THE global supply chain management industry is "in flux and changing", requiring a more sophisticated approach to managing the alignment of supply and demand, says Hamish Brewer, CEO of US-based supply chain management solutions group JDA Software.

Mr Brewer said on Tuesday that the "massive shift" of manufacturing capacity to Asia over the past decade had seen a big effect on supply chain planning and execution, with companies having to move products around the globe to meet demand.

The dynamics of the global economy had changed, with economic growth in the "mature economies" having slowed while the emerging economies were "still growing strongly", meaning businesses had to manage "very different strategies" for their operations in different economies. Another change had been the growth of online e-commerce where consumers could "shop across boundaries".

"From a supply chain perspective, it creates a whole new paradigm in terms of the consumer supply chain, and that’s affecting both retailers and manufacturers significantly," Mr Brewer said.

Last December, JDA merged with RedPrairie, a global supply chain execution group with offices in South Africa and a focus on transportation management, warehouse management, workforce management and "all the way down to in-store operations in the case of retail supply chain", he said. The combined firm adopted the JDA brand identity.

"Simplistically, the opportunity we have is by connecting JDA with RedPrairie we connect supply-chain planning with supply-chain execution, which sounds like a fairly obvious thing to do but there’s never really been two leading proponents in those two markets who’ve been brought together."

JDA worked with "the major retailers" in the South African market, including Woolworths, Pep Stores, Pick n Pay, Shoprite and The Foschini Group, Mr Brewer said.

With "increasing levels of complexity" being introduced into businesses due to the changing supply chain management industry, Mr Brewer said the group could allow its customers to "truly get a handle on their supply chain and run it, instead of it running them". Customers could also "substantially reduce working capital" by 20% to 30% "while improving service levels".

Mr Brewer said while South Africa was lagging in terms of e-commerce, "in general, the country actually is a developed environment in terms of process around supply chain. Our customers here are among the leading thinkers in the world in terms of best practices."

Many of the group’s customers "are really gearing up to think of themselves as not just South African businesses but as sub-Saharan Africa businesses".