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Supply Chain Control Towers: Progress yet to materialize, experts say

by Bridget McCrea
Contributing Writer,

Control tower with airplane 

(Article has been updated with new comments from Bob Ferrari)

The term "supply chain control towers" surfaced a few years ago when companies started realizing that smarter decision-making could be achieved by combining supply chain execution capabilities with key performance indicators (KPIs) and data analytics. In 2012, Bob Ferrari, managing director at The Ferrari Consulting Research Group in Boston, described supply chain control towers as a "more holistic, information-centric software approach."

"The tower is basically an information conduit that collects pertinent supply chain execution, planning, and fulfillment information and then feeds that business intelligence (BI) back to the company," said Ferrari at that time. Using that BI, companies can monitor KPIs across the supply chain and respond quickly to critical conditions, exceptions, and other events. In today's ultra-competitive business environment, being armed with those strategic and actionable supply chain insights can mean the difference between staying on top and falling behind. 

Hubs for Gathering and Distributing

In its Global Supply Chain Control Towers report, Capgemini calls control towers "cross-divisional organizations with system integrated information hubs that provide supply chain visibility." These hubs are used for gathering and distributing information, and allow people trained to use these visibility capabilities to detect and act on risks or opportunities more quickly. In most cases, control towers are set-up to monitor, measure, and manage transport and inventory movements across the supply chain.

In 2012, the supply chain control tower concept was still ...

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About Bridget McCrea

Bridget McCrea covers business and technology topics for various publications. She can be reached at

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