Make Your Business World Flat for a Stronger Supply Chain

According to New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman, we live in a flat world.

In his timeless book, The World Is Flat, Mr. Friedman spends a great deal of time discussing what he labels “flatteners” – the collective group of technologies that brought our world closer together. From the food we eat, to the way we dress, to the speed and flow of information, these flatteners apply their forces in both our business and personal lives in more ways that we can imagine.

So what does this mean, exactly? Information is the currency of the 21st century – and in business, the agility and speed with which a business can interact with its customers and vendors in a reliable and predictable manner will ultimately dictate its success or failure.

Broken Supply Chain Links Mean Disaster

Having the most innovative products is utterly meaningless if you can’t get them to market in a predictable and cost-efficient way. Combine this notion with the reality of lean inventory requirements and you’re faced with a business environment in which any breakdown or failure in your supply chain links can spell disaster for all but the fewest of the best-capitalized businesses.

To bolster this argument, we need to look no further than today’s most successful retail organizations. Walmart, Target, Home Depot and countless others have maximized their supply chain links for one reason: profit! And while these are the rarified air in the retail world and the paradigm of today’s business model, any successful organization in the year 2011 has established and executed on their “supply chaining” to get there.

You can’t just run lean – it requires deep, well-structured and automated supply chain links. Having direct, cost effective and timely interaction with your vendors can shorten the often-lengthy lead times associated with international trade. Any missteps in execution can cost tens of thousands of dollars, or worse.

Using the Law of Flatteners to Boost Your Business

So, what’s the point? Using technology tools to flatten your business world is essential to achieving success. Having the right products at the right time, allowing you to turn your inventory as fast as possible is a must. Direct vendor input, up-to-date sales analytics and integration of this data to all partners in your supply chain is the only way to go.

I know this to be true, because none of the aforementioned segment leaders would have invested the millions of dollars that were required to effectively link their cash registers, customer buying habits, trend analysis and store shelf inventory to their vendors otherwise. Now that’s a supply chain!

You may not believe in the law of flatteners, or supply chaining and the effect those laws are having on your business. But the forces are indeed at work – either with or against your business.

You don’t have to believe in gravity either, but it too is at work.

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