A poll of more than 50 organisations, including some of the word's best-known brands, shows less than half have a business planning process that looks more than 12 months ahead.

The poll was conducted during an hour-long webinar, jointly hosted by supply chain optimization experts, Oliver Wight; optimization technology and prescriptive modelling specialists, AIMMS; and leading logistics solutions consultancy, Districon.

The webinar, 'Influence customer demand; optimize your commercial activities through Integrated Business Planning' provided an exclusive look at the integrated end-to-end supply chain optimization solution, offered by Oliver Wight, AIMMS and Districon.

The live survey of delegates showed that only 44 percent have an Integrated Business Planning or S&OP process with an 'active horizon' beyond 12 months. Alarmingly three percent of organisations are only planning three months in advance.

"When it comes to demand planning in particular, one of the big issues is that organisations are unable to model different scenarios based on dynamic market conditions," says Oliver Wight Associate, Liam Harrington.

The integrated supply chain optimization solution offered by the Oliver Wight, AIMMS and Districon partnership is designed to help businesses align business strategy and supply chain strategy to meet customer's needs in the most efficient and profitable way. "It works on three planning levels," says Marcel Mourits, Supply Chain Optimization Executive at AIMMS: "At the strategic level, designing the supply chain over a 10-year period or more; mid-term capacity utilisation over 24 to 36 months; and optimizing the end-to-end supply chain response to any deviation from the plan, within the 30 day execution window. Integrated Business Planning aligns perfectly with the mid-term planning of supply chain optimisation, and the integrated supply chain plan feeds into the entire Integrated Business Planning process."

Delegates were advised to begin by modelling their current situation to ensure they create a model that reflects the real world, and then go on to model what is optimal and practical. "For example, your data might show that with unconstrained sales resource you could increase revenues by 15 percent," says Jack Pool, Managing Director of Districon. "In the real world that might not be practical, but by leaving sales resource as it is, you could still see a lift of say, seven percent."

"Data is vital, of course, but you can make a start with just a small amount," explains Mourits. "The AIMMS software provides integrated analytics to support evaluation of the business situation on a continual basis, but you don't have to go to a granular level to start with."

"This isn't about computers," concludes Harrington. "It's about understanding your business better, and key to success is that sales and marketing take ownership of the demand process."