Children of the Revolution: Industry 4.0 Supply Chain Ecosystems

Written by Tecwyn Hill | 4 min read
Published on: September 15th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
supply chain ecosystems cassette

In the first post of this series, we looked past the Industry 4.0 “Wonderwall” towards the oasis of business success. In this final article, we focus on the revolutionary shift to digital Supply Chain Ecosystems which are connected, smart, and highly efficient. Whether Industry 4.0 is your transformation ‘oasis’, a strategy to ‘blur’ physical and digital technologies, or a way to ‘pulp’ the competition; the digital ‘T. Rex’ is fast approaching, and should be music to your ears.

“Bang a Gong (Get it On)”

Why Supply Chain Ecosystems?

As the digital-change tsunami continues to crash around us, a new trend of automation and data exchange is flooding across manufacturing technologies, promising even deeper and more significant transformation. Known as the Smart Factory, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 includes the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, cyber-physical systems, and cognitive computing.

However, as was discussed in the first post of this series, Don’t Look Back in Anger: Reaching the Oasis of Industry 4.0 Success, if the vision of massive digital change and high-tech strategy is to be realized, an essential element will be the revolution of traditional linear supply chains toward encompassing Supply Chain Ecosystems.

*Visit our dedicated manufacturing and Industry 4.0 page, here.

Supply Chain Ecosystems will dissolve modern business barriers

These high-tech, data-driven ecosystems will break down silos to develop and integrate a broad network of customers and suppliers. This means all product/process steps are transparent and collaborative for the players involved, from the suppliers of raw materials for the production line to quality control, freight shipping, and distributors for customer delivery.

This infinite loop is a Supply Chain Ecosystem circle of life, with supply and demand growing in tandem, developing and learning together. The potential for next-level Industry 4.0 success is there, but so is the possibility of fading out. To ensure achievement, businesses will likely place an even stronger emphasis on brand awareness and customer ratings/reviews, as social media and mobile platforms further integrate and become more intuitive.

Therefore, customer-centric organizations will be better balanced to surf these turbulent waters because their value-chains are directed away from the product in isolation, and instead towards the customer.

“Girls & Boys”

... Supply Chain Ecosystems are a competitive advantage

The digital overview offered by Supply Chain Ecosystems will also enable companies to react to disruptions, and even anticipate them, by fully modeling the ecosystem network, strategizing what-if scenarios, and adjusting the supply chain in real-time as conditions change. Put simply, the goal of digital Supply Chain Ecosystems is ambitious: to build a new kind of supply network that’s both resilient and responsive.

Once enabled, the network will empower companies that get there first to beat the competition. After all, the circle of life is also about the survival of the fittest, and Supply Chain Ecosystems will stabilize the weakest processes by leveraging global capabilities and overviews.

In essence, we’re all children of this life-cycle revolution because we will individually feed the Supply Chain Ecosystem for the innovative rewards promised by Industry 4.0.

“Country House”

Get your house in order and succeed with Supply Chain Ecosystems

Companies looking to make digital Supply Chain Ecosystems a reality will need to reach past current technologies and build new company-wide capabilities. This not only means finding people with the right skills and digitally transforming entire organizations, but enabling management teams to monitor and influence cultural swings, carry the burden of effort, and embrace new critical ideas. These ideas might include integrated planning and execution systems, logistics visibility, autonomous logistics, and smart procurement and warehousing.

While it may be stating the obvious, achieving smarter Supply Chain Ecosystems is a difficult task, and successful implementation requires a clear strategy that responds to opportunities within the company environment. Business chiefs must look look past current processes and models to future-state possibilities and concepts. Only then can a digital success strategy be initiated.

“Common People”

Reach beyond the common every day to implement Supply Chain Ecosystems

Your digital success strategy should consider:

  • Processes: Establishing new end-to-end digitization processes to connect suppliers and customers via cloud-based collaboration.
  • Skills and organization: Generating end-to-end mechanics across the value chain so firefighting single problems is replaced by orchestrating, seeing, managing, and optimizing the entire chain. This requires an open, fast-learning digital culture that promotes communication across varying media, programs, and user groups.
  • Performance management: Developing a set of straightforward business rules to cover administration of the Supply Chain Ecosystem, and the key performance indicators needed to measure new outcomes.
  • Collaboration: Focusing on partnering/collaborating with other companies, because a fully integrated Supply Chain Ecosystem will fail without a variety of suppliers, distributors, and technology providers.
  • Technology: Devise a road map for the many old and new technologies that will underpin the supply chain, including information integration, database and analytics capabilities, and the cloud.


BPM is the razzle-dazzle behind Industry 4.0 success and Supply Chain Ecosystems

As mentioned in part one of this blog series, Business Process Management (BPM) is the backbone of Industry 4.0 flexibility. It relieves bottlenecks in operations, sales and orders, and product life cycles, and aligns business strategies with innovative business models and end-to-end service processes.

But further, Industry 4.0 requires companies to keep track of their operational models or risk losing their edge on multiple levels, including market competition and customer relations. At its core, BPM redefines this enterprise collaboration for organizational change, harnessing employee knowledge to give a more granular-level view of processes. This allows manufacturing entities to reimagine, optimize, and reinvent themselves from an operational perspective.

This vital crowd knowledge and particle-level data is the nucleus of Industry 4.0 success and Supply Chain Ecosystem achievement. It reveals the heart of a company and its operational inner workings. Progress and change can be maintained, understood, and most importantly, reflected upon.

“Disco 2000”

Delivering the millennial promise of Industry 4.0 Supply Chain Ecosystems

Industry 4.0 is the most significant dinosaur killer to strike the manufacturing sector, and its offspring strategies like Supply Chain Ecosystems are the new industry T. Rex, ready to take down the less enabled firms, too. But this is one cosmic event we see coming and can harness. We are living during an industrial revolution that strives to reach beyond the technological limitations of the early millennium.

For too long, supply chains have run as tightly linked, contractually restricted entities, but as the ecosystems develop, we will see the rise of more fluid processes, wholly new revenue models, and distinct network effects.

In fact, Industry 4.0 promises wholesale change, and be this your transformation oasis or business “Champagne Supernova”, as long as you keep pace with the revolution, you’ll find the ‘verve’ you need to succeed.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony”

The Suite taste of Industry 4.0 success with Signavio

Discover how the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite can revolutionize your processes and greet the new dawn of Industry 4.0 success, including Supply Chain Ecosystems. Try it for yourself by registering now for a free 30-day trial.

Published on: September 15th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020