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.
A Recap of our Metrics
We’ve divided the chosen buzzwords into two sections: The Hook – which refers to the catchy promise or sentiment the word elicits. At their core, buzzwords point to real problems and hopes, so it’s important to recall what gave them potency to begin with.
Next, we consider: What do you really want and how do you find it? Here we discuss where to be skeptical, so you can separate the jargon from your brand’s legitimate needs and determine how these ideas can fit into real and practical perspectives and solutions.
The Hook: The desire to simplify processes, initiate immutable, digital record-keeping, and…well, ‘everything else,’ according to the excessive amounts of proclaimed solutions out there.
Where to be skeptical: The World Economic Forum has created a ‘Beyond the Hype’ decision tree that is the best and most practical on the topic. Follow along and see where you land; full disclosure: most roads lead to dead-ends or ‘needs more research and development’-type outcomes. Ultimately, it’s wiser to go for the more established and time-tested solutions for the problems you’re facing. Need to simplify processes? Maybe a simple digital, cloud, or automated tech is all you need. Do you have difficulty collaborating with your multi-party network? An end-to-end supply chain control tower for one version of the truth may suffice. Go for less risky solutions to satisfy your most urgent necessities while you wait for such newer (and not so universally applicable) innovations to mature.
The Hook: You want to be the game-changer and/or you have PTSD from the possibility that others can upend your whole game at any moment.
Where to be skeptical: If you want to be a game-changer, you have to take risks. On rare occasions there’s an element of genius involved, but really, it all just boils down to risk. So, if the word inspires a certain dread and pressure to be one of the first to hijack a new tech or idea, rest assured that doing so, especially if rash, could backfire. Employing a flexible, agile framework that is conducive to trial and error is all you really need to “disrupt” – if not the world, then your customers’ expectations, as well as your own processes – which in today’s high-speed reality, are quick to stale. An easily adaptable platform also ensures that if your ‘biggest fears’ come to fruition and a competitor disrupts, you’re also in a better position to change course and rethink your approach with ease and minimal cost.
The Hook: The desire to revolutionize the way you do business, so that processes are faster, more efficiently, and yield a higher profit with greater customer satisfaction.
Where to be skeptical: That hook is a tall order, and few technologies actually deliver on that promise in an all-encompassing way. Adding robotics and automation will speed up that branch of your supply chain, but what about the rest? Most innovations fix leaks; if you want to fully transform the way you do business, think about the overarching structure. Consider what made truly transformative tech – like the cloud and SaaS – so revolutionary and paradigm-shifting.
These upgrades modernized processes and revamped the entire infrastructure for end-to-end speed and efficiency, allowing businesses to thrive while delighting their customers with new and never before imagined services and conveniences. Imagine if the Transit Authority beautified stations rather than focusing on fixing rickety rails and signal failures; you’d have a mutiny of disenfranchised riders. Prioritize the foundation of your end-to-end supply chain and think in more holistic terms. Are most of your technologies outdated? Is there a standard across your enterprise? How silo-free and high-functioning is your supply chain? How well are you able to orchestrate and optimize each order? Only when these areas are secure should you start layering your robust supply chain with incrementally enhancing features and innovations.
As brands continue to differentiate themselves according to the solutions and hot topics they feel the industry values most, these terms will keep getting diluted. The most successful companies are those that don’t get caught up in waves of unfounded hope or hysteria but focus on what always has and always will matter most: uniquely serving the market as effectively and profitably as possible.
Don’t let yourself be pressured into superfluous solutions by doomsday scenarios (like fear of disruption). While uncertainty and the need for supply chain flexibility might be a genuine concern, it’s worth stepping away from the frantic discussion to determine what a sustainable, long-term, effective and practical solution – or even ‘transformation’ – should look like for your unique business needs.