies, a global provider of software-only storage performance solutions for virtual and physical server environments.