Six megatrends are transforming the traditional ways supply chains func- tion and how they will operate in the future. Three of the trends — agility, the talent shortage and becoming an organization’s trusted advisor — aren’t new. They’ve been hot topics among supply managers for years and
will continue to persist, experts say. Three additional trends — supply managers
as solutions architects, procurement leading innovation and the technological
supply chain — are new paradigms that are evolving.
The six trends are interconnected: Their common denominator is change. Each
trend has the potential to be disruptive as well as transformative, revolutionizing
how supply professionals interact with suppliers and customers, shaping strategies, offering opportunities and affecting the bottom line.
Trends in the Traditional Sense
These three enduring trends will continue to affect supply managers into
Agility. Agility can be defined in many ways — speed, responsiveness, predictability, thinking outside the box. No matter how it is interpreted, being agile is
becoming increasingly important to supply managers as they react to landscape
changes, says Chris Sawchuk, principal and global procurement advisory practice
leader at The Hackett Group in Miami.
Speed is key: Supply managers need to react quickly to the ever-changing
needs of the business, he says. “They can’t just think about how to save money
and ensure supply,” he says. “They have to think about how to react quickly and
appropriately, but at the same time, how to be more predictive about what might
happen in the future.”
The Internet of Things, for example, is going to impact the supply chain in
ways still yet to be determined. It will not only enable organizations to connect
internally and with their suppliers but also with other trade partners and the end
customer, says Sawchuk. One result will be full transparency across the entire
value network, he says. Supply managers will have real-time information about
demand as well as the drivers of that demand to allow for significantly improved
demand forecasting accuracy, he says.
In addition to having speed, supply managers need to become increasingly cus-tomer-centric. “Everything is being driven by the consumer,” says Sean Monahan,
partner and leader of A. T. Kearney’s Chicago-based Americas Strategic Operations
Practice. “Even if I’m in a B2B environment, people are expecting the same things
they see as a consumer: anything, anytime, anywhere.” For example, consumers
want customization: They — as well as suppliers and partners — want products
and experiences that are personalized to them, thus requiring supply managers
to be agile and responsive, he says.
This newfound agility can create new opportunities for supply managers,
says Joe Cavinato, Ph.D., CPSM, C.P.M., professor of supply chain management
at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. In addition to
personalized products and relationships, the possibilities include diversification,
adoption of new technologies and establishment of strategic partnerships with
Six megatrends are reshaping the
supply chain of today and tomorrow.