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.
Knowing what you want and how to convey it is only half the battle. There is still an overwhelming number of software vendors to choose from, with differing specialties, many of whom offer variations on the same solutions. With so many options and variables to weigh, how do you qualify vendors based on your priorities and what does it take to earn them a seat at your table?
Here is how I like to approach the process, based on what’s worked for me.
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.
When you think of the supply chain, it’s easy to recall the antiquated notion of a literal chain of command and linear process. The chain begins at Point A, the order, and ends at Point B, the delivery of the product; what happens in between is as predictable and routine as goods flowing down an assembly track. When consumers were generally local and products typically unchanging, it was practical to invest in the same team of partners, routes, and practices.
The breakneck growth of the Internet has radically disrupted that paradigm. The continuous demand for newer, better offerings has shortened product lifecycles and upended the practice of stable partnerships. As dynamic networks are the new normal, technology has emerged to better form and manage these vital relationships.
The prospect of the two leading global economies, the United States and China, pushing beyond the trading of punitive tariffs and into a full-scale trade war is creating a lot of uncertainty. The potential fall out for organizations engaged in global trade could be disastrous. But the desire for managing supply chain disruption, reducing risk, and protecting future profits also creates the drive for improvement that will lead forward-thinking businesses to pursue real-time visibility and control over their supply chains. By adopting supply chain orchestration (SCO) global organizations may be able to reduce some of the uncertainties that comes with these tariffs.