We live in a highly demanding time. Customers want more, better, faster, and cheaper. Competition is steep, and meeting expectations while innovating and staying profitable can feel like a pipe dream. As supply chain practitioners invest in and leverage robust technology to deliver on ever-increasing demands and complexities, it’s vital that they see past the fads (quick fix solutions) and focus on long-lasting trends (solutions that best align with where the industry is headed).
We spent the year breaking down how today’s supply chain practitioners are under the gun, feeling pressured to run smoother and leaner operations under thinning margins and during the most disruptive time that has ever existed. We’ve noticed that these conditions have spawned a sense of urgency for quick and easy fixes.
However, we also discussed how, much like lasting happiness, fulfillment, and self-actualization, there are no quick fixes in the journey toward industry leadership. Rather, it requires a thoughtful digital transformation to establish a firm foundation on which new processes and innovations can effectively flourish.
As we close out this year, here are three key takeaways for cultivating a lasting transformation and supply chain success.
We talk a lot about digital transformations and how vital they are to stay ahead. But transformations are about more than staying technologically up-to-date and relevant, they’re about adopting a new mindset and revolutionizing the way you do business.
From practical guidance to contemplating the bigger picture, here are a few quick tips from those who have proven to know what they’re doing.
It’s no surprise that there’s a growing interest in transportation management solutions. Transportation is at the heart of supply chain operations, and as more companies expand their products and services to conquer new markets, the more they run up against the limitations of their legacy systems.
While there’s a broad array of Transportation Management Systems (TMS) options on the market, according to Gartner’s Model for Holistic Multimodal Transportation Management Systems: Core Capabilities, few vendors “have solutions that can successfully and cost-effectively support all levels of transportation complexity.”
At its core, today’s transportation management solution must at least be holistic and multi-modal. But what does that really mean, and how can you better assess your level of transportation complexity and whether a given solution will adequately support it?
The idea of innovation might sound enticing, but few are willing to take the associated risks in changing course. Treading lightly has its advantages, but the line between ‘careful’ and ‘cripplingly cautious’ can be thin, especially in such a highly competitive world.
Here are a few signs you might be letting fear get the best of you.
The supply chain is always evolving, but since the advent of the Internet, its transformation has been unique, its challenges unprecedented. With e-commerce came greater market demands and competitive pressures. And as businesses adapted to these new realities, expanding their reach abroad and forming multi-enterprise networks, they found that managing these new opportunities introduced its own set of unprecedented challenges and complexities.
While the industry has coped so far by slowly modernizing and upgrading the various components of the old Transportation Management System (TMS) framework, we have reached a point in which this framework is no longer viable. By continuing to maintain it, businesses risk stagnating future progress. The Order-Centric TMS was built for the modern supply chain; it moves beyond the conventional model to provide unprecedented levels of flexibility and dynamism.
We’ve discussed how Maslow’s personal growth paradigm applies to industry leadership, as well as how it translates to a digital transformation strategy and reach those heights. Within the step-by-step journey we’ve mapped, your business may be well on its way to self-actualization, propelled to leadership by strategically leveraging some of the most innovative technologies. But, in the grand scheme of things, what does it all mean, and where are we ultimately headed?
Here we place the industry’s ambitions into context, taking a brief look at how digitization shook the paradigm, where new innovations are taking us, and what it means for the ever-evolving supply chain to be growing toward its own state of ‘actualization.’
We began discussing the industry’s most popular jargon: the ‘buzzwords’ you see and hear everywhere, proselytized as a panacea for all, and the staple of everyone’s brand – though often defined quite differently depending on who you talk to.
Running a supply chain business is harder and more complex than ever, and with customer standards soaring, it’s easy to want a quick and simple answer to overcoming your greatest challenges.
Your time is valuable, so we’ve done the legwork for you. Let’s continue our journey through the fluff to mine the nuggets of truth in a few more buzzy promises.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that the industry is saturated with certain jargon. These ‘buzzwords’ soar to fashionable stardom and contain a certain, undeniable ring that excites hope the way a Pavlovian bell triggers hungry pups to salivate. These words are plastered everywhere: proselytized as a panacea for all, and they’re quick to become the staple of everyone’s brand – though everyone seems to define them differently.
If you’ve been buying into them, fear not. You’re not a dilettante and you’re far from alone. Hope and utopia are powerful platforms to run on, and in this increasingly complex and pressure-filled moment that’s glutted with choice, it’s absolutely understandable to want an easy, shiny answer to your biggest problems.
While not all answers are necessarily easy, getting down to the root of where buzzwords have gone astray can be. Here are a few of the most salient examples of jargon-gone-awry and how to see through the fluff.
Mention ‘supply chain Control Tower’ to anyone in the industry and they’ll nod in recognition. Ask anyone to define it and you’re likely to get a slightly different answer from nearly every person you ask. Why is that?
Software providers often latch the term onto different capabilities, depending on what sector or area of the supply chain they’re intending to address. Moreover, most control towers simply provide visibility and leave much to be desired about control, or actionability. They show users what’s going on (often in a limited scope of the supply chain) and if any corrective actions need to be taken, users tend to have to log in elsewhere to execute them. This also means that your corrective actions are only as good, timely, informed, and comprehensive as the system through which you’re mediating.
With all the technology being promoted, it’s incredibly challenging for companies to effectively weed through the noise and find a robust solution that will actually help with its full range of needs. Here’s a quick and practical guide to simplify the process.
When thinking about rigidity in the supply chain, it’s common to call out the usual suspects – ahem, spreadsheets – that are routinely blamed for making management less flexible. Less noticeable, however, are the historical boundaries that restrict even the most modern, cloud-based, digital solutions.
Cloud and SaaS technologies have made extraordinary strides toward breaking the systemic and spatial boundaries that otherwise limit effective, networked collaboration. And yet, many of the most progressive platforms and software are draped over the stiff bones of outdated frameworks.
The modern supply chain is capable of so much more than these constricting scaffoldings allow. Here are a few of the secret places where silos and rigidity linger.
We recently discussed how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (the psychological stages of human growth) applied to the supply chain (business growth within the industry). This evolution is closely linked with a digital transformation, which itself can be mapped according to a similar journey of fulfillment.
The guiding principles are the same: growth requires building one fundamental layer at a time in order to achieve full potential. Just as businesses must build their capabilities and networks one stage at a time, so too does a digital transformation strategy require various upgrades in technology and innovation to enable new business models through previously unimaginable functionality.
Fans of Star Wars are familiar with the concept of the Force: an energy field that can be tapped into, that gives a Jedi their power. In the supply chain universe, the Force is like the inevitable progress of technology. A seemingly limitless pool of potential we tap into and are empowered by to not only better handle the pressures and challenges of the ever-evolving industry, but to pioneer that very change and transform the world as we know it.
Chances are you’re familiar with the renown Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The psychological theory attempts to map out the stages of human growth, starting with physiological needs, like food, shelter, and safety, and moving onward and upward to love, belonging, esteem, until culminating in self-actualization.
The hierarchy is conceived as a pyramid with the basic needs at the bottom; to advance, you must first meet the requirements of the previous level. In other words, starvation takes precedence over safety. Most won’t have the bandwidth to sustain meaningful relationships if they feel unsafe, and they probably won’t reach their full potential if they lack self-esteem.
The same can be said about a business’s growth and development.