Synchronise for success

A new report rethinks supply chain management for the digital age, with four steps for designing a cutting-edge supply chain.

In today’s digital age, no business can afford to stand still. With the technological landscape changing almost daily, companies need to be more fleet-of-foot than ever.

Digitisation is ushering in a radical shift in consumption patterns and consumer expectations. Purchases are made at the click of a button. Deliveries are geo-tracked to the nearest metre. And a critical tweet can be shared around the world in milliseconds. If businesses are to stay ahead, they must be agile and shift with the times. Do so and an array of new business opportunities lie ahead. Don’t and your business will quickly become yesterday’s news.

Let’s be frank: "fleet-of-foot" is not a description very often attached to supply chain management, which is all too often caricatured as the oil tanker of business operations: inert, unresponsive and slow to change direction. Such a stereotype is hardly fair. Supply chain directors are constantly alert to the pressure on them to reduce costs and streamline supply functions. In today’s digital age, however, that’s a daunting task. Demand is 24/7. Orders are subject to constant change. Most supply chain teams find themselves having to run simply to stand still.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Progress is possible. Just as digital tools such as smartphone shopping and automated ordering are advancing at incredible pace, so too are supply-side digital solutions. Developments in data capability, cloud computing power, machine learning, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robots, to name but a few, offer supply chain directors a way forward.

New technologies can help digitally connect supply chain functions, leading to better synchronisation of supply with demand. With smoother-running supply chains comes the promise of space to think, plan and proactively manage. An end to constant firefighting, in other words, and a chance to get on the front foot.

In Concentra's recently published report, Synchronise for Success: Rethinking Supply Chain Management for a Digital Age, we focus on four steps for designing a cutting-edge supply chain fit for the digital world.

Firstly, companies should better consolidate, analyse and put to use the data they already have to create a truly holistic and meaningful view. Secondly, supply chain managers need to shift from responding to demand to governing how demand is placed on their operations. Complete these first two steps and companies are ready to drive new levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Finally, operations can move from the periphery of discussions about business strategy and corporate competitiveness to the heart of the debate.

The digital transformation of today’s supply chains is already upon us. Noone can be 100 per cent sure what the future holds. But every company will be affected, for better or for worse. Embracing this reality now and adapting to it intelligently is the surest way to position yourself in the first camp, not the second.


You can read the full Synchronise for Success report on the Concentra website.