We spent the year breaking down how today’s supply chain practitioners are under the gun, feeling pressured to run smoother and leaner operations under thinning margins and during the most disruptive time that has ever existed. We’ve noticed that these conditions have spawned a sense of urgency for quick and easy fixes.
However, we also discussed how, much like lasting happiness, fulfillment, and self-actualization, there are no quick fixes in the journey toward industry leadership. Rather, it requires a thoughtful digital transformation to establish a firm foundation on which new processes and innovations can effectively flourish.
As we close out the year, here are three key takeaways for cultivating a lasting transformation and supply chain success.
1. The wheels of progress never come to a screeching halt, so neither should your supply chain’s development. Begin embracing a digital transformation and recognize it as the first step in a lifelong journey of growth.
It’s easy to think that such calls to action for digital transformations are aimed at small, paper-driven businesses. That simply isn’t true. Digital transformations aren’t linear events, and most companies (including highly successful ones) are advanced in some ways (i.e. by employing ERPs and WMSs to streamline certain processes) while still lagging behind in other ways –whether in their lack of network visibility or fragmented software architecture.
No matter your stage of development, digital transformations are for everyone. Not only do we live in an age where simply good isn’t good enough, but the industry itself is ever-evolving, pushed bravely forward by those who see self-actualization not as an endpoint, but as a launchpad to creativity. Industry leaders know to always ask “what’s next?”
We’re living in an unprecedented time when transformative technology is more accessible and affordable than ever before, enabling businesses of any size to quickly close the gap, compete with the Titans, and secure lasting supply chain success.
Despite this, too many companies are held back by fear, waiting for the “right time” to upgrade, or relying on incrementalism as a crutch to progress. Those with big and bold ideas must stop playing it safe, quit yielding to company policy and group think, and stand up for their convictions. You needn’t rip-and-replace current systems to enact transformative change; in fact, a natively unified orchestration platform will leverage those you already have.
2. You must transform because the supply chain is evolving; so, the nature of your transformation should align with the supply chain’s own evolution. Be mindful in your approach.
The supply chain, as an ecosystem of complex, global, multi-party networks, is practically unrecognizable as the more regional and straightforward ‘chain’ it once was. However, many of the underlying processes and frameworks designed to support yesterday’s supply chain are still in use today. As a result, many businesses unknowingly perpetuate rigidity in their supply chains – even when deploying the most modern, state-of-the-art solutions. Smart transformations challenge old paradigms.
Consider the state of the most widely sought solutions. The characteristics that make up a strong TMS have changed significantly. Many DOMs on the market have strayed from the solution’s original purpose, and few are robust enough to successfully serve the retail and omnichannel market. It’s also surprisingly rare for Control Towers to truly span the end-to-supply chain and offer any real control. To find sustainable supply chain success, practitioners must get past the buzz to the heart of what their businesses need in this new climate.
A global supply chain calls for a multi-modal solution. Businesses leveraging international multi-party networks should favor dynamic modeling over static modeling and multi-party orchestration over more basic approaches to management.
Delivering perfect orders requires controlling supply chain costs, which in turn demands addressing those areas that cause the greatest cost leaks. Perfect orders also require consistently impeccable service; in today’s global and networked supply chain, the fastest means to that end is through a holistic and natively unified platform that breaks down silos.
3. The supply chain is evolving because businesses are driving that change. Get in the driver’s seat!
As we close out the year, we should resolve to always be an active participant in the supply chain’s evolution going forward. The industry isn’t shaped by technology – it’s shaped by what people do with that technology. As you begin your digital transformation, question legacy processes, trust your instincts, and fight for the change you believe in. Though there are certainly ways to fast-track your transformation, this process will take serious commitment and dedication during and after its implementation. It’s also where the fun begins.