This week we've been looking at the function of supply chain mapping. The complications we've been told about in our research among our contacts has been really eye-opening and we're now building the first version of this mapping feature into ClearChain.
The first challenge was the disparate nature of supply chains in terms of contacts within an organisation. Many people are only aware of those suppliers with whom they deal on a regular basis or have any need to know. There aren't many functions that have a need to know about all of them, at every tier, the most obvious being the Accounts function - if they don't know about them, they can't be paid.
We also encountered an element of competitiveness within some organisations. While this could come as a surprise to some, it's certainly not unheard of and in years gone by it could result in one supplier servicing two different departments in the same orgainsation and charging different prices to each. Such competitiveness could inhibit attempts to map and entire supply chain.
Not surprisingly we found that a map of an entire supply chain was almost considered a holy grail. And especially so when you add the ability to filter the suppliers shown so that you can see only those which are of relevance to the user. The complication is that this can result in quite a few "dead ends" in the links between suppliers when some have been filtered out. This drove the ClearChain to work out some tricks to keep the user interface looking neat and simple.
With the depth to which we want to go with supply chain mapping we also have to keep one eye on data security and especially GDPR, so more complications had to be considered.
But overall we're excited to be offering this feature in ClearChain in the near future - and also excited to be thinking about how we use artificial intelligence to enhance the speed with which this mapping can be achieved. More of that anon.