Many companies cite quality and customer satisfaction as their number-one business objective, but that desire doesn't always translate into appropriate action. A recent survey by Manufacturing Insights finds 71 percent of respondents mouthing the "customer-is-king" platitude as their top priority. That's followed by reducing overall cost and boosting productivity (66 percent) and increasing revenues and exploiting new markets (62 percent). But when it comes to citing their top supply chain strategy, 48 percent put reductions in material, manufacturing or logistics costs at the top of their lists. "As a whole, it does appear that manufacturing firms surveyed are still looking at a cost strategy in their supply chains, as opposed to speed, flexibility or service-enhanced supply chain strategies," says Kimberly Knickle, IDC's program director and lead analyst on the survey. Ranking second and third among favored supply strategies were, respectively, more responsive and timely decision-making across the global supply chain (39 percent), and greater responsiveness to changes in the market (36 percent). That, suggests Knickle, is a more heartening result, demonstrating that "manufacturers are aware of the need for more intelligent decision-making in supply chain management." Looking ahead, when asked to identify their top areas of IT investment related to global supply chain performance over the next two years, companies most often cited three areas: advanced supply network planning or manufacturing scheduling, advanced inventory management or optimization, and supply chain execution, logistics control and management. "Ideally, companies should map their business objectives with supply chain priorities to make the most effective IT investments," Knickle observes diplomatically. "The survey results indicate that many companies have a gap between their overall objectives and how they execute in the supply chain."
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