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A discussion about what it means to build a “future-ready” supply chain, with Manish Sharma, group chief executive officer of operations, and Kris Timmermans, head of the Supply Chain & Operations Practice, with Accenture.
Accenture’s latest research surveyed 1,100 C-suite executives, including 254 supply chain leaders, to assess their progress toward creation of “future-ready” supply chains. The firm defines the term as reaching the last of four steps in the journey: foundational changes, automation, achieving insights into the business, and being able to predict operations and take appropriate steps in response.
The traditional role of the chief supply chain officer has been to deliver continuous savings and efficiencies to the organization. Now, says Timmermans, the CSCO is required to manage any crises that might emerge, while creating supply chains that fit the unique requirements of the business, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The position also must address multiple issues related to corporate social responsibility, such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing societal risks.
Five characteristics define a future-ready supply chain today, says Sharma: breaking down organizational silos, committing to data automation and analysis, adopting a “cloud-first” approach for digital transformation, embracing automation to augment human talent, and cultivating “huge ecosystem partnerships” that extend well beyond the confines of individual companies.
Supply chain executives have no choice but to pursue those goals, says Timmermans. The price of inaction is “heavy,” with laggards unable to respond to changes in demand and recover from shocks to the system, and the business suffering a loss of sales. Ultimately, he says, “shareholders will revoke your right to transform.”
Currently just 4% of the executives surveyed by Accenture say they are “future ready,” but Sharma says it’s essential that they move toward in that direction, beginning with “a vision of where you want to go.”
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