If a farmer wanted to view his land in order to decide where to move his cattle or which crops needed attention, he wouldn't climb up inside a silo to peak out a small window. He might, however, get on the roof of the barn or some other platform that would give him a broad perspective of the entire landscape so that he could evaluate conditions and prioritize his list of chores accordingly. He might even spot an unexpected storm brewing on the horizon.
The same logic applies to supply chain software: the broader the perspective and the more connections that can be established between various components and departments the better. That's why a supply chain platform, like Manhattan's SCOPE, has distinct advantages over cobbled together suites of applications. And it's why mission-critical applications, like Manhattan's Warehouse Management for Open Systems (WMOS 2010), provide benefits that the restricted views of siloed applications can't match.
A platform uses a common architecture and shared master and transaction data for all applications. That means that all data (like inventory and shipping status) and shared objects (like purchase orders and advance shipping notices) are consistent and uniform whether you're slotting merchandise on the warehouse floor or ordering items for a retail customer.
Often in a siloed environment, various departments have competing goals and functions that make sense in isolation, but conflict with each other in "the real world." As a result, operational performance and implementation of corporate strategies suffer. However, a platform's common architecture enables cross-functional, whole chain awareness and dynamic, proactive adaptability, which is essential in a multi-channel environment. So when sales for a new item go through the roof, all departments can respond:
The platform's shared data and real-time, cross-functional perspective keep the system in balance.
The same global perspective made possible by the platform applies to technical aspects of the supply chain, too. Because all applications share the same code base as well as master and transaction data, modifications, optimization and upgrades simultaneously benefit all operations globally. Having fewer "moving parts" (rather than a jumble of disparate but overlapping and repetitive software) also means that when technical improvements are needed, they are simpler and more efficient, resulting in the best outlook of all-lower total cost of ownership.
The benefits of the platform view are clear: boundaries and barriers disappear and an uncommonly flexible, connected and responsive supply chain takes their place. And that's when improvements in the supply chain make the whole company better.