Microsoft’s open approach to supply chain data

  • November 28, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Microsoft has introduced a supply chain platform to help organisations increase their supply chain data estate investment with an open approach.

It brings together Microsoft AI, collaboration, low-code, security and SaaS applications in a composable platform.

The company has also announced the preview of its supply chain centre, a ready-made command centre for supply chain visibility and transformation, and part of the platform. The supply chain centre is designed to work natively with an organisation’s supply chain data and applications, with built-in collaboration, supply and demand insights, and order management.

“Businesses are dealing with petabytes of data spread across legacy systems, ERP, supply chain management and point solutions, resulting in a fragmented view of the supply chain,” said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president at Microsoft. “Supply chain agility and resilience are directly tied to how well organisations connect and orchestrate their data across all relevant systems. The Microsoft supply chain platform and supply chain centre enable organisations to make the most of their existing investments to gain insights and act quickly.”

The aim is to make it easier to realise the value of the Microsoft Cloud for the supply chain. The platform provides the building blocks across Azure, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams and Power Platform to develop or independently adopt capabilities for supply chain needs.

With Dataverse, users can create thousands of connectors to gain visibility across supply chains, develop custom workflows with low code in Power Platform, and securely collaborate internally and externally through the power of Teams. With tools and processes that drive positive impact, the platform can help organisations gain deeper insights and reduce the carbon impact of their organisation and supply chain.

With the platform, partners can bring their industry and domain expertise to create integrations leveraging Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams and Power Platform.

Microsoft says it will continue to support its customers with a partner ecosystem including advisors and implementers such as Accenture, Avanade, EY, KPMG, PwC and TCS. It will also continue working with providers such as Blue Yonder, Cosmo Tech, Experlogix, Flintfox, InVia Robotics, K3, O9, SAS, Sonata and To-Increase Softwaree.

At the core of the platform is the supply chain centre, available in preview, which provides a command centre experience for practitioners to harmonise data from across existing infrastructure supply chain systems, such as data from Dynamics 365, and other ERP providers, including SAP and Oracle, along with standalone supply chain systems.

The data manager in the supply chain centre enables data ingestion and orchestration to provide visibility across the supply chain and drive action back into systems of execution. During preview, launch partners CH Robinson, FedEx, FourKites and Overhaul will offer native experiences within the supply chain centre.

Dynamics 365 supply chain management users automatically gain access to the supply chain centre, which also includes prebuilt modules to address supply chain disruptions across supply and order fulfilment.

The supply and demand insights module uses Azure AI models to predict upstream supply constraints and shortages through supply intelligence. Organisations can perform simulations using data from their supply chain network to predict stock-outs, over-stocking or missed-order lines. Combined with smart news insights, which provide relevant news alerts in the supply chain centre on external events, supply chain practitioners can make decisions and plan with real-world event information and historical insights for product demands.

The order management module lets organisations intelligently orchestrate fulfilment and automate it with a rules-based system using real-time omnichannel inventory data, AI and machine learning. Organisations can adapt quickly to meet future order volumes and fulfilment complexities by extending their capabilities with prebuilt connectors to specialised technology partners for order intake, delivery and third-party logistics services. Existing Dynamics 365 intelligent order management users will automatically get access to the supply chain centre and the order management module at launch.

Withsecure, built-in Teams integration, users can mitigate supply constraints by collaborating with external suppliers in real time, to secure new supply sources, troubleshoot transportation issues, and communicate upstream and downstream impacts based on changes.

With partner modules built into the supply chain centre, users can unlock specific options, such as freight visibility from Overhaul, directly in the experience. Since everything runs off a Dataverse environment, the data are consistent no matter what module is being using. This eliminates pasting information back and forth and reconciling which reports have the most up-to-date information.

“Supply chains are more critical than ever,” said Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research. “Our early assessment of the Microsoft supply chain platform and supply chain centre is that the company has put its technology, applications and resources together in a way that will serve its customer base well in a wide swath of IT and operations environments, offering flexibility for diverse IT environments and continuous agility for transformation into the future.”