Digital supply networks are based on an understanding of what digital technologies can enable how they can change the supply chain function and deliver value to stakeholders. They enable the materials, products and supplies that move across an enterprise, related data and those who manage and interact with those items to stay in touch with them despite their location.

In digital supply networks, the four elements of supply chains talent, physical, information and financial are connected by the use of social media, mobile communications, advanced analytics, cloud computing, and others, such as 3-D printing. That gives them the flexibility and transparency businesses need. Digital supply networks are connected, intelligent, scalable and rapid.

Being connected is important. Like air traffic control, a central supply chain control tower monitors and directs activities throughout the supply chain, making connectivity possible. It uses the real-time data the company collects to integrate supply chain processes and tools, and generates business outcomes. With its digital dashboards, the control tower becomes a repository of information about sourcing, production, shipments, inventory, talent and infrastructure that enables management decisions up and down the supply chain.

That information contributes to an increasingly intelligent, automated environment that uses analytics, cognitive equipment and smart apps to translate data into valuable information. The results: more well-informed decision making, more automation and accelerated innovation.

Such digitally-enabled supply chains are scalable, making it possible to add or delete partners and suppliers from the supply chain. Even the adjustments associated with the acquisition or divestment of a business can be much more readily addressed in digital supply networks where processes are easier to optimize and duplicate, and errors are easier to spot. They gain speed with decision support enabled by analytics, facilitating rapid response capabilities that make it possible for companies to grab new opportunities.

So build the elasticity your company needs to successfully compete and go where it hasn’t gone before with digital supply networks. Traditional supply chain models carried you to this point, but it will be the connectivity, intelligence, scalability and rapid nature of digital supply networks that will carry your organization into the future.