Transportation stakeholders planning for 2022 are eager to identify the capabilities that can best serve them as they attempt to fix “broken” supply chains and take control over their logistics. Reports like “Predicts 2022: Supply Chain Technology” published by Gartner® aim to identify such capabilities and trends.
Notably, this year’s report calls out the ‘digital supply chain twin’ as worthy of attention.
“Through 2026, 80% of companies will suffer significant value loss due to failing to merge their digital supply chain twin and control tower initiatives,” Gartner® predicts.*
“Significant value loss” is enough to make any supply chain manager’s ears perk up. And while control tower initiatives are well-known, the digital supply chain twin may be less so. Even if the concept of a digital twin isn’t new, the term ‘digital supply chain twin’ and its current definition could still use some demystifying (terminology moves swiftly, as evidenced by our continuously updated logistics glossary).
This blog seeks to dig deeper on the digital supply chain twin, in order to show why it matters for 2022.
What is a digital supply chain twin?
The digital supply chain twin (DSCT) is a digital copy of an organization’s current supply chain used primarily for planning exercises. It’s also known as a ‘digital twin supply chain.’
As a tool, the DSCT represents a key resource for transportation planning. As a prescriptive model, it not only works with real data, it also can make updates in real-time. As a technological capability, the digital supply chain twin is sometimes, though not always, built into a TMS (spoiler alert: Alpega TMS includes it).
An organization makes use of the DSCT to run advanced supply chain scenarios, enabling better resilience – clearly a priority for stakeholders, as we enter another unpredictable year for logistics. However, challenges related to how the DSCT is used and how it integrates with other transportation management capabilities are essential to further investigate.
Leveraging the full advantages of the digital supply chain twin, then, represents a vital next step.
Why the digital supply chain twin matters for 2022
“Few companies recognize that digital supply chain twins and control towers are different sides of the same coin,” the same Gartner Predicts report states.**
The statement belies an essential point about the DSCT: in order for a company to drive value from this capability, it must be fully integrated with control tower logistics. The DSCT represents the planning aspect; the control tower represents the execution. According to Gartner, many companies fail to bridge the gap.
And the same companies’ supply chain operations, we would argue, suffer as a result. To understand why, examine the high-level aim of supply chain digitalization; for many companies, it can be broken down to three pillars:
Without fully integrating planning with execution, slow and limited information still informs decisions (or worse, information stays siloed). In such a scenario, challenges remain across all three of the digitalization pillars:
- Slower information from the DSCT to the control tower impedes agility and responsiveness for stakeholders across the transportation ecosystem
- Stakeholders can’t act (or act quickly enough) on resilience plans developed in the DSCT
This effect highlights the speed advantage of full integration between the DSCT and the control tower; decisions can happen faster, allowing stakeholders to know in advance about supply chain disruptions, and enabling quick action if and when they happen.
The easiest way to integrate a digital supply chain twin for your company
The digital supply chain twin is very much a part of Alpega TMS’s planning capabilities. However, we must admit, in our conversations with clients and clients-to-be, we don’t always use the term specifically.
Perhaps it’s because our TMS’s transport planning encompasses a lot more.
Regardless of your transportation network’s complexity, Alpega TMS delivers data-driven planning:
- Long-term, strategic optimization measures, including analyzing your network and facility locations
- Mid-term tactical planning for securing capacity and optimizing routes and modes
- Daily operational optimization of shipments and routes to fine tune your operations
Furthermore, Alpega TMS’s planning capabilities are already integrated with control tower logistics. That’s what we mean when we say we’re truly an end-to-end TMS.
When it comes to the DSCT and control tower, here’s what Gartner recommends:
“Improve the quality of end-to-end supply chain decision making by ensuring that both control tower and digital supply chain twin initiatives have to work together.”***
We think our TMS fits this definition perfectly. But if you want to see for yourself, please get in touch .
*Source: Gartner “Predicts 2022: Supply Chain Technology,” Dwight Klappich 17 November 2021. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission.