Gartner’s user survey, released in the late fall, is now in its sixth year. The latest edition finds respondents in a state of “retrenchment,” says Eschinger. Over the previous two years, they had been more aggressive in transforming their supply chains. Now, the emphasis is on cost cutting and the creation of more efficient business processes. Still, he says, the key finding with virtually every organization “is that the customer remained the nucleus around driving the business.”
Gartner saw a similar shift in trends around 2008 and 2009, following the onset of the Great Recession. An improving economy gives companies the breathing room to focus on something other than cutting costs.
Progressive organizations continue to invest in technology even during economic slumps, with the goal of gaining market share when times improve. But Eschinger says many companies remain “stuck” in terms of their budgeting, and are mired in an “inertia” that prevents them from achieving seamless, end-to-end processes.
Eschinger describes three areas of technology in which companies are looking to invest. The first is the cloud, which is delivering an increasing range of applications. Second is a platform approach, giving users a “unifying architecture” by which they can gain visibility over their supply chains. And the third is analytics, geared toward addressing demand variability and giving companies the power to respond more quickly to market trends.
With regard to spending plans for the 2014-2017 period, chief information officers’ budgets are growing “very slightly.” And supply-chain professionals “are fighting for a bigger piece of that pie.” At least half of respondents said they were planning to spend significantly more on supply-chain apps in the coming year, says Eschinger.
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