The Role of Software Solutions in Agricultural Supply Chain
The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has put a whole new light on commodity management, especially agriculture supply chains. Food is essential for survival, so ensuring agriculture supply chains remain secure has taken center-stage. The agriculture industry is resilient and continues to maintain supply-to-shelf, but there are significant risks to the conventional mechanisms of food production and supply.
As business leaders respond on multiple fronts simultaneously to protect workers’ safety while safeguarding operational viability, they must invest in digital transformation to secure long-term success.
Here’s what agriculture leaders can do to reshape and redirect the course of their companies for a collaborative agriculture supply chain at large.
There has been one overwhelmingly consistent theme from the COVID-19 crisis—most leaders weren’t ready. Organizations quickly realized they lacked transparency into the potential impact to their supply chains from a global event like this. Conventional agriculture supply chains were not built to factor in disruption at scale. This has been tested as global lockdowns, labor shortages and logistical snags have wreaked havoc in supply chains.
As agriculture companies continue to rely on manual processes and siloed systems, visibility remains a challenge. This inability to view the entire business in real time makes it difficult for businesses to get an in-depth understanding of their vulnerabilities, strengths and compliance issues. Without real-time insight, agriculture companies cannot pivot quickly with market shifts or supply chain disruptions.
But, times are changing.
Supply chains built on a foundation of cloud, mobile, connected data and advanced analytics will enable businesses to benefit from deep insights at a speed that can never be achieved using traditional or manual processes. So, build a digital nerve center for enhanced transparency.
The supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 were further amplified by the lack of digital connection between companies, their suppliers and their customers. Lack of digital connectivity has pushed many small suppliers to the verge of bankruptcy. And yet, there have been instances where direct farm-to-consumer marketplaces have thrived on the backbone of digital transformation. Clearly, new business models are emerging.
Sophisticated collaboration tools that provide end-to-end collaboration – from farmers to customers – enables all parties to have a single, shared view of data in near real time. This shared visibility improves both the cost and latency of information sharing, ultimately improving overall supply chain performance and inter-company interactions.
These tools enable participants to benefit from instant communication with trading partners. They can negotiate in real time and work through contracts and pricing instantly instead of waiting hours or days for return phone calls or emails.
Digital collaboration helps producers and aggregators manage supply and demand while tracking and authenticating sources, certifications, expiry dates and food standards, taking considerable pressure off traditional supply chains.
The future of commodity management
The importance of digitization for commodity management has been vividly highlighted with the Coronavirus outbreak. Governments and businesses need to look at the pandemic as a unique opportunity to identify vulnerabilities in logistics and production chains and prioritize digital transformation to build a resilient 21st century food system.
The cloud offers a good option to hasten digital transformation initiatives because of its extensibility. The provision of microservices on a native cloud platform provides a way to quickly adapt to unique and complex supply chain operations and respond faster to disruptions as they occur.