Microsoft is looking to compete in the supply chain tech space with several new tools designed to integrate various supply chain systems.
The tech firm on Monday announced it created:
- A new product, called the Microsoft Supply Chain Center, designed to help customers connect data across various ERPs and third-party supply chain management solutions;
- A new way to package its products, called the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform, which allows the company to market various supply-chain related solutions to customers.
Consumer packaged goods company Kraft Heinz North America, truck-maker Daimler Truck North America and fitness firm iFit are already using the tech as part of the preview period, according to a Microsoft blog post.
The three companies, which helped pilot the new technology as preview customers, used Microsoft new offerings to solve distinct problems in supply chain management. Kraft Heinz used the supply chain center to increase its agility; iFit used it to optimize transportation costs; and Daimler used it to manage truck parts and suppliers.
"The platform gives our team the ability to be more agile – assessing risk and opportunities faster than ever before," Mitch Arends, executive vice president and head of operations at Kraft Heinz North America, said in a statement for the blog post. "Simply put, it provides the end-to-end visibility we need to keep our products on people’s tables across North America, and there’s nothing more important.”
Other companies can sign up to trial the technology as part of an official preview period, which is starting this week. Some Microsoft customers will automatically gain access to the trial as part of their existing agreements, according to the blog post.
Microsoft already offers various products that can help with supply chain management. It has Dynamics 365, an ERP, and Azure, a cloud-computing platform. The tech firm has also been signing new contracts with shippers and forging other partnerships, such as on a data integration for order management with FedEx, to further develop its supply chain technology.
But prior to the Supply Chain Center, Microsoft did not have a clear way to market its wide array of supply chain management products and integrations, according to Mike Bassani, general manager of supply chain and business applications at Microsoft.
"You really now have this kind of one two punch of a hub product in [Dynamics 365], and kind of a spoke product or a surround product in Microsoft Supply Chain Center," Bassani said in an interview.
The new system aims to act as a connector to both internal Microsoft products and external Microsoft products. In a press release, Microsoft highlighted the Supply Chain Center would be able to connect to other ERPs, like SAP and Oracle. The tech firm also noted FedEx, FourKites, C.H. Robinson and Overhaul each built native experiences on the platform for ease of use.
Such an approach to integration is crucial to success in supply chain management tech as companies deal with huge amounts of data, according to Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of Microsoft business applications and platform.
"Businesses are dealing with petabytes of data spread across legacy systems, ERP, supply chain management and point solutions, resulting in a fragmented view of the supply chain," Lamanna said in the press release. "Supply chain agility and resilience are directly tied to how well organizations connect and orchestrate their data across all relevant systems.”