The phenomenal evolution of telecommunications now makes cloud technology accessible everywhere. An apparel executive can now see whether they are at the sewing stage of a manufacturing cycle or at that the goods are already in transit and where it is in the world. Since supply chain and logistic analysts of a brand can now track in real time every step of a supply chain, informed decisions and forecasts for capacity management and contingency planning have become easier. All these lead to a much streamlined industry.


If there is any sector that has been totally transformed - or is in the process of being transformed - by cloud computing, it is logistics and supply chain management. In many ways, the cloud concept itself was tailor-made for this industry because of its global scope and involvement of stakeholders.


The cloud allows data from many sources to be centrally collected, transformed, and presented in dynamic dashboards. Therefore, by taking recourse to the cloud, supply chain and logistic analysts can track in real time every step of a supply chain. This results in informed decisions and forecasts for capacity management and contingency planning. Since cloud platforms for logistics are far more dynamic and responsive compared to earlier supply chain and logistics tracking tools, the cloud has been a heaven-sent gift for the logistics and supply chain industry.


It's a given that supply chain finance benefits both buyers and suppliers. But, the mechanism is most effective when all three - buyer, supplier and financial institution - are connected on a single network that manages the complete transaction lifecycle from purchase order, through shipment, invoice and settlement of the invoice. That's the shape of things to come.


And, of course, this makes life easier for one and all. Heidi Benko, vice president - Product Management at GT Nexus, makes this easier to understand. She says, "Capital is essential to the health of any supply chain. When it dries up, business comes to a halt. Linking all parties together and inserting financial services based on data visibility or the financial strength of the buyer or, in this case the performance on the platform makes it easier for funds to be delivered into the transaction, more frequently and at lower rates."


Therefore, connectivity also becomes the foundation for collaboration beyond just financing. It opens the door to supply planning and raw materials management. It simplifies amendment processes. It leads to work in process (WIP) tracking and factory automation. Continues Benko, "All of these processes - when linked together by an underlying platform - allow data to become a competitive weapon for better execution in the supply chain. Unlike other platforms, finance providers are party to the transaction, having full visibility to the transaction lifecycle and to supplier performance history. This helps finance providers mitigate risks, creating the ability to fund greater volumes and at competitive rates. It enables finance providers to offer programmes such as PO Financing and to create innovative financing programmes that are not available without a comprehensive supply chain cloud platform and network like GT Nexus."


Benko's company, GT Nexus, is the developer and operator of one of the world's largest cloud supply chain platform of its kind. It is virtually a community of manufacturers, retailers, logistics service providers, carriers, trading partners, and banks working towards improving the pace, ease, and flexibility of doing business globally.