Executives at Intel came to realize that the supply chain could be a market changer for the company, says Mani Janakiram, director of supply chain strategy. Not only could it sustain the core business of Intel, it could actually enable new business in new markets.
To drive business, both existing and new, requires the supply chain to look at customer service levels and affordability metrics, Janakiram says. "Supply chain planning really plays a critical role in terms of sustaining our core business," he says.
Careful planning is also necessary because of the highly complex nature of the Intel supply chain. With about 6,000 SKUs, the company doesn't have as many products to keep up with as retail, but it does have multiple distribution lanes to manage and factories in seven countries. "When you put it all together, along with our long lead times and the requirements of our customers, it really adds to the complexity of things."
The way to deal with that, Janakiram says, is to understand everything from the customer's perspective: what he or he wants, and what metrics drive the customer's needs. "We have to be agile. We must optimize our processes."
Nothing remains static in business, and certainly not in the high-tech world. Intel's supply chain is ever changing, Janakiram says, because its customer base itself is changing. "So we need better usage of our data and analytics to understand where and how our products need to flow."
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