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Enterprise software giant Oracle Corp. today unveiled the latest updates to its Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (Oracle Cloud SCM) platform, saying the changes will help organizations to increase collaboration across supply networks, proactively manage supply chain assets, and implement long-term supply chain planning.

According to Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle, the improvements will allow companies to build more resilient and agile supply chains, thanks to new features like: Oracle logistics digital assistant, Oracle AI planning advisor, field service preventative maintenance, multi-tier supply chain collaboration, planning for project-driven supply chain, new channel revenue management capabilities, and cross-product procurement enhancements.

Oracle’s release came out on the same date as an upgrade from its rival enterprise software vendor, the german technology giant SAP AG, which today announced a new release of its SAP Logistics Business Network. That cloud-based network platform is designed to connect SAP customers’ back-end systems to their freight collaboration, tracking, order fulfillment, and material traceability networks, the company says.

According to SAP, the updated Logistics Business Network increases network visibility, collaboration, and reach through upgrades like: sales order fulfillment tracking, enhanced freight collaboration capabilities, standard APIs to connect partners and networks, and new coverage for additional modes of transport through partnerships with ClearMetal and Shippeo, as well as its existing partnership with project44.

As the releases came out in the midst of a deadly pandemic, both companies pointed to a growing need for companies to safeguard against global disruptions by supporting sustainable and resilient supply chains.

“The last 12 months have stretched supply chains to the limit as organizations wrestle with the disruptions of Covid-19, shifting global trade agreements, rapidly changing customer expectations, and numerous other unforeseen circumstances,” Rick Jewell, senior vice president, Oracle Applications development, said in a release. “With the new capabilities within Oracle Cloud SCM, we are helping our customers navigate this complexity and build more adaptable businesses that can respond to today’s challenges and whatever comes next.” 

For example, shutdowns and panic-buying during the pandemic have disrupted freight transportation patterns across the U.S., said Jon Chorley, Oracle’s chief sustainability officer and GVP of SCM Product Strategy. But to weather than challenge, companies must understand that an unprecedented event like the Covid-19 health crisis may cause spikes in volume and demand, but some of those spikes will be just temporary increases followed by deep toughs. “You have to look at it differently than from traditional, historical causes, and see that some retailers are stuffing the supply chain with their products, but other items are not selling at all,” Chorley said. “The trick is in teasing those different effects apart.”

According to Chorley, Oracle’s upgraded platform can help companies cope with pandemic supply chain impacts both on the transportation side and on the demand management side. Looking at transportation first, users can apply Oracle software to flex their capacity, find pools of new availability, fit more product onto each truck, and optimize routing in transit. “But on the demand side, you have to understand which impacts are caused by which factors,” he said. “You can’t just run the same plan you ran last month; you have to adjust the dials.”

To do that, users can turn to Oracle’s “causal factors” tool, which tracks changes in supply and demand to specific triggers, such as seasonality, geography, flu season, or weather events. “If you know that increased demand is a temporary spike in hoarding, like a rush for paper products for cleaning surfaces during the pandemic, then you don’t start ramping up long-term capacity because there will be a trough that follows, not sustained demand,” Chorley said.



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