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October 25, 2021

Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo Americas: Day 1 Highlights

We are bringing you news and highlights from Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo, taking place this week virtually in the Americas. Below is a collection of the key announcements and insights coming out of the conference.

On Day 1 from the conference, we are highlighting the opening keynote and the future of last-mile. Further sessions deal with purpose-driven supply chains and learnings from the pandemic for the healthcare supply chain. 

Key Announcements

From Cause to Cure - Purpose-Driven Outcomes for a Fractured World

Presented by Dana Stiffler, VP Analyst, Gartner, and Simon Bailey, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner

Supply chains have been stressed and strained by multiple high-impact disruptions that have left our profession in the spotlight and our energy depleted. In their opening keynote, Dana Stiffler, VP analyst, and Simon Bailey, senior director analyst, Gartner, discuss new challenges for supply chain leaders and how to tackle them.  

Key Takeaways

  • “Leading supply chains recognize that profit and purpose are not opposites, they’re complimentary components of sustainable profit.” 

  • “The supply chain workforce has evolved. Workers are more skilled, regardless of where they sit - on a shop floor, in an office, or now at home. In fact, we are all knowledge workers.” 

  • “Today’s professionals want to do meaningful work. They want to help their organizations do the right thing, perhaps even save the world. But they don’t want to be left exhausted on the way.”

  • “Fifty-one percent of supply chain professionals expect their focus on circular economy strategies to increase over the next two years. But most of these leaders also told us that their organization lacks the capabilities needed to design out waste, keep materials in use longer and move to regenerative practices.”

  • “The future of sustainable profit lies in balance. We need balanced ecosystems, where all participants bring capabilities which are traded through equitable value exchange.”

The Future of Last Mile Driven by Technology Innovations

Presented by Bart De Muynck, VP Analyst, Gartner

Bart De Muynck, VP Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, presented on how new technologies continue to support and drive the last mile space, and  how areas such as AI and autonomous vehicles are driving new productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

Key Takeaways

  • “Last mile delivery has changed due to shifting consumer behavior, boosted e-commerce, and constrained carrier capacity. Not only do we see last-mile growing in all parts of the world, but last-mile is becoming ever-more complex.”

  • “Consumer return behaviors are rarely forecasted by retailers, leaving them struggling to meet unplanned and unpredictable volumes of product returns - as well as the return method used by consumers.” 

  • “Artificial intelligence plays an important role in the last-mile. The use cases span across advanced optimization and routing, iterative planning, predictive insights, freight marketplaces, chatbots, visibility, and autonomous vehicles.” 

  • “Autonomous vehicles provide a great opportunity for the last-mile to reduce costs, but also bring additional transportation capacity to a tight market - while at the same time providing better customer service.” 

  • “A recent Gartner survey showed that 27% of supply chain professionals rank sustainable delivery in the top 3 customer demands.“

Purpose Driven: Doing Well, by Doing Good

Presented by Sarah Watt, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner

What role should supply chain organizations play to enable the organization's purpose? In this session, Sarah Watt, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, discussed how creating a purpose-driven supply chain is not only positive for shareholders, but also enables improved supplier relationