The history of supply chain concepts goes back to the 1800s. The core concept — the involvement of various organizations, people, activities, information and resources for moving a product/service from a source to end customer in a systematic way — still holds true. But one question that arises is: What has changed during the past two centuries? The answer is the management system. Many models and approaches have been introduced, based on the organization’s need, situation and environment. In the recent decades technology has played a major role in bringing a better management system.
Let’s step back and think about current management systems, and see if we can make improvements. To begin, the diagram below shows the current traditional supply chain management. The process is a series, with the end consumer near the end of the system. The idea has been that consumers don’t need to know what happens behind the scenes to receive a good or service. In this diagram, the customer is interacting with the retailer to purchase, and the service teams to have that purchase serviced. This is the same case with retailers. They don’t need to know where an item is manufactured or what type of raw materials are used.
In reality, the trend is changing. Consumers are asking questions such as, “I ordered my car. Where is it now?” or “I ordered a part replacement for my printer, is the part being shipped? Where can I track it?” To answer these questions, we need to imagine the complexity of changing the serial system. The questions don’t need to originate just from the consumer, but from various stakeholders, such as distributors, retailers, and service agents. Each has different approach, but with the current system, they are either unable to get the answers or have limited answers to their queries.
An Application Program Interface (API)-centric solution could resolve this problem. In an API-centric solution, each stakeholder has access to information they need. The diagram below depicts how APIs play an important role in the lifecycle of the supply chain management system.
In an API-centric system, each stakeholder can have cross-talks. They can better understand consumer expectations and work towards achieving success. Less information is lost in translation. To promote and engage more cross-talk, it is absolutely necessary to enable communication via APIs. However, the moment APIs are in place, there is a greater need for security and authorization, easy partner onboarding, self-service, governance and data protection. There are several API Management products available in market to address these challenges. APIGEE, BOOMI, MuleSoft, CA-Layer7, Akana, WSO2, TIBCO, or Mashery can be used, and come with features to secure and monetize the APIs.
Once an API-centric approach is embraced in modern supply chain management systems, an enormous window of business use cases will open for additional revenue channels, effective engagement with partners, real-time data availability and accelerated business decisions. Early adopters will gain a competitive edge.
NTT DATA Digital API Services are part of NTT DATA Digital Business Services, providing consulting and implementation services for an API-centric approach. NTT DATA Digital APIs Services enables digital API transformation for our customers by taking a business-first approach. Our digital transformation know-how gives you access to leading technologies like NTT DATA Services Boomi and SecureWorks. You can also leverage our relationships with leading product vendors and cloud partners to meet your specific requirements.