Innovations in Supply Chain Management— Competitive strategy for future - Download pdf
Sometime back I asked a question in our training program on number of matches that we need to play to organize a 7 round knock-out tournament like Wimbledon. All the participants started working by adding matches in each round till final. Actually answer can found in seconds. One has to remember that everyone can win many times but lose only once and in the end there is one person who does not lose. So answer should be simply number of players minus one.
Friends, in the world today most of us trying to solve same problem, i.e. provide customer what he wants and do everything to deliver. Still we find few survive and many others don’t.
History has proven that companies adopting innovative ways to go to market, and then supporting those plans with successful supply chains, can gain competitive advantage quickly. A modern supply chain network might include a mixture of classic manufacturing software packages together with a web-based catalogue, an e-commerce transaction and payment system and so on..
Examples in Supply Chain:
Innovation may take place at the design level, in the kind of supply chain to be adopted, or at the process level deciding how parts of the designed supply chain shall be implemented. Technology may offer opportunities for either or both to be addressed, and supply chains are changing as a result of technology adoption, though perhaps not fast enough in some countries, where over-regulation and an unsupportive infrastructure hinder rather than help.
The important historical lesson here is that with supply chains, innovation is an important accelerator. Today, innovation is all around us. More companies are outsourcing parts of their supply chains, which is an innovative in itself and creates greater innovation by
- Spreading best practices more quickly through centres of excellence
- enabling manufacturers to focus on what they do best-creating and marketing products that companies and people want to buy.
Trends to follow:
The innovations of the future are always a little harder to predict. However, the big supply chain trends that will drive them are:
- The continued movement of more people into urban areas and simultaneously markets expanding to rural areas as well. This can radically alter the depth /width of the supply chain and its complexities calling for changes in the way we collate information and execute orders.
- The rising role of the cloud and digitization of products that once required physical supply chains
- The continued growth and influence of mobile on all facets of our lives
- Social media’s influence
- Huge information base / data available with customers
- Increasing need to provide end-of-life solutions to products that we put in market
I see a lot of potential in that list in terms of innovative new products / services and the supply chain optimizations that will be needed to get them to market ahead of the competition.
Make a beginning today:
Successful innovations require hard work and creative thinking. To move business along the road to supply chain improvement, we can start a journey with some simple ideas illustrated below:
- Changing roles: Take a concept such as “self-serve” operations and apply it to your business. What are you doing for customers that they could do for themselves? Also consider whether there are things that customers would be keen to do, or things you do currently, that customers might do for you. All the web-check in processes as well as electronic fund transfers are examples of this.
- Starting at the end: Outline a current process, and then reverse it. Vendor-managed inventory is a classic example. It was once a retailer’s responsibility to manage inventory; now vendors do it.
- Ask questions - “What if?”: Ask what would happen if you had to design a new way of serving your customers. Or what if you did not have your current infrastructure? The answers to these questions might surprise you— and might lead to some of your best innovations yet. Sharing of infrastructure within competitors has already begun in few sectors
- Starting all over again: If you were redesigning your product or service, what changes would you make? Would those changes affect your personnel? Would they alter your competition? Would they change your customer base, locations, or resources?
- Halve your resources: Allocation decisions define priorities. Budgeting is not an exact science, however, and this exercise defines needs versus “nice-to-haves.” This process will identify preconceived notions, erroneous assumptions, blind spots, and protectionism.
As a summary, supply chains have dynamic natures, multiple moving parts, and situational variables; they are ripe for innovation. Let us demonstrate that the surest path to competitive advantage is through innovation and faster we move on this more certain better for our business.
As always, looking forward to your feedback/suggestions/comments on firstname.lastname@example.org