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Better connections and visibility are increasingly common twin goals for many companies at every step of the supply chain, and technology is doing more all the time to make these objectives realistic. The internet of things, in particular, provides the kind of visibility companies have longed for, and because the rates of adoption for such tech is only beginning to gain steam, the impact on the supply chain could be massive.

There are already tens of billions of IoT-enabled devices in circulation worldwide - though obviously not all are used in the supply chain specifically - and that number could more than triple by 2025, according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive. As companies find new avenues with these devices to collect data, they are also willing to share that data with their partners at every step of the supply chain, and as these kinds of investments and decisions gain momentum, more visibility comes to these processes. That, in turn, will enable greater efficiency and better decision-making.

"There is a movement, or an evolution, that is occurring in the manufacturing space where customers are becoming more and more demanding to have access to that data," David Gustovich, senior director of Manufacturing Center of Excellence and the former founder and CEO of IQity Solutions, told the site. "The market is responding."

Visibility requires buy-in at every step of the supply chain.Visibility requires buy-in at every step of the supply chain.
Better connections
One of the big stumbling blocks with respect to broader adoption is the fact that connection speeds and capacity just aren't great enough along entire supply chains to truly give great insights for all involved, according to Supply Chain Dive. However, with the advent of 5G connections, that might become a thing of the past; the majority of companies now plan to use 5G technology by the end of 2020.

While many service providers may not be in a position to keep up with that pace, having the infrastructure in place throughout the supply chain will certainly be a boon for any company that wants to be among the first to at least get a foot in the door, the report said. This will likely take some strategic planning and will certainly require investment, but any such effort would likely prove fruitful in the years ahead.

Other considerations
The reason the logistics industry as a whole is changing so much is because consumers' preferences are evolving rapidly, according to Coresight Research. The more that can be done to ensure orders are fulfilled within a 24-hour period of being completed is likely to be the industry's next great leap forward in terms of meeting consumer expectations. Some companies are pushing the envelope even further now, aiming for same-day delivery whenever possible; they will require IoT and 5G at the very least to make that happen.

Certainly, supply chain executives should strive to understand their needs and the options available to them as time goes on, because true visibility into operations requires buy-in from all involved.

I am sure you've all heard the big announcement by now. Today, November 12, 2019, Disney+ is released and millions of fans will have access to all of the wonderful Disney (and Disney owned) content from over the years. This will surely excite fans of the classics like Lion King and Toy Story, but also those who revel in the new age marvels like The Avengers. Disney drives to reinvent the way they distribute content to fans of all ages by going modern and introducing a state of the art streaming platform.

If a business, organization, product, or even an idea is to remain relevant, it must adapt to the times. Disney+ is far from the first streaming provider that only offers content from their own making or ownership. HBO, BET, and a multitude of other platforms all do the same thing. The competition driving this trend gives consumers more of a choice and gives businesses a leg up over others IF they can do it well. As an avid media consumer, my only hope is that I don’t end up with 8+ subscriptions to keep tabs on my favorite content.

But what about other spaces? And because this is a procurement blog, what about procurement? It’s time that we start doing things differently, too. And that’s just what the Chicago Chapter of ISM’s Emerging Leaders Committee aims to do.

On the day before Halloween, October 30th, 2019, the Emerging Leaders group held their first event, “Bridging the Talent Gap.” The city atmosphere was rainy and a bit dreary, but the facilities of HERE Technologies featured a welcoming environment, sophisticated décor, and (obviously) state of the art technology. Marie Mensah, a seasoned consultant in the procurement field, took the stage and gave a wonderful presentation focused on the career development of sourcing professionals. A panel discussion with industry experts soon followed. The session ended with an interactive breakout activity of group work and presentations by the event attendees. You can find more about what happened here.

This event answered some serious questions about Procurement. And no, it wasn’t about best practices or sourcing strategies. It answered, “What do rising experts want from a professional organization?”

