Buying supply chain software from one vendor will not help businesses drive benefits from procurement, according to researchers at Liverpool University.
The problem with standardising on software from one vendor is that the decision is taken by the firm at the top of the supply chain, said Dennis Kehoe, professor of ebusiness at Liverpool University's ebusiness centre.
"The supply chain then becomes focused on only the top tier, and ignores the needs of other members," Kehoe said.
In order for real firms to get real benefits from streamlining their supply chains, there needed to be "an honest broker", he said.
Public marketplaces such as Covisint have tried to present themselves as honest brokers, but recent changes to their management structure have damaged this concept.
Kehoe said: "What is needed is a trusted third party that can speak to all members of a supply chain, and retain their credibility.
"This cannot be achieved if there is a power-play dominating the supply chain. They tend to commoditise the suppliers, concentrating only on price. Cost is not the only important factor for businesses, but it will harm suppliers in the long term," he warned.
The researchers at Liverpool University have been working with Compuware to develop integrated supply chains. They have received five years of funding to research manufacturing supply chains.
Key to developing innovative supply chains is a challenge of system integration, said Kehoe. Getting meaningful information from presentation layers to feed into back office systems remained a challenge, he said.
"Businesses can make tremendous gains through improving data availability, optimising inventory levels. This requires collaboration," Kehoe added.
But supply chain vendor i2 denied that its software introduces unsustainable pricing pressures within supply chains.
"Companies have to be ultra-efficient. The most competitive ones will be ones that have the most efficient supply chains," said Andy Brown, vice president of marketing at i2.
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