Information Supply Chain Management – The Groundwork and Roadmap for Digitalisation Projects
BY FREDERIC ROTH
Companies which prioritise a highly optimised approach to their Information Supply Chain Management (ISCM) do not only benefit from a time-saving assessment of their current degree of digitalisation. These businesses are further able to implement long-term digitalisation projects, such as an overhaul of their product information management (PIM), master data management (MDM), and shop or content management systems (CMS) more successfully. In the following article, you can find out how a comprehensive understanding of ISCM can be beneficial to your company’s enduring software strategy and how you can kickstart your next digitalisation project based on ISCM.
An outline and central components of ISCM
Originally based on the understanding of the regular supply chain management approach, the main purpose of ISCM is to improve the totality of any data-driven company’s interconnected flow of information, easing the process of selecting the right systems, software suppliers, and digitalisation partners. The three main pillars of ISCM, which are in constant fluid interaction with each other, encapsulate the relevant software markets any company has to consider for the generation or refinement of its existing IT architecture.
The first essential tenet of ISCM, data procurement, encompasses all systems related to the maintenance, onboarding, export, and transformation of your key data domains. By establishing these systems strategically, company-specific contextual rules for this information can be implemented, thereby forming knowledge networks that represent the organisation’s intellectual property. Based on this, the second part of ISCM, data preparation, entails the production and communication design of content in different forms, languages and degrees of complexity. As an example, the PIM is the starting point for translation processes regarding your product information and product-related marketing copies. Texts are sent from there to a translation management system (TMS) and the translated content is then communicated back to PIM while being stored in the TMS for possible subsequent translations, allowing for all departments and employees to easily access and edit the content.
Data distribution, the third stepstone of the ISCM, includes all marketplaces, touchpoints, and other owned and third-party channels that will ultimately be available to your customers. Hence, once all relevant product information is available in the various systems, it can securely be distributed to the different channels – operated, among others, by content management or e-commerce systems (ECOM), mobile apps or product content syndication. Using (digital shelf) analytics, you can gain valuable insights into your customer journey, which should re-enter the information supply chain in the form of continuous tweaks and optimisations of product content management.
Why ISCM is essential for your business
ISCM allows for a transparent documentation of the software systems implemented – and, ultimately, of all the essential data flows within a company. Based on this level of clarity, decisions regarding the IT infrastructure can be made more confidently and in consideration of potential synergies and side effects on other parts of the information supply chain.
Creating interconnections between different systems of data procurement, data preparation, and data distribution offers up many long-lasting advantages to your business. If you have consolidated the data of your products’ life cycle into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and enhanced this data with contextual information from PIM, you have laid the digital foundation for your company’s product-related IP. By instituting your products’ media into media or digital asset management (MAM/DAM) systems and by connecting your product-related information with your CRM, you can create powerful contexts that will benefit your product communication substantially. Complementing product master data with other key data domains such as suppliers, customers, or locations, creates a valuable data basis that allows for in-depth analyses and business insights. This way, MDM allows the relevant information in your analytics to be sourced from many different systems, thereby optimising the accuracy of results. The insights derived can be used to drive the conversion in your distribution channels, create more efficiency in your product administration, and help you build a sustainable and flexible business in an increasingly dynamic ecosystem.
Therefore, ISCM is an invaluable tool for data-driven companies that strive for a constant optimisation of their business processes and data flows.
Mind the gap: signposts for your next digitalisation project
To determine the current state of your company’s information supply chain, a general and transparent documentation of every individual software area simplifies the process of formulating overarching goals and clarifying potential challenges of your next digitalisation project. By taking stock of your information supply chain, you can reliably identify which software area requires a more efficient restructuring, pinpoint potential weak points that may arise, or discover system areas which have been completely absent so far.
This is an especially important concern for young, emerging companies experiencing a lot of growth, as many digitalisation projects are left by the wayside or postponed and have to be caught up on afterwards. Thus, what may have initially appeared to be a cost-cutting measure or a simple lack of documentation due to missing transparency regarding data processes, later down the line turns out to create more organisational hurdles for your information supply chain. These omitted digitalisation measures result in frequent wastes of resources, problems with your employees’ workflow as well as overall work satisfaction, poor data quality, and many more related issues on a regular basis. This is why the documentation information supply chain should not only be viewed as an afterthought but an essential part of your overarching corporate strategy, as it illuminates necessary fields of action and allows for important correlations as well as dependencies to be identified. Moreover, this evaluation forms the basis for the documentation of all forthcoming data processes in ISCM and simplifies your decisions on responsibilities and individual procedures for these areas of improvement, thus allowing you to formulate a specific roadmap of your digitalisation strategy.
Seeing the bigger and better picture of your company’s successful digital transformation
May the initial prospect of dedicatedly documenting, outlining and implementing your company’s digitalisation strategy seem daunting at first, a clear roadmap to necessary adjustments or complete overhauls to your software systems will have a variety of, often unexpected, benefits downstream. Transparently strategising your ISCM from the get-go affords you the ability to not only implement process optimisations but to view these adjustments to your software systems as an overarching and thus essential asset to your company’s sustainable digital transformation.
Picture credit © Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
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