Microsoft enters supply chain market, rolls out supply chain platform

Microsoft’s is entering the supply chain market with its latest software. The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform is designed to help organizations maximize their supply chain data estate investment via a combination of Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI), collaboration, low code, security, and SaaS applications within one overarching platform, according to the company last month.

The rollout of this supply chain software have come at the right time when supply chain worldwide are disrupted, whether due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the Great Recession, the “Great Resignation,” quiet quitting, layoffs, legislation that impacted trucking and shipping, the war in Ukraine, or other factors.  The global supply chain has stuttered of late, Chip shortages, cabling shortages, and much longer lead times for equipment have become the norm.

Supply chain dovetails nicely into existing Microsoft strengths in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), collaboration, project management, and the cloud.

Microsoft Supply Chain Platform

To enhance supply chain capabilities, the Platform makes use of building blocks across Azure, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Power Platform.

For example, a feature known as Dataverse enables users to create thousands of connectors to gain visibility across existing supply chain systems. They can use it to develop custom workflows using low-code solutions within the Power Platform. In addition, they can collaborate internally and externally on security using Microsoft Teams.

The Microsoft partners which are already within their extensive ecosystem will be able to use the new platform to enable supply chain resiliency and agility for their own customers. While some can use it to carve out a niche of supply chain and domain expertise that piggybacks on other offerings, such as Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams, and Power Platform.

With the Microsoft Supply Chain Center at the core of the Supply Chain Platform, it provides a command center experience that can harmonize data from across existing infrastructure supply chain systems, such as data from Dynamics 365 and other enterprise resource planning (ERP) providers, including SAP and Oracle, along with stand-alone supply chain systems.

Therefore, microsoft Supply Chain Center, will be welcomed in some quarters as a ready-made command center for supply chain visibility and transformation. It can work natively with an organization’s supply chain data and applications to add more comprehensive collaboration, supply and demand insights, and order management. Note that Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management customers can automatically gain access to Supply Chain Center.

Within Supply Chain Center, there are several components. Data Manager enables data ingestion and orchestration from current systems of execution. A supply and demand insights module leverages Azure AI models to predict upstream supply constraints and shortages as well as perform simulations. Smart news insights provides relevant news alerts on external events. An order management module orchestrates fulfillment and automates it with a rules-based system through real-time omnichannel inventory data, machine learning (ML), and AI.

“Businesses are dealing with petabytes of data spread across legacy systems, ERP, supply chain management, and point solutions, resulting in a fragmented view of the supply chain.  Supply chain agility and resilience are directly tied to how well organizations connect and orchestrate their data across all relevant systems,”

Charles Lamanna, corporate VP, Microsoft Business Applications and Platforms.

Lamanna said Microsoft Supply Chain Platform and Supply Chain Center “enable organizations to make the most of their existing investments to gain insights and act quickly.”

Supply chain solutions are “more critical than ever. Our early assessment of the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform and Supply Chain Center is that the company has put its technology, applications, and resources together in a way that will serve its customer base well in a wide swath of IT and operations environments, offering flexibility for diverse IT environments and continuous agility for transformation into the future”

Daniel Newman, founding partner and principal analyst, Futurum Research.

According to Grandview Research, the global supply chain management market size was estimated to be valued at $18.5 billion in 2021.

But with an expected expansion rate of 11% per year between 2022 and 2030, this market could be well in excess of $50 billion by the end of the decade.

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