The complexity of managing assets across the supply chain and the role of ServiceNow

With every year that passes, the scope of the ServiceNow platform ever extends itself into new functional areas of how an organisation operates to support driving greater visibility, consistency, and efficiency. On September 21st 2022, ServiceNow announced the latest release of its Now Platform called Tokyo (ServiceNow versions are named alphabetically after cities currently).

Three of the many new features included in the announcement stood out as of particular interest to PAC. The three in question are:

· Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

· Supplier Lifecycle Management (SLM)

· Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Management

These stood out to PAC because of the continued fragility of the global supply chain that has been further impacted this year by the fallout of the global pandemic, China’s ongoing zero-Covid policy, and the ongoing conflict within Ukraine. The UK is also experiencing additional supply chain challenges due to the lasting consequences of adjusting to a post-Brexit model. The shipping supply chain constraints felt in 2021, partly exacerbated by the Suez Canal blockage, have persisted across 2022, and the COVID lockdown of the port of Shanghai in March 2022 for two months has further impacted it. A domino effect of these issues has been increased shipping and container costs with potential further labour market complications. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, both the airspaces of Russia and Ukraine are closed, which has had a significant cost impact on the air freight industry, where demand is still outstripping supply keeping air freight rates hire.

Across Europe, the conversations PAC has with organisations in retail, manufacturing, logistics/freight, and construction sectors continue to highlight the fragility of both global and regional supply chains. The stresses placed on organisations by ongoing supply chain issues have reinforced the need for organisations like retailers to have a more integrated and holistic view across all supply chain relationships and assets. Handling returned merchandise, reverse logistics, overall supply chain optimisation, and micro-fulfilment are areas where an ESG sustainability strategy can provide operational benefits that demonstrate a retailer's corporate, social, and responsibility (CSR) credentials and provide opportunities for supply chain cost efficiencies and optimisation. Something that a decade earlier was far harder to plan for and then realise. As ESG has grown in importance for organisations, PAC continues to get feedback that its close relation to supply chain dynamics requires organisations to seek new ways of working with each of their partners across all parts of their supply chain.

From a logistics perspective, PAC expects to see investment growth by retailers and manufacturers in their transportation networks. A demand for deeper technology integration between them and long- and short-haul transportation logistic companies will become the norm as they seek to gain a level of transparency needed to increase visibility across their supply chain when seeking innovation points in their distribution network. For example, logistics, fulfilment, and retail organisations can coordinate in optimising all steps of the supply chain to meet their sustainability goals and provide cost-optimised distribution methods to minimise their environmental impact.

As supply chains have grown in interdependent complexity, so has the management of leased and owned assets supporting it. Historically, organisations have not had much insight into their operating assets across their supply chains. This is where EAM technology's capabilities are becoming a “must-have” to drive predictive maintenance through automating asset management, creating new services from existing asset insight, having fully auditable assets across the supply chain, meeting compliance demands, and reducing complexity through greater asset visibility.

It is well understood that supply chains do not handle uncertainty and unpredictability well. Therefore, PAC considers the three announcements by ServiceNow highlighted above, as part of the Tokyo release, as having the potential to support organisations as they look to optimise the complex nature of their supply chains, as discussed.