Table: The Weakest Links

Fully digitized supply chains promise to smooth the flow of information among manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers. Still, supply-chain software makers and their clients have underestimated the challenges, which include:

ARCHITECTURE

Even now, the majority of information-technology systems linked into supply chains can't operate on the Internet.

DATA QUALITY

Data corruption occurs through typos and "translation" errors as information is moved among different computer systems.

STANDARDS

Messages may be digitized, but without a common language to describe parts and processes, different computers can't react.

SCALE

Many supply-chain projects are too large to implement.

HUMAN SMARTS

The software can be wrong. People often do a better job of analyzing and reacting to data from supply-chain systems.

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