A New Value Chain Paradigm: Microsoft’s New Supply Chain Platform

This blog post was authored by David Petrucci, Managing Director, Business Process Improvement - Supply Chain on The Technology Insights Blog.

Protiviti was very pleased to announce its exclusive partnership with Microsoft as the launch of the new Microsoft Supply Chain Platform was unveiled. As a platform that integrates the value chain beyond an enterprise’s four walls, the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables collaborations with upstream and downstream partners to deliver transparency and orchestrate the movement of goods to customers. As a single unified platform for supply chains, this new offering bridges the data gap between systems and processes and enables users to direct activity in a virtual, end-to-end environment. It will do nothing less than transform the supply chain paradigm.

Remember the Suez Canal?

In March of 2021, a container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal and stayed stuck for six days, delaying $9 billion in global trade each day. The incident was an extreme example of the large-scale disruption that triggered global transformation across industries. Since then, the pandemic has been followed by global economic instability and geopolitical tensions.

Microsoft is committed to help organisations around the world become more resilient in the face of such disruptions. With their partners, they’re bringing new innovations to market to change the way customers approach transformation. Leaders know that disruptive events will impact their supply chains in time, but until now they’ve lacked the capability to direct an adaptive response across disparate functions.

The fundamental design of supply chains has not changed in the last 30 years. Order management, inventory placement and route planning remain standalone processes. Processes aren’t equipped to adapt when any of the others is disrupted. In fact, for most businesses, the systems supporting these processes aren’t visible to one another.

Businesses still plan months ahead. Meanwhile, business customers have learned from their experiences as consumers to expect whatever they want, shipped the next day. Most companies don’t have much (if any) visibility and transparency beyond their own four walls. With Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform, businesses have an opportunity to develop flexibility and adaptability in their own supply chain processes – and with their trading partners.

End-to-end orchestration

From a systems standpoint, supply chain is more fractured and fragmented than any other business function. Microsoft saw the need to operate disparate supply chain processes and systems from within one overarching environment. Microsoft’s key priority with Supply Chain Platform is end-to-end transparency that enables complex decision-making and action across systems, processes — and trading partners.

  • The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform will:
    • Achieve a harmonised, transparent view across multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) and order management systems.
    • Coordinate actions across warehouse management, transportation management and sales and operations planning systems.
    • Incorporate third-party shipping systems to create a unified value chain view.
    • Integrate data originating from systems built in-house.
  • Microsoft Supply Chain Platform includes an insights engine whose advanced analytics assess market and logistical conditions, evaluate buying patterns, respond to disruption and recommend next-best actions.
  • Microsoft Supply Chain Platform comes with marketplace capabilities. Many businesses develop proprietary supply chain software to meet their own requirements; the platform enables businesses to monetise such systems by offering it to other businesses in the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform ecosphere.

Taken together, the capabilities of Microsoft Supply Chain Platform signal a resetting of the 30-year-old supply chain paradigm. In this new paradigm, trusted data becomes the basis for optimised, routine movement of goods as well as the transparency and adaptability to respond to disruptions and meet customers’ next-day needs.

A customer support specialist is overseeing the movement of goods to customers. An alert comes: the Suez Canal is blocked again. This time, the insight engine in Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform registers the alert, notifies stakeholders and starts evaluating possibilities: “What goods are scheduled to move through the Suez Canal, and how will customers’ orders be affected? What other sources of inventory are available on the other side of the canal?”

Data from systems within and outside the enterprise determine the next-best actions; customer support personnel direct decisions and communication. Orchestration models, established and trained in advance, operate systems and processes in a unified way. Over time, the models only get better at self-correcting.

Achieving value chain harmony

As a managed Microsoft Solutions Partner, Protiviti was selected as an exclusive launch partner for the new Supply Chain Platform released during Microsoft’s Supply Chain Reimagined event. This new solution is expected to change how supply chain leaders think about operating across their value chains. Taken together, these benefits signal a new paradigm for value chains:

  • Bridges data gaps between today’s disconnected supply chain processes and systems.
  • Responds to disruptions in an agile way, enabled by data transparency and delivery of insights.
  • Builds workforce efficiency, enhanced productivity and intelligent automation to reduce cost pressures.
  • Advances supply chain and enterprise sustainability.
  • Provides new capability to execute at the value chain level by transcending the four walls of an enterprise.

Leaders of midsized businesses might imagine such capabilities are only within reach for large enterprises, but they’ll want to think again. Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform will also grant midsize businesses the ability to develop more agile value chains with their own and their partners’ systems.

By working together with Microsoft on the launch of the new platform, Protiviti’s team has already had the opportunity to develop its expertise with the platform’s operations, strengths and benefits. Through our partnership with and deep knowledge of Microsoft, Protiviti is equipped to empower the platform’s capabilities to any organisation’s advantage.

Final thoughts

The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables end-to-end value chain orchestration, trust-based collaboration and data sharing in a single integrated platform. This new offering unifies supply chain systems and processes, so businesses can direct activity in a virtual, end-to-end environment with their trading partners to maximise efficiency and fend off disruption’s impacts.

Protiviti stands ready to help its customers take full advantage of Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform. After 30 years of unchanging supply chain design, this exciting new platform is about to transform the supply chain paradigm.

To learn more about our supply chain innovation and Microsoft consulting solutionscontact us.