Nick Banich, chief revenue officer for North America with Miebach Consulting Inc., relates how a combination of growing demand unpredictability and new technology tools is motivating supply chain managers to speed up the decision-making process.
The world of supply chain management is increasingly being affected by “volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity in all aspects,” says Banich. The globalization of supply chains has greatly increased the risk of disruption — a development that the COVID-19 pandemic made all too clear.
Businesses today have a new understanding of risk and the need for contingency planning. At the same time, their responses to current conditions need to happen much more quickly and smoothly than in the past. “You can’t spend six months with a bunch of Excel files trying to figure it out,” says Banich.
Digitization of manual processes is essential. Banich notes that the basics of computing and programming are now being taught at the elementary school level, creating a wider acceptance of the skills needed to speed up decision-making. Planning horizons are becoming so short that “sales and operations planning” is being recast as “sales and operations execution.”
Technology has stepped up to facilitate the transition. There’s a wealth of analytical and visualization tools at the command of supply chain executives today, for supply chains of all sizes. But people are an equally important part of the equation. Business-process change must accompany the adoption of new technology, and the effort needs to extend well beyond the walls of any given organization to embrace the full universe of supply chain partners, Banich says.
The marriage of technology and humans is essential to attracting and retaining employees in response to a severe shortage of talent. Digital tools give staff “a greater sense of purpose,” he says.
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