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Information Systems and the Supply Chain

As the web of suppliers, buyers, transport systems and warehousing facilities grows ever more complex, organizations are relying on information technology to gain competitive advantages and creating demand for data scientists with expertise in supply chain management.

Designing, managing and optimizing business operations on a global scale involves emerging strategies, contracting, risk mitigation, flexible logistics and sustainability.

Information technology connects all those operations and management of that information. Without information systems, according to Global Trade, “it is simply impossible to meet those demands.” So it’s not just a question of savings, but a question of survival in the medium term, according to the resource.

What Is the Role of Information Systems in Supply Chain Management?

Information systems collect, organize, analyze and distribute data that organizations use to manage and optimize operations.

In supply chain applications, businesses leverage them to manage the flow of resources and goods from raw materials suppliers to end-user delivery.

Panorama Consulting Group, an enterprise resource planning contractor, says end-to-end supply chain visibility is critical for all supply-chain stakeholders, including suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, transit and logistics managers and retailers.

“Moving forward, modern SCM technology won’t just make the supply chain more efficient. It’s poised to make the entire enterprise smarter and more innovative than ever before,” according to Panorama.

What Technologies Are Reshaping Supply Chain Management?

Advances in technology and data management and changes in market demands — like how consumers expect free, two-day shipping — make SCM models demand-centric and operational at fast speeds. SCM platforms include the following:

Warehouse management systems (WMS)

These systems control inventory of products at supply chain waypoints. Data-driven WMS enables warehouse management to control labor and storage costs, increase productivity and track materials coming in and going out.

By optimizing warehousing operations, automated WMS benefits suppliers, shippers and customers by reducing risk and increasing reliability.

“As a valuable technological tool, warehouse management systems are designed to enable continuous improvements,” according to Clarkston Consulting.

Transportation management systems (TMS)

These tools are data-driven logistics platforms that enable businesses to develop and deploy strategies for transporting freight and goods. They provide visibility of materials coming in and going out of a company in real time, allowing it to ensure regulatory compliance and on-time delivery and documentation.

Automated WMS information systems support streamlined shipping processes that simplify management and optimization of land, air and sea transit operations, resulting in:

  • Reduced costs for the business and the end customer
  • Fewer manual steps that reduce delays and provide faster delivery
  • Minimized penalties and delays due to import and export compliance violations
  • Improved customer service

“Transportation management systems must become more robust and feature-rich,” according to Oracle, a data infrastructure provider, adding that “machine learning enables TMS to be more intelligent, providing better recommendations and more accurate predictions.”

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

These platforms are the “backbone that facilitates automated sharing of data and documentation across trading networks,” according to Transalis.

By sharing business information — including orders, invoices, payment advice, inventory and sales data and delivery instructions — automated EDI increases efficiencies among supply chain partners, reduces delivery time, costs and errors and accelerates remittances.

“All kinds of business documents, including structured and unstructured data, can be exchanged digitally in a frictionless flow without you or your trading network,” the EDI developer and supplier says.

How Do Data Professionals Prepare for Careers in Supply Chain Information Systems?

Graduates of the Master of Science Management Information Systems offered online by the University of Illinois Springfield have the expertise to design and manage supply chain logistics strategies.

Through electives such as the Supply Chain and Logistics Management course and the MIS Design and Research Methods course, graduates gain theoretical insights and practical knowledge in risk mitigation, sustainability, data collection and analysis and quantitative and qualitative analytics.

Learn more about the University of Illinois Springfield’s online Master of Science Management Information Systems program.

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