A supply chain is the network of vendors, distributors, manufacturers, retailers and other entities that are directly and indirectly linked for the purpose of serving the same customer. This interconnected and synchronized chain allows services and products to reach a large number of consumers, both nationally and internationally (www. smallbusiness.chron.com). Horizontal integration is one tool used by entities along this supply chain to expand market penetration and establish growth. The solution to a successful supply chain and its integration with customers and supplies lies in its ability to communicate wants, needs, and realities. Seagate has taken communication to its highest level by creating visibility at every level of its supply chain. This visibility is the Holy Grail for Seagate because it is a form of communication that breeds trust and transparency throughout every level of its supply chain. This visibility has been bred through heavy investments in IT infrastructure, employee, supplier, subcontractor, and customer education, capital expenditures on research and development, and even bucking supply chain trends through vertical integration with subcontractors. Karl Chicca is quoted as saying, "Electronic connectivity gives us the visibility up and down the supply chain, and so we don't have to generate new capacity every time there is a request for more product." (Cohen & Roussel, 2005) This key concept of visibility both up and down the supply chain keeps the manufacturing process and the inventory allocation the flexibility it needs to react quickly to market changes. Seagate has worked to combine legacy systems and multiple ERP's acquired over the years into just two systems, with a focus on further refinement to one system for all ERP needs. They have made this a core requirement and thus have excelled and created a core competency within the organization.
This visibility and higher form communication is what enables Seagate to achieve real-time demand management, and lower reliance on demand forecasts.