Through a comprehensive survey (and candid conversation over happy hour drinks), we found some great gems to share with you.

1. More representation and diversity

Representation and diversity mean a lot of things here. First, let’s start with the obvious. The world is becoming more diverse and Chicago is a hub for that representation. The panel consisted of individuals from different backgrounds and origins. But the panel was also split well between men and women. Furthermore, the room was filled with a wide range of industries. Manufacturing, Finance, Technology, Healthcare, and many others found tremendous value in the event. In addition, roles expanded beyond just procurement.

Using what we learned, we can adapt our roadmap for the future. For future events, we will strive to involve a diverse set of industry experts and include more than the traditional procurement role. This will feature activities that individuals in Audit, Finance, Vendor Management, and Project Management will benefit from and enjoy. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, says, “A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

2. More hands-on learning at events

The highlight for many attendees was the workshop and presentations during the event. The opportunity to work together with other professionals, share and debate ideas, and then present to the broader audience is the precise level of engagement participants want from an educational/development event.

Moving forward, more events will be focused on hands-on activities and workshops. Part of our goals will be to focus on attendee participation and direct learning outcomes that put learning material into practice. This comes from the well-known quote, “Tell Me and I Forget; Teach Me and I May Remember; Involve Me and I Learn.”

Future events will put attendees in real situations. Imagine participants being able to provide material procurement advice to small businesses around Chicago or influence large corporations or governmental policies based on the results of an ISM workshop or event.

A fascinating part of this practice is that it follows the best parts of the CPSM certification learning track.

3. More brews! I mean…. networking

To put it bluntly, people are shy. But also, by overwhelming amounts, people want to network. Many see networking as one of the most valuable tools to advance their career, often saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” And this is true. LinkedIn’s massive success is due to the shared desire to build professional networks. It’s one of the purest ways to share expertise while engaging in meaningful interaction.

Work Hard, Play Hard. After spending a few hours learning or workshopping an idea or concept, unwinding over drinks and hors d’oeuvres is the perfect ending to the day. This not only allows for the wonderful enjoyment of signature cocktails, but also creates the ideal space for expanding on that great topic from earlier, pitching something completely new to listening ears, or showing off that neat new party trick you’ve been waiting to display.

The ISM Emerging Leaders Committee aims to do something different here in Chicago and inspire innovation across the globe. We welcome creativity and listen to what the budding professionals want. We are resolute in driving engagement through diverse representation, interactive activities, and meaningful networking.

Please contact ISM Chicago if you are interested in joining the team.
Managing a warehouse is never easy, but it doesn't have to be quite so challenging. Check out our tips for establishing and sustaining a world-class warehouse. You'll enjoy the benefits of optimal workflows, manageable inventories, and transparent communication - and that's just the start.

Forecasting is everything in Supply Chain Management. Organizations can't serve their customers, meet their goals, or even keep the lights on without looking ahead and planning accordingly. Supply forecasting, for example, helps organizations determine how and when they'll receive the products and components they need. Demand forecasting helps them distribute their own products effectively and avoid getting bogged down in uncertainty and excess inventory.

Organizations in certain regions and industries depend on forecasts of a more literal sort. Extreme weather - an increasingly common issue - wreaks havoc on shipping lanes and supply networks every year. As natural disasters become more frequent and more destructive, Procurement professionals are hard at work identifying solutions and strategies that will make it possible to accurately predict such risk factors.

Procurement Must Become Predictive

Unsurprisingly, Deloitte's latest CPO survey found that Procurement teams are uneasy heading into a new decade. The list of risks facing the function includes new entries like "economic downturn" and "trade war" as well as perennial challenges related to internal complexity and digital fragmentation.

Even early adopters are struggling. 81% of organizations who've fully adopted digital Procurement technologies are still unsatisfied with their ability to address risks across their supply base. This suggests that perhaps organizations have put too much faith in their tools, implementing new technology without effectively training their teams and providing for quick adoption.

