Must-Know Supply Chain Trends For CEOs

supply chainMost CEOs know that a world-class global supply chain is a major competitive advantage for businesses, but the technology and processes that enable the end-to-end supply chain – and the customer demands that guide it – are changing more rapidly than ever. Here are three supply chain trends you should track to ensure your company can meet today’s (and tomorrow’s) business imperatives.

Emerging Technologies

In a recent survey conducted by the supply chain association MHI, 80 percent of respondents said they believe that the “digital supply chain” will be the predominate model within five years.

And for good reason: digitization is necessary if a company is to leverage all the latest technologies for supply chain excellence. From blockchain to mobility to automation, the digital frameworks of the production and delivery of goods provides more transparency to both businesses and consumers. Forward-thinking CEOs are examining ways to use a more intelligent, data-driven supply chain as their strategic advantage.

“Many industries impacted by rapidly evolving technologies are battling widening talent gaps, and supply chain is no different.”

The result, according a report from PwC, “….will enable companies to react to disruptions in the supply chain, and even anticipate them, by fully modeling the network, creating ‘what-if’ scenarios, and adjusting the supply chain in real time as conditions change.”

The Quest for Talent

Many industries impacted by rapidly evolving technologies are battling widening talent gaps, and supply chain is no different. In fact, some studies have suggested that the demand for supply chain professionals might exceed supply by a ratio of six to one.

Finding supply chain professionals with the right skill sets required to run these highly complex operations is increasingly difficult, especially at the middle and upper management levels. Workers will need creative problem solving skills in addition to strong digital, operational and domain expertise. To meet these demands, CEOs should support a much more agile human resources function – one that doesn’t just hire skilled candidates, but also coaches, develops, and paves defined career paths for them. Increased investment in the upskilling of existing supply chain teams is a decision that will pay off in spades.

Lead the Ecosystem

Companies have already recognized that supply “chains” have evolved into complex, global supply-and-demand “networks.” However, the fast-changing and interweaving business environment have led yet to a new mantra – supply chain “ecosystems,” emphasizing a system’s ability to adapt to its environment, both in physical and virtual worlds. In an ecosystem, a business can realize value from its suppliers and even competitors , implying a shift from either collaborative or competitive relationships to the duality of the two.

CEOs should be aware and supportive of these new mindsets. Encourage your functional leaders to develop a deep understanding of their part in a larger ecosystem to reduce risk, improve customer responsiveness, innovate and market more effectively.

For more detail on this topic, listen to a recent webinar from CorpU and Penn State’s Center for Supply Chain Research – click here to access the recording.