What is a Supply Chain Control Tower, Anyway?

What is a Supply Chain Control Tower, Anyway? main

If you ask ten different executives to define a supply chain control tower, you will probably get ten different answers.

Our CEO, Dennis Groseclose, shares his insight on the hype and common misinterpretations around the term…

First, the word “tower” means more than we think.

It evokes images of an airport control tower, standing high above the planes, baggage carts, and ground-based personnel. Someone standing in a control tower has full visibility of all these parts so they can effectively orchestrate their movements and ensure safety. The complex visibility and orchestration are laser-focused on satisfying demand to safely move people and freight on time and in full.

Visibility, of course, is a big part of digital supply chain solutions. But when most people talk about supply chain visibility, they naturally think about goods in motion. Unfortunately, this is where the misconceptions begin.

Having visibility to goods in motion is a good starting point, but is of limited value without a continuous understanding of end-to-end supply chain behavior.

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A controller standing in an airport tower, having full visibility of all the moving parts beneath them and around them, is analogous to a supply chain professional standing in a war room and staring up at a Common Operating Picture (COP) that shows all goods in motion, assets in nodes and the dynamic events surrounding the interconnected supply chain.

The COP is certainly a part of a digital supply chain solution, but that is the jumping-off point for a better definition of a supply chain control tower.

What is the point of far-reaching and real-time situational awareness if it doesn’t drive better outcomes and if it doesn’t result in greater early behavior warning and control?

This brings us to the word “control”.
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Control in the phrase “supply chain control tower” is about learning, understanding, predicting, and improving the behavior of things, nodes, lanes, routes, and people in a global supply chain. This is also a primary value driver in a truly digital supply chain.

TransVoyant customers are asking for much more than today’s definitions of a control tower – they are interested in real-time, connected, and predictive Global Supply Chain Situational Awareness.

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