There may be a secret weapon in the CFO's battle to stay ahead of globalization and a fast-evolving marketplace filled with complexity and risk. Surprisingly, this weapon has been there all along, an integral part of a company's everyday operations that holds the key to improving working capital and cash flow and better understanding risk. It can even predict revenue and profitability with a far greater degree of certainty than most people ever imagined.

This secret weapon resides in an organization's supply chain. The weapon is in fact the data that can be gleaned from examining the supply chain -- data that serves as a primary source of information that can help forecast a company's revenue outlook. Understanding what factors affect products as they move through a supply chain, and how those factors ultimately impact pricing and customer satisfaction, provides a solid, near real-time model -- a sort of "crystal ball" -- the CFO can use to gain a more accurate idea of market factors affecting the company. Even a single critical component or raw material can significantly impact an organization's entire approach to sourcing and its profitability.