On paper at least, CPOs are committed to closing the analytical skills gap to make more predictive, accurate forecasting a reality. 43% identified "predictive analytics" as their primary focus when it comes to nurturing digital skills in the next twelve months. They've got a long road ahead. Digital skills gaps like this one are widely acknowledged as perhaps the most pressing challenge facing today's Procurement teams. As markets grow increasingly volatile, technology grows increasingly mature, and consumers grow increasingly discerning, they'll need to close these gaps both quickly and definitively.

Consumers Want Action, Not Forecasts

Procurement teams that fail to make accurate forecasts and take proactive action also run the risk of alienating consumers who have grown increasingly conscious of supply chain ethics and environmental responsibility. There is little patience for organizations that drag their feet on topics like climate change and human rights. Even companies like Amazon - who recently made ambitious promises to leverage electric vehicles and address deforestation - have seen consumers express cynicism and disdain. Just a day after that announcement, Amazon saw thousands of its workers take to the street for the Global Climate March. Many held signs with slogans like, "Good start, Jeff." The message is clear: forecasts and predictions won't cut it anymore. 

Even more proactive organizations have learned that forecasts can be a double-edged sword. In October, both Nestle and Procter & Gamble announced that they would fail to meet many of the goals they set at the start of the decade. Both consumer products giants promised to fully eliminate deforestation across their global supply chains before 2020. Though both made considerable progress thanks to visibility-boosting technology, they will enter the new decade with work to do.  

Sweeping promises have become de rigueur for businesses hoping to win over customers and stand on the right side of important issues. P&G and Nestle, however, present a cautionary tale. Organizations that can't live up to their promises, can't make their forecasts a reality, run the risk of disappointing their customers and even damaging their reputations. It's possible that organizations will think more carefully before revealing the details of their forecasts and action plans.

Procurement's Decade Ahead

Check out the rest of our series on the trends and topics that will define Procurement in 2020 and throughout the next decade:

When businesses are trying to get a handle on their supply chain efficiency, one of the biggest areas for improvement is security. Simply put, too many companies see it as a component of their operations, but may not ascribe it the importance it necessarily deserves. There are many different components to such an effort, and all of them may need an extra look for any firm to truly control its various supply chains.

Among these issues is the increased threat of a hacking attack, which have become more prominent as hackers around the world get a better understanding of the potential value these targets provide, according to CSO Online. In the past several months alone, a number of major companies both in the U.S. and abroad have been hit with attacks, and government agencies the world over are becoming more proactive in fining affected businesses above and beyond the financial obligations that come with remediating such an attack.

Hackers pose a grave threat to supply chains.Hackers pose a grave threat to supply chains.
This issue is a particular problem for companies that partner with third-party service providers and other outside businesses - a crucial part of many supply chains, to be sure, the report said. Even if everything is in order with a company's own security issues, it can be difficult or even impossible to enjoy such certainties when it comes to partners at any given step of the supply chain. However, all necessary efforts must be undertaken to get as much assurances as possible around supply chain security.

A bird's-eye view
The more companies can do to get a handle on third-party attacks, which by some estimates have risen by as much as 50% in recent years, the better off they will be as it relates to mitigating hacking risk, according to Infosecurity Magazine. While all involved will have to accept a certain amount of delegation in this regard, a concentrated group effort throughout the supply chain will at least provide more visibility into all aspects of risk and operations, which may be key to spotting potential vulnerabilities.

This is, of course, a complex and potentially costly process, but more buy-in from all participants
provides not only the security those involved need, but also reduced risk of accruing the expenses associated with a data breach cleanup effort and potentially greater regulatory oversight, the report said. In many cases, this may require collaboration, spelling out goals and so on, but the end result would typically yield peace of mind and cost certainty.

