The value of supply chain management (SCM) systems has been well established, and these systems have been widely adopted throughout retail. Most SCM systems, including ERPs, were initially developed to satisfy insourced supply chain models and are consequently enterprise-centric by nature. The explosion of retailers’ private brands, with their inherent outsourced supply chain model, has created a significant need for supply chain platforms designed to support a collaborative and transparent exchange of information with third party suppliers and partners.
To address this increasing need, we believe businesses must adopt a multienterprise collaboration network (MCN), also known as a multi-enterprise supply chain platform. The Gartner April 2023 Market Guide for Multienterprise Collaboration Networks explains how multienterprise collaboration networks enable a community of trading partners to coordinate and execute on business processes that extend across multiple enterprises in the business ecosystem. Supply chain technology leaders can use this research to understand the MCN marketplace.
According to the Market Guide, which lists TradeBeyond as a Representative Vendor, “Gartner considers cloud-based MCNs to be a key technology to coordinate, orchestrate and automate an organization’s extended supply chain within the overall business ecosystem they operate in.” Here are five key findings from the Market Guide, which we believe highlights the importance of MCNs in addressing supply chain challenges, improving visibility, fostering collaboration, streamlining operations, and driving resilience and sustainability. (You can download the full complimentary Market Guide here.)
Multienterprise collaboration networks offer several core capabilities that empower supply chain organizations to optimize their operations. These capabilities include network representation and management, connecting business partners of any tier and type, multichannel integration with external data feeds, synchronized data models, and a hub for data. MCNs also offer a set of core and extended supply chain applications, embedded analytics and intelligence, and collaboration and workflow orchestration. By leveraging these capabilities, organizations can improve supply chain visibility, enhance collaboration, improve data connectivity, and replace legacy applications.
According to the Market Guide, “Connecting, coordinating, collaborating and executing on business processes that extend across multiple enterprises for joint value generation will allow supply chain organizations to drive resilience in times of disruptions.” MCNs enable this resilience through seamless communication, data exchange, and collaboration among trading partners. These networks facilitate supply chain planning and execution, leading to improved operational efficiency.
“There is a significant interest in tools for data analytics and intelligence, ingesting a variety of internal and external, structured and unstructured data for further insights, predictions and suggestions,” the Market Guide reads. The report mentions the importance of analytics and decision intelligence platforms. Experts say having all data for end-to-end processes in one place, a simple objective that is so hard to achieve when operating with multiple, disparate systems. This enables organizations to foster connectivity, adapt to changes, develop flexible solutions, and make data-driven decisions.
Many organizations still lack a holistic, end-to-end view of their supply chains, which hampers their ability to effectively monitor and respond to disruptions. MCNs play a vital role in overcoming this challenge by providing organizations with the means to connect and collaborate with their trading partners across the supply chain ecosystem. By leveraging MCNs, businesses can achieve upstream visibility into suppliers and contract manufacturers, as well as downstream visibility into logistics and delivery providers.
As the Market Guide notes, “Digital business requires companies to have extended and situational awareness about their business ecosystem to enable intelligent response.” This is especially beneficial in matters of sustainability. Gartner cites supporting environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives as one of the top business priorities that m collaboration networks address. MCNs assist with “reducing waste and improving sustainability, including a strong focus on carbon footprint in the circular economy,” according to the Market Guide.
Read the full report to learn how multi-enterprise supply chain platforms, or MCNs, have become increasingly vital for optimizing supply chain management. As the MCN market continues to evolve, organizations should carefully evaluate their needs and preferences, considering factors like vendor specialization, architecture, and application capabilities. With the right solution in place, businesses can better navigate the challenges of the global sourcing landscape and drive operational excellence.
When selecting a supply chain management platform, remember to consider interoperability.
Retail’s leading multi-enterprise platform, TradeBeyond streamlines product development, allowing retailers and brands to accelerate new products to market and optimize design, sourcing, supplier management, order management, quality, and logistics, with a modular system that seamlessly connects all supply chain operations. Through these native integrations, TradeBeyond eliminates redundancies, inefficiencies, and dependence on unreliable APIs. The platform also helps companies achieve their ESG goals through automated monitoring, supply chain mapping, chain of custody tracking, and impact measurement.
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