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Future of the "Supply Chain" in Management

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Future of the "Supply Chain" in Management

Future of the "Supply Chain" in Management 

Yesterday, I told you about the innovative concept of an online Supply Chain Conference. I also did tell you t hat I was going to review interesting topics in the coming few days. 

Here’s the first of such articles. This is about a discussion called "The Smarter Supply Chain of the Future". The reason I chose this discussion was because of the issue in focus. We do not know how supply chains are going to morph in the future. 

Companies constantly experiment with new technologies like the "WalMart RFID" venture which is now being implemented in their stores as well. Some of these ideas work while some don’t. 

Yet, it is these ideas that are going to give shape to the "Supply Chain of the Future". In this scenario, it helps to get an insight into what Supply Chain executives all around the world are thinking in terms of future directions of their supply chains.

The first part of the discussion focuses on an IBM survey about what Chief Supply Chain Officers (I wonder where the term came from. I haven’t seen it being used much myself) think are the key issues facing supply chains today. Based on this, the survey plots a ‘map’ that is supposed to lead your supply chain to become future-ready. This is useful folks!! Find the entire presentation embedded below.

Smarter Supply Chain Of Future - An IBM Survey

ISSUES The five biggest issues SCM Executives have pointed out (in order from most important to least) are

Supply Chain Visibility This is by far the biggest concern of executives – and rightly so. Even today, after technology has advanced to the level where truly wondrous things can happen, our supply chains lack a streamlined model that will ensure complete visibility to all nodes of the supply chain. Sure, each company has its own approach to this problem. 

Wal-Mart’s Retail Link and One Network’s hosted solution are two different ways of tackling the same problem. A common goal requires a common solution. 

I wish one of the supply chain leaders would come forward and take the initiative to form a group that can work on an open-source data model that will provide real-time information about product movement across the supply chain.

Risk Management Risk and SCM go hand in hand. The very mention of risk leads us to think about physical damage to goods and the like. More recently, economic and political concerns have become part of the definition of risk. I myself debated on "A new kind of supply chain risk" not too long ago.

Increasing Customer Demands This is the topic that struck me as being ironic. We’re the ones pushing for an "always on" society where all consumer needs are "real-time". 

In the case of information delivery, this need has been satisfied by the advent of new technology and the penetration of the internet. It is but natural that people come to expect increased speeds and reliability in product delivery too. Again… Common goal, common solution is what we’re looking for.

Cost Containment Cutting costs has been on the mind of businesses forever. Today, we’re just looking at the problem differently and finding newer ways of cutting costs while maintaining product and process quality. 

Lean processes are being incorporated into more industries than we had ever imagined. Today, if you’re in the supply chain industry and ask "Who is Deming?", you’re considered ignorant.

Globalization A connected world is seldom a less complex world. Globalization presents a lot of practical challenges. While some companies have grown adept at tackling these problems (this might explain why globalization is at the bottom of the list), others are still struggling.

While looking at these issues and providing a roadmap to the future is a win for all, one thought whose importance simply cannot be overstated is that “Technology is a tool – a means to the end, not the end in itself.”

THE "SUPPLY CHAIN" IN MANAGEMENT Another important aspect about the future is going to be the importance of the “supply chain” in management as a whole. In the past, the sole goal of companies was to be profitable and make the most money for its owners. 

Somewhere down the line, they all started to care about their employees and how a company treated its employees became critical at least from a PR point of view. 

Today, companies have to balance a whole gamut of issues including being "Green", efficiency, CSR, etc., This list is bound to grow in the future with "Supply Chains" becoming more important than ever to companies of the future.

Today, for the first time I came across the term CSCO (Chief Supply Chain Officer). This just restates to me the increasing importance supply chains are getting in today’s marketplace. The future is going to be even more complex. 

We know about the Digital Supply Chain. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. There are other concepts that we’ll invent as we go along. Social Media in supply chains is one such. It certainly is an exciting time in the world of "supply chains" where the future is unknown yet anticipated. 

The only known fact is that "Future Supply Chains" will become more important in the context of management as a whole.

You can listen to the "SCM World Live" discussion from the comfort of your home too. You just need to register (for free) on their website. Let me know what you think about my perspective. Did you listen to the discussion too? What did you think about the conference – Sensation or sham?

Would you like me to cover specific topics in the future?

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