What's being done?
Today, those in a position of authority have a greater understanding of the threat they face and are willing to invest appropriately to address it, according to the new Future of the Supply Chain survey from Vuealta. More than 4 in 5 U.S. businesses now believe the increasing complexity of the supply chain poses a risk, and more than half have at least five other companies in those processes. Not surprisingly, more than 2 in 5 say they are relying on new technology to help insulate them from risk.

The more your company can do to identify threats and move to address them collectively, the better off all involved will be.

ICYMIM: November 11, 2019

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check-in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.

Supply Chain Transparency Critical to Slowing Down the Amazon Deforestation
Franco Vessio, Future of Sourcing, 11/7/2019
The largest rainforest in the world, which is home to over 3 million species of plants and animals, has suffered from over 72,000 fire outbreaks just in 2019. While the catastrophes don't seem to be slowing down, businesses such as H&M and the VF corporation are halting sourcing from the country. Franco Vessio explains how businesses are becoming more and more of the deforestation issue and its impact on the climate issue.

Onshoring vs. Offshoring: 4 Indications the Tide is Turning in Manufacturing
Jim Quinn, Future of Sourcing, 11/06/2019
U.S. companies are unsure how the trade war will continue and with the threat of even more tariffs, they need a plan. Generational trends are also causing major shifts in workforce patterns and manufacturing is seeing a shortage of factory workers.  Jim Quinn will demonstrate how tariffs, employees, and other factors like innovation are changing manufacturing for good.

The Potential and Risks of Cryptocurrency in Procurement 
Kelly Barner, Buyers Meeting Point, 10/28/2019
Blockchain is a Procurement buzzword and many associate blockchain technologies with bitcoin. So does cryptocurrency play a role in procurement? If so, other cryptocurrency projects have indicated this might be a risky path to follow. Kelly Barner paints a picture of what the relationship with cryptocurrency and procurement might look like. 

This winter, high-level procurement executives will gather in Coral Gables, Florida for the Consero Group's Procurement & Strategic Sourcing Forum. Throughout the three day event, they'll exchange insights on topics including the growing role of data science in Procurement, emerging technologies, and the future of the workforce. 

On Day 2, Corcentric Director Anthony Mignona will moderate a panel on tail spend management. The session, titled Effectively Managing Tail Spend, includes thought leaders from organizations including Herman Miller, Scholastic, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. They'll share the strategies they've employed to turn tail spend from an afterthought to a source of strategic value. 

To learn more about historical approaches to tail spend management - and strategies for handling it more effectively check out Anthony Mignona's recent appearance on our podcast.

This guest blog comes to us from Heather Redding of Daxima.

As artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and machine learning continue to evolve, autonomous vehicles are becoming increasingly likely.

Automobile manufacturers aren't just designing autonomous vehicles to help people reduce the stress they face on the road. The right automated vehicles have the potential to reduce accidents by improving driver safety and reaction times too.

With so many benefits to offer, it's no wonder that countless manufacturers are investing heavily in the potential of self-driving technology.

So, when can we look forward to being chauffeured around town by AI-enhanced vehicles connected through 5G?

What's next for the age of the driverless car? Here are a few predictions.

1. Assistance Will Come Before Autonomy

Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days, offering insights into the supply chain, and guidance on procurement, monitoring security in businesses and your health too.

There's a big difference between a car that can provide you with helpful information on the go, and one that can do all of your driving for you.

We're still a long way away from fully-autonomous cars, particularly because new systems and regulatory rules will need to be put into place to allow for automated cars.

In the meantime, manufacturers will need to focus on assistance, over autonomy, in the form of in-car voice control developments and automated assistants behind the wheel.

Voice is quickly emerging as the interface of the future for drivers. Voice is safe and easy to use, and it means that we can keep our eyes on the road.

With intelligent data analytics and real-time insights, voice-based assistants can start to simplify the driving experience by offering personalized guidance and information on the move. Expect your robotic cars to be driving helpers, before they take the wheel. 

