For years, companies have used digital supply chain technologies to improve service levels and reduce costs. But the inability to connect disparate systems, provide end-to-end visibility into the supply chain, and crunch massive amounts of data, among other issues, has prevented many companies from achieving the full potential of their supply chains.
Today's supply chains are so complex and change so rapidly that optimization efforts often are overtaken by events, says Mike Comstock of Grand Canal Solutions. Planning needs to become much more dynamic, with analytics adapted to make optimization a continuous process, he says.
Several years ago SanDisk realized that its build-to-forecast model was causing excess inventory and poor on-time delivery. The company decided to transform to a pull supply-chain model based on actual demand and postponement. Kehat Shahar, vice president of operations and supply chain planning at SanDisk, talks about this journey.
The past was a simpler time for distribution operations. Technology was relatively straightforward. The supply chain wasn't "always on." There was no such thing as omnichannel distribution. That's hardly the case now.
Steve Lovejoy, senior vice president for the Starbucks global supply chain, discusses initiatives that the company has under way to meet the "whenever, wherever" demands of today's consumers as well as projects aimed at understanding the consumer of tomorrow.
What would it take for manufacturing businesses to operate like the best online retailers? How can such companies turn orders around in a day, deliver them with greater customization, and replenish stocks seamlessly? These aren't idle questions for the top teams of manufacturers, because customers, across both B2C and B2B markets, are more fickle now; service demands are steadily notching upward; and economic volatility shows no sign of abating. Supply operations often struggle to keep pace, as many aren't sufficiently agile to capture fleeting upside opportunities or to mitigate fast-moving risks.