The concept of a supply chain control tower has been gaining momentum over the past year. A control tower is a single command center for visibility, decision-making and action, based on real-time data. According to Capgemini Consulting “A supply chain control tower is a central hub with the required technology, organization and processes to capture and use supply chain data to provide enhanced visibility for short and long term decision making that is aligned with strategic objectives.” (Capgemini Consulting, “Global Supply Chain Control Towers” May 2011)
It’s also a new name for a concept that has been around for a while: 4PL. Companies are increasingly realizing that supply chain must become a core competency, and taking on the 4PL role offers them the ability to accelerate collaboration and achieve higher levels of performance. The control tower represents the common processes that are enabled by cloud-based technologies, such as configuring a set of services to business units and trading partners across a supply network. These services start with basic plumbing ‑ collect and aggregate all orders, shipments, inventory and status. This information is linked to other enterprise systems to provide global visibility, then transformed to become the input for supply chain execution solutions.