2. Apps Will Increase in Value

As intelligent assistants continue to make their way into the car control system, manufacturers will also need to invest in connections with a wider range of app developers, to help them offer more features and information.

For instance, real-time location data is one of the major focuses of many of the emerging trends in the autonomous driving space.

By 2020, the global in-car infotainment market will be worth $35 billion. This rise in value is being powered by things like augmented reality, mixed reality, the internet of things, and other tools that change the way that passengers and drivers interact with the world.

Just as manufacturers will need to change their strategies for the future of autonomous vehicles, app developers will need to think more carefully about serving this growing market and how they can create their apps for enhancing driving experience.

Everything from navigation apps to entertainment tools will need to be designed with the new car tech, connectivity, and requirements of the drivers in mind.

3. Security Continues to Be a Pressing Issue

Security concerns are one of the biggest factors for any business or manufacturer investing in autonomous vehicles. There are two types of security that businesses will need to consider.
  •  The first type addresses the safety of the vehicle occupants, where artificial intelligence takes the wheel.
  • The second type addresses the problem of potential cyber attacks that could put tech-based drivers at risk.
The safety of autonomous cars will continue to be the thing that makes or breaks the future of autonomous driving. 

Self-driving vehicles simply won't be able to gain wider adoption until they can guarantee the security of passengers, as well as pedestrians.

Geolocation and advanced analytical tools are starting to offer helpful ways for autonomous cars to sense the environment around them, however there's still a great deal of work to be done. 

4. Extended Connectivity and Communication

To a certain extent, creating a safe autonomous car begins with connecting with the right developers and innovators during the vehicle supply chain.

Automotive connectivity is now one of the biggest technological pillars that self-driving cars are reliant on. Communication and connectivity are crucial to ensure that the roads are secure in the future.

Today's manufacturers need to think about how they can use AI in cars to make quicker, and more accurate decisions. For instance, this might involve investment in: 
  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication: Helping cars interact with each other on the roads, therefore improving safety, speeding up travel times, and helping to predict traffic situations. General Motors introduced this concept for the first time in 2017, and it has continued to be developed since then.
  • Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communication: Using 5G networks and IoT, vehicle to infrastructure communication allows connected vehicles to exchange data with the surroundings, which could help to coordinate traffic speeds with road locations and maximize fuel economy.
Enhanced systems for communication between vehicles and infrastructure will create better environments for driving and keep drivers and pedestrians safe on the roads.

5. The Rise of Blockchain

For many manufacturers with technology in their infrastructure, blockchain has become a crucial buzzword. Valuable for the management of data and the control of the supply chain, blockchain can transform the way that we think about autonomous cars.

In the future, experts predict that blockchain will make a significant difference to the safety issues of driverless cars, by making it easier to aggregate large amounts of data from vehicle owners that fleet managers and manufacturers can use.

With security at the core, blockchain also protects the system under the hood of the modern autonomous vehicle, preventing tampering, malfunctions, and attacks.

The ability to analyze data via blockchain will be a huge boon going forward. At the same time, the use of blockchain promotes smart contracts, which is another growing trend for autonomous vehicles.

Smart contracts help to regulate financial, logistic, and legislative communication in the vehicle manufacturing world. The contracts on the blockchain could even allow autonomous cars to send requests straight to suppliers for new parts and solutions.

Blockchain-based smart cars could autonomously pay for parking and tolls on behalf of drivers.

What's Next for Autonomous Driving?

The automotive industry is continuing to evolve at a record pace, providing that self-driving cars won't be relegated to sci-fi stories forever.

Companies around the world are beginning to invest in more of the tools and solutions that could make autonomous driving a reality for the masses.

Starting with intelligent cars, we'll see the rise of a new way of driving in the months to come.

Heather Redding is a technology writer for Daxima, enterprise software development company. She loves to geek out writing about apps, wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Her Twitter is @heatheraredding.

