TECHNOLOGY FOR SUPPORTING SUPPLY S upplying value to the consumer, that is, goods and services, is the essence of business. A supply chain is a network of organizations and their associated activities that work together, usually in a sequential manner, to produce value for the consumer. Customerfacing firms at the retail level, whether large department stores, automobile dealerships, or fast-food franchises, are only the tip of the iceberg. Behind them exist entire networks of manufacturers and distributors, transportation and logistics firms, banks, insurance companies, brokers, warehouses and freightforwarders, all directly or indirectly attempting to make sure the right goods and services are available at the right price, where and when the customers want them. Having delivered the goods or services, the chain does not terminate. At the front end, through delivery, installation, customer education, help desks, maintenance, and repair, the goods or services are made useful to the customer. At the end of the product life, reverse logistics ensures that used and discarded products are disassembled, brought back, and where possible, recycled and sent back into the supply network. The scope of the supply chain, thus, extends from dirt to dirt, from the upstream sources of supply,
Communications of the ACM – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Jun 1, 2001
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