Accenture and SAP have joined forces to develop advanced capabilities aimed at improving supply chain visibility and minimizing risks. The collaboration involves integrating these capabilities into SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain (IBP), enabling companies to identify and respond swiftly to changes in supply, demand, and inventory. This initiative focuses on creating a supply chain "nerve center" that outperforms traditional business planning applications, offering enhanced visibility and mitigation capabilities tailored to today's complex supply chains.
The nerve center leverages cloud resources, data from diverse sources, generative AI (GenAI), and analytics to provide organizations with deeper insights into their supply chains. Michel Roger, Global SAP Supply Chain Leader at Accenture, explains that this approach enables organizations to identify risks beyond their tier 1 or tier 2 suppliers and make informed decisions regarding factors such as suppliers' adherence to environmental, social, and governance requirements.
Built on the SAP Business Technology Platform, the nerve center utilizes the SAP Datasphere data integration platform and is centered on SAP IBP. It can seamlessly connect with other SAP applications, including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Network, SAP Extended Warehouse Management, SAP TM Transportation Management, and SAP Analytics Cloud. To evaluate potential failure points, financial risks, and mitigation strategies, the nerve center incorporates a supply chain resilience stress test that Accenture and MIT developed. Additionally, it features digital twin software from Cosmo Tech to simulate supply chain behavior under various stresses, aiding in the development of mitigation plans.
The Accenture supply chain nerve center is already available, with some components in use by Accenture customers. One global consumer products company is leveraging the resilience stress test to identify risks and enhance its business continuity plans.
This collaboration between Accenture and SAP addresses the limitations of linear supply chain planning in traditional IBP process software applications, which may not be sufficient for the complexity and disruptions present in today's supply chains. The nerve center aims to provide a platform that can access bidirectional internal and external signals, enabling accurate planning and enhanced resilience.
According to Douglas Kent, Executive Vice President of Corporate and Strategic Alliances at the Association for Supply Chain Management, the partnership aligns with the need for more advanced planning systems capable of managing bidirectional systems for accurate plans. The nerve center represents a crucial tool for organizations grappling with a dynamic world and ongoing supply chain disruptions.
Further, Michael Dominy, Vice President of Supply Chain Research at Gartner, emphasizes that while IBP is not new, the nerve center capabilities enhance it by incorporating additional data elements and insights, facilitating advanced indications of potential disruptions. The challenge lies in governance and decision-making within organizations, as getting alignment around a plan remains critical for success.
The nerve center concept draws inspiration from the body's nervous system, with SAP IBP acting as the brain of the supply chain system. Despite technological advancements, organizations must address governance and decision-making challenges to derive value from these advanced capabilities.