The role of supply chains is rapidly changing, driven by a global business movement towards digitisation. Most companies regardless of size are seeking to transform their supply chain functions, with varying degrees of success, as they struggle to keep astride with an onslaught of digital trends that are disrupting traditional supply chain management.
The speed of change is overwhelming, especially for those that are not digital natives. This narrative is not made any easier by the hype surrounding buzzwords such as digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, machine learning, advanced analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).
A recent Survey by Bain & Company indicates that 70% of executives anticipate digital innovation to have a substantial impact on their supply chains during the next five years, up from just 63% in 2016. However, it is important to note that not all organisations are ready for a drastic digital transformation, and should indeed begin with building the basics first. A move which would be mandatory for success, as opposed to jumping to stage four or five maturity overnight.
Digital strategies should never be based on the latest and greatest technology. On the contrary, selecting the technology is indeed the last step of transformation. Digital transformation begins with aligning the business and operating models with the organisations vision for the future, followed by reviewing the people and processes behind them. Supply chains have become a competitive device for businesses, driving savings and increasing efficiency from all-round.
The people running the supply chains are just as much of a competitive advantage, and will only become more valuable as future innovations emerge. When employees face potential displacement due to artificial intelligence in supply chain, machine learning and autonomous decision-making, the solution is to nurture them, assess talent gaps and work with Human Capital to redesign the roles of the future to prepare talent for today and recruit for tomorrow.
Supply chains are evolving, it is inevitable, and will be most effective when implemented on a firm foundation that supports the business strategy as well as the talent behind it.