Companies' supply chain strategies must change and evolve with the times, as competition, consumer expectations and available technological resources remain fluid. The challenge facing leaders today is that these shifts in the professional environment are occurring more quickly than ever before. Therefore, the imperative to keep up has never been a more demanding part of managers' responsibilities.
Another element of difficulty associated with supply chain adjustment comes from the need to correctly predict next moves. Organizations that launch new strategies prematurely or pursue trends that don't provide value could stumble relative to their competitors. Therefore, logistics leaders must strike a careful balance between making progress and accurately reading the future.
Tech progress is more incremental than market forces such as competition and demand, which are prone to fluctuate. By keeping the arc of their tech adoption on track, companies can prepare themselves to quickly pursue strategic adjustments.
Agility is key
Forbes Technology Council contributor John Clemons recently highlighted the importance of fast strategic pivots up and down the supply chain. Companies with manufacturing strategies that are highly digitized - and therefore transparent - are well positioned for success in this regard. Automation and connectivity combine to enable organizations to scale up and down intelligently, and sometimes make moves more quickly than highly manual businesses could manage.
Modern corporations such as Amazon have mastered this strategy thus far, using large amounts of data and interlocked global networks to deliver exactly the products and services needed to audiences anywhere in the world. Organizations with this kind of strong underlying architecture never get locked into long-term patterns because they are ready and able to pivot based on the latest waves of data.
Clemons added that organizations becoming increasingly sensitive to consumer needs will also become more sustainable. Pleasing shoppers involves more than putting products in front of them in record time. Audiences today want to know the businesses they deal with are operating in a responsible way compatible with social good. Luckily for harried logistics managers, one of the keys to making supply chains more sustainable is ensuring strong visibility at all levels. In the process of becoming more digital and agile, they're likely gaining this much-needed transparency.
The benefits of more transparent and automated supply chains are so clear that some industry insiders are likely asking why more companies haven't made a commitment to more digitization. The problems that can hold businesses back vary. Accenture's recent survey explained legacy systems can prove problematic. When data is trapped in existing structures, it can be hard for teams to access the content quickly and flexibly. This is where solutions such as cloud computing show their logistics worth.
Leadership schisms may also be limiting organizations' efforts. When overall corporate decision-makers fail to see the worth in a new supply chain tech upgrade, there may be trouble getting the advanced system approved and implemented. Improved communication could represent the turning point at which a company finally embraces the latest logistics technology. That IT upgrade could then lead to more strategic shifts to stay relevant amid shifting norms.