Last week, Chicago Supply Chain professionals gathered to network and discuss the future of the Procurement function in a panel discussion. Bridging the Talent Gap -  organized by ISM-Chicago's Emerging Leaders Committee - addressed the skills and strategies that will drive Procurement and Supply Management's next generation.  Five expert panelists shared best practices and answered questions about how professionals can refine their skills and close Procurement's numerous talent gaps. Corcentric’s Brandon Hummons, who serves as chair of the Emerging Leaders Committee, called the event “interactive” and its conversations“forward-thinking”. 

“The Emerging Leaders Committee, as a team, learned so much about what young ISM members want and what they'll need to excel in their professions," Hummons remarks. "We are driven and committed to fulfilling that need.” 

Hummons and the rest of the Committee hoped that the discussion would encourage attendees to view the talent gap as an opportunity. They believe they succeeded; adaptability and ongoing education were themes of the night.

There’s a gap in the procurement and only the most successful emerging leaders will take those extra steps to close it. Supply chain talent is in high demand but according to Fronetics, 51 % of companies within the SCM industry are seeing an increase in turnover of supply chain leaders. This is potentially a great opportunity for young leaders to rise to the cause and build next-generation Procurement teams. Where can businesses find these young leaders?  The nation's top SCM programs could be the perfect place to start.

The group will continue to inspire emerging SCM professionals with future networking and thought leadership events. Check the Strategic Sourceror for updates.

Zilingo is a fashion technology platform that was founded in 2015 in Singapore. The vision of the company is to use technology to put responsible and efficient business practices at the reach of businesses and consumers. Their services include but are not limited to software, supplier resourcing, digital catalog, and private label.

Zilingo sees the importance of having a strong supply chain and is working towards expanding and improving theirs. They are investing $100 million USD in order to digitally transform the fashion supply chain. Their goal is to make it easier for brands to source and sell, and removing the industry stigma of favoring a select few suppliers. This new supply chain will also increase transparency, which they believe will lead to more sustainable practices being implemented. Since Zilingo is a technology company, they have the resources necessary to support their desire of speeding up apparel sourcing through digitized entrenched manual processes. Along with technology improvements, the sourcing process will be faster due to the elimination of middlemen. By removing middlemen, the process will not only be faster but it will help grow profit margins.

Although Zilingo is a relatively new company, they have proven they are a force to reckon with. Their platform includes 60,000 retailers and 6,000 factories. They also currently span 17 countries, but they are working towards furthering their business in the US and expanding into Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Zilingo is currently valued at around $970 million USD and at the beginning of 2019, they were able to raise $226 million USD in order to fund their expansion plans.

Based on this information, it seems Zilingo is a company we are going to start hearing more about. Not only will we see the brand in articles, we will start to see their company unfold as they expand into our territory. Zilingo is set to make striking changes in the fashion industry.

The external risk factors facing global supply chains are evolving and making almost daily headlines. Topics like the tariffs, trade disputes, and corporate ethics are giving even Procurement and Supply Chain novices a sense of how important these functions are - and how risky things have gotten for them.

Risk was a prominent theme for this year's Deloitte Global CPO Survey. Asked to identify the top risks facing their organizations, CPOs pointed to a number that did not rank highly in previous surveys. Most notably, these included an economic downturn, the ongoing trade war, and Brexit uncertainty. When it comes to addressing these financial risks, Deloitte reports that CPOs are mostly "practicing patience as these issues play out in the larger political landscape." They've opted for small adjustments and incremental action rather than sweeping changes to their supply chains.

Small action won't work for much longer when it comes to environmental risk factors. Climate change forecasts are increasingly dire and people around the world are increasingly vocal about the issue. Companies who fail to take action - in a timely, transparent manner - face a number of economic, reputational, and even existential risks as they enter the new decade.

For many, the demands for action aren't just coming from outside factors like consumers and governments. Many corporate giants have seen their own employees and investors call for more responsible, ethical, and environmentally responsible operations.

Employees Call for Change

In the days leading up to the Global Climate Strike, both Amazon and Google revealed ambitious plans to take environmental action. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged to meet the Paris Climate Agreement's goals a full decade early, invest in reforestation, and purchase 100,000 electric vehicles. Google, for its part, announced what Sundar Pichai called "the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history."

Neither move was enough to keep employees from joining demonstrations across the world. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) called Bezos' announcement a "huge win," but acknowledged that the proposal was not nearly enough. Though AECJ credits workers at other Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft with helping start a "journey toward a livable world," their official press release was less kind to employers. Calling out "Big Tech's complicity in accelerating the climate crisis," they promise that the Global Climate Strike is just one milestone in a journey that will continue throughout the next decade.

More than 1,000 Google employees (and counting) followed AECJ's lead this week. Citing the standard set by Amazon and Microsoft employees and acknowledging "the gravity and urgency of the global climate crisis and its disproportionate harm on marginalized people," they have issued an open letter. It demands the company announce a company-wide climate plan that will guarantee zero emissions by 2030 and eliminate funding for "climate-denying or -delaying think tanks, lobbyists, and politicians." 

It's also clearer than ever that an organization's behavior can impact its hiring efforts. With applicants of all ages expressing their interest in working for responsible companies, sustainability has become a competitive advantage. A recent survey suggests that a small number of applicants would even accept a big pay cut to join a sustainable business. With so many positions open, it's likely most won't have to make that sacrifice.

More Looks Ahead to 2020 

Check out the rest of our blogs exploring the trends and topics that will define Procurement's next decade: 

Many companies dealing with supply chain visibility issues

Having a strong supply chain is the goal of just about any business, but the problem many run into these days is they do not have as much visibility into those ecosystems as they might want or need. This is not just a problem that plagues small companies, either; many major corporations are spending large sums of money to get the level of visibility they require.

A recent survey of chief supply chain officers at large companies found, for instance, that while they highly prioritize ensuring their supply chain can run with minimal disruptions (87%), only a little more than 1 in 3 said they were actually able to meet that goal on an ongoing basis, according to IBM. The question, then, is what's being done to better meet those goals; it should come as no surprise that more than 3 in 5 companies believe AI and data analytics are key to improving customer service, but just 29% say they will put inventory optimization at the top of their priority list for 2020.

Companies must do more to gather data from their supply chains.Companies must do more to gather data from their supply chains.
This all comes as 90% of companies say it takes them at least 30 minutes to fulfill order status requests, the IBM survey found.

What's the disconnect?
Given that visibility is such a big concern for companies, the fact that there aren't as many prescriptive approaches to dealing with it may be surprising to some, but because every company has its own unique challenges, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, according to Freight Waves. Nonetheless, experts say it's vital for companies to do more to identify their own issues in this regard and move quickly to tackle them.

"While visibility can mean different things depending on the organization, the bottom line is that hidden areas within the supply chain create unnecessary instability within service delivery," Yamini Vellore, the chief information officer at Blume Global, told the site. "This, in turn, has a huge impact on customer experience and costs."

For these reasons, companies need to do more to ensure at least their part of the supply chain is as visible as possible, the report said. While a rising tide may lift all boats, businesses that don't have the agility they'd like would be wise to become more proactive to properly address their unique issues.

Where risk arises
In a recent poll of global supply chain organizations based in the U.K., 84% of such companies said they struggle to keep up with the ever-changing industry landscape, and nearly three-quarters noted they've faced some risk with their own supply chains in the last year alone, according to Ivalua. A large part of that is the lack of visibility they suffer from, as it leaves them unable to identify and properly prepare for dealing with those issues before they arise.

The more companies can do to effectively gather data from all points of the supply chain and use that information to identify trends that could be holding them back, the more likely they will be to enjoy success on an ongoing basis.