Microsoft Unveils New Supply Chain Platform

Microsoft on Monday introduced the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform, which brings together various Microsoft services and partner solutions to address supply-chain management needs.

The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables organizations to leverage various Microsoft services, namely Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams and the Power Platform. It also works with the Microsoft Teams collaboration service.

Supply Chain Center Console
The main distinctive element of this platform is the Microsoft Supply Chain Center, a management console that's currently at the preview stage. It "natively works with existing supply chain data and applications."

Supply Chain Center will work with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 enterprise resource planning (ERP) service, but it'll also with "other ERP providers including SAP and Oracle, along with stand-alone supply chain systems," according to Microsoft.

Supply Chain Center includes a Data Manager feature, which is said to enable "data ingestion and orchestration." It currently supports "native experiences" from "launch partners C.H. Robinson, FedEx, FourKites and Overhaul."

Module Support
Supply Chain Center comes with two Microsoft-built modules, but it can also use partner-built modules.

Microsoft's modules in Supply Chain Center include:

  • The "Supply and Demand Insights" module, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict supply constraints, overstocking or potentially missed orders. This module has a "Smart News Insights" feature that surfaces related external events information within the Supply Chain Center portal.
  • The "Order Management Module," which uses real-time inventory data and AI to "quickly meet future order volumes." It has prebuilt connectors to work with the "order intake, delivery and third-party logistics services" of partners.

On the partner side, Overhaul currently offers a module that'll work with Microsoft Supply Chain Center preview, although the details weren't described.

Partner Integration Efforts
The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform can integrate with other supply-chain solutions. Doing so appears to require partner assistance.

To that end, Microsoft listed "Accenture, Avanade, EY, KPMG, PwC and TCS" as integrator and advisor partners.

The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform also works with various existing supply-chain software solutions. Microsoft listed solutions from "Blue Yonder, Cosmo Tech, Experlogix, Flintfox, inVia Robotics, K3, O9 Solutions, SAS, Sonata, To-Increase Software and many more" as being supported.

Some Supply Chain Platform Capabilities Coming to Dynamics 365
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP service has added functionality enabled via modules. Some of these modules have functions that seem similar to some Microsoft Supply Chain Platform capabilities.

Despite that circumstance, some Dynamics 365 users will be getting access to Supply Chain Platform tools, Microsoft indicated.

For instance, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management module users "automatically gain access to Supply Chain Center." Moreover, Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management module users "will automatically get access to Supply Chain Center and the order management module at launch."

The possible duplication in functionality between the new platform's capabilities and modules offered with the Dynamics 365 service wasn't elaborated upon in Microsoft's announcements.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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