By Jarrod Goentzel and Fredrik Eng Larsson. About 90% of world trade is carried by sea, so you might imagine that being able to track the status of ocean shipments accurately and in real time would be a critical goal for companies looking to improve the management of their supply chains. Yet this operational Holy Grail remains elusive, despite advances in information technology.
The complexity of modern supply chains and the challenge of getting shippers, ocean carriers, and intermediaries to agree on common technologies and data standards have proved to be significant barriers to gaining true visibility across supply chains.
But there is another hurdle to looking into supply chains that individual companies can address: the inability of companies to measure the value of visibility to their own operations and to make a clear case for the return on investment.
In early 2015, we surveyed 160 logistics professionals about supply chain practices and we were struck by results that suggested that advances in technology have yielded little progress in helping companies see where their goods are moving in their supply chains. Less than 20% of those surveyed were satisfied with current visibility. Companies complained about black holes in information flows, especially when goods are transshipped in Asia and South America.