COVID-19 has demonstrated the critical need for responsive and adaptable supply chains, in order to get life-saving materials and daily necessities to those who need them.
Organizations with strong supply chains have demonstrated their resiliency throughout this pandemic, and as a result we expect to see consumers’ expectations increase in tandem. This poses an opportunity for businesses to refocus on customer experiences and capture new purpose-led supply-chain-driven growth.
Accenture’s latest research, “A License For Growth: Customer-Centric Supply Chains,” surveyed top-level executives at 900 companies across nine industries globally, to understand how they are transforming their existing supply chains into ones that deliver customer experience-led growth. We found that companies invested on average more than $150 million in their supply chains over the past two years, but only 10% are effectively using those investments to transform their supply chains to meet increasing and evolving customer experience demands. This small group of leaders is taking action in several key areas: centering their strategy around their customers, investing in digital tools and capabilities for collaboration and innovation, and engaging their CEOs.
Today, customers must be at the center of everything businesses do. By understanding their ever-changing expectations, businesses can ensure that they are focusing their supply chains on the value propositions that matter most. In fact, 71% of the leaders in Accenture’s survey continue to deliver experiences linked to their customer value propositions.
The leaders in the survey prioritize the creation of sustainable supply chains to provide transparency to consumers about buying and sourcing ethically, recycling, and reducing environmental footprints. While priorities differ for B2B and B2C companies, sustainability across supply chains and manufacturing is increasingly important for both.
The leaders identified in the report have also recognized that collaboration is key to being successful. They have more data available than ever before. It is essential that organizations analyze that data correctly, to create insights that can help them collaborate with ecosystem partners more efficiently. By investing in new technologies, they can transition their models from diagnostic to predictive and prescriptive, and thus collaborate more effectively.
Providing on-demand and personalized products and services is also crucial. Leaders continue to invest in solutions to produce expanded capabilities that enable configurability and information velocity. Both are critical in responding to market-driven micro-segmentation and hyper-personalization.
Security is another key capability, as it’s top of mind for leaders across industries, given the growing number of data breaches and threats. Currently, 40% of cybersecurity attacks occur indirectly through supply-chain, cloud or managed providers. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to ramp up their efforts to protect themselves and their customers.
To see real change implemented in an organization, the CEO must be involved beyond initial conversations to enabling actions that enable true transformation. By achieving support from the board, the CEO can help gather funds and key talent, which will lead to real transformation from the top down. Our research found that a majority of leading CEOs allocate funding to drive supply-chain innovation, and top talent to accelerate supply chain transformation.
However, while many organizations have successfully transformed their supply chains to make them customer-centric, there are significant challenges that many still face. These have been heightened in the wake of COVID-19, especially as supply chains continue to face significant hurdles and strains.
These challenges include manufacturing and supply chains lacking flexibility, not finding the best ecosystem partners to deliver innovative and efficient solutions, implementing a digital architecture that doesn’t support collaborative innovation, being unable to scale solutions in place or in the pipeline beyond initial testing, and not having end-to-end, real-time visibility. All these issues can lead to organizations not delivering the transparency and communication that today’s customer demands.
Having a robust supply chain is essential to both business and society now more than ever, especially in the wake of COVID-19. In order to remain competitive and meet customers’ exceeding expectations, organizations must transform their supply chains to continue to achieve growth.
Kris Timmermans is a senior managing director for supply chain operations and sustainability, and Mark George is managing director and supply chain and operations strategy lead for North America, with Accenture.