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).
I recently joined IDC as an analyst covering global supply chain execution and fulfillment strategies, and began by reporting on the difference between maximization and optimization in the end-to-end supply chain: how it’s important to move from the former to the latter, how optimization can only be achieved by viewing the whole ecosystem, and how difficult this has been to do historically. It also explores how a digital transformation (DX) and the promise of interconnectivity and visibility it offers, as well as the intelligence it enables when paired with analytics or AI, make the optimization of large, multi-enterprise, multi-country, multi-industry business networks a viable – and necessary – goal.
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 began the series by stating that simply good isn’t good enough. That in today’s competitive climate, which requires companies to innovate, expand their service or product portfolios, and contemplate what’s next at a faster pace than ever before, satisfaction with incremental gains is a setback. Most companies put off digital transformations because they see the cost as overhead, an expense to avoid, and not a necessity for future survival.
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.
If you’ve been following my series, Making the Case for a Digital Transformation, it’s apparent that such a venture can stretch out over many months – if not longer. Not every business has that kind of time to spare, and you may be asking yourself: “What can I do if I have to get a new platform up and running in the next quarter or two?”
With tacit approval from senior management to pick a solution and spend what it takes (within reason), here’s my advice for fast-tracking your digital transformation.
More than two centuries later and the image of Frankenstein’s monstrous creation still looms large in our collective imagination. Mary Shelley’s timeless piece unfolds the story of a highly gifted scientist who is driven to uncover the secret of life. Using his expansive knowledge and unthinkable feats of engineering, he manages to assemble and animate a creature.
As with so many works of art – and as is so clearly our distinct pleasure – there are many lessons to take away from this tale. Even for supply chain solutions.
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.
Now that the case for a digital transformation has been made and the go ahead given, it’s time for your supply chain software implementation...but don’t think it will be a walk in the park. It’s common to have a bit of friction between company departments – especially during transformations. Stamp out ‘turf battles’ early and map out a plan right away, so you can easily course correct when issues or delays inevitably arise. How you define success will also play a significant role throughout the process – don’t overpromise but strive to overdeliver.
Both the digital transformation and each software provider are multi-faceted, so think of these next stages of the discovery process as ‘peeling back layers of the onion.’ The surface layers involve understanding each vendor’s capabilities and bid components. Slightly deeper are the back-end particulars of the transformation; your team will be focusing on everything from the platform to the financial and commercial terms to ensure the products and services you choose align well with your priorities and that the rollout will be feasible and smooth.
We opened this series by discussing why digital transformation and continuous improvements are critical to long-term success. But once you’ve made this realization, how do you actually make it happen in an effective and streamlined way? Just because you’ve discovered the key to your company’s inefficiencies and the importance of aiming higher doesn’t mean everyone else does. Besides, small to mid-size businesses don’t typically have a dedicated professional or department to oversee the endeavor, so you need to champion internal support.
Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to craft a value proposition for executive sponsorship, then focus on who you should enlist to ensure the endeavor is handled intelligently and without delay.