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SCM 2012: Start with the Challenges, Then Move to Solutions

by Dave Hannon

March 20, 2012

By Dave Hannon


Today's SCM 2012 special assembly started the way a supply chain organization should -- by identifying the most pressing supply chain challenges. Co-presenter Hans Thalbauer, senior vice president of Line of Business Solutions for Supply Chain and R&D at SAP, spent the first part of the presentation outlining some of the most pressing supply chain challenges. They include:

  • The demand challenge (demand is too often thought of as a "sales" issue, when it should be a supply chain issue)
  • The response challenge (one you understand demand, you need a strategy to respond to that demand)
  • The supply challenge (longer planning runs make real-time supply response difficult)
  • The order fulfillment challenge (companies need to get more efficient and creative in getting their products to customers in today's market)
  • The integrated planning challenge (the strategy has to be continuous, not reactive and include input from all parts of the organization)

Thalbauer then outlined a new supply chain strategy that starts with demand management and includes integrated supply and operations planning as key components. This, not surprisingly, provided a nice segue into SAP's new offering, SAP S&OP on HANA (see Bob Ferrari's piece on it here for some perspective). The presentation highlighted Unilever as a customer using S&OP on HANA.

The key takeaway here: Demand signal management requires the use of unstructured data from various sources and that's where SAP HANA can help.  The session also included customer segments from Italian logistics firm Artoni and Tellabs.

In the second half of the session, Richard Howells, head of supply chain solution marketing at SAP (@howellsrichard), ran a demo of S&OP on HANA and a demo of supply chain analytics at work. (I personally find demos difficult to blog about --you kinda have to see them).

The speakers then devoted some time to the role SAP Rapid Deployment solutions in eliminating disruption in the supply chain (finally, disruption is back to being a negative in the IT world).

And finally, the co-presenters provided some inside scoop on SAP's SCM roadmap to attendees. While the details were limited (and, of course, attendees get the inside scoop first), there was talk of demand signal management and supply chain execution. Attendees I spoke with said the presentation was a good mix of business issues, solutions/demos, and roadmap insight.

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