The Value of Supply Chain Visibility: Traceability is Just the Start

Traceability systems aggregate data from the extended supply chain to create a new level of visibility or transparency.


• Create the transparency necessary to reestablish trust with consumers. Our research shows that the growing number of product contaminations and recalls and excessive claims by manufacturers has significantly heightened consumer concerns about food safety and eroded consumer trust. A June 2009 IBM study reveals less than 20 percent of consumers in the U.S. trust food companies to develop and sell food products that are safe and healthy for themselves and their families. These numbers continue a downward trend also seen in the UK, Canada, and China.

When Mike Duke, President and CEO of Walmart, announced their Sustainability Index in 2009, he made this comprehensive statement of the benefits of building transparency: “Information on the quality and history of products will drive higher quality, lower cost and lower carbon output, promote clean air and water, and create a more transparent and responsible supply chain.”

While it is obviously necessary for all companies to cost justify spending on a new system to enable visibility/traceability/transparency objectives, it is also good to know that full transparency supports corporate social responsibility and is “the right thing to do.”

 

Susan J. Wilkinson is a Subject Matter Expert, Smarter Food Supply Networks, IBM Global Business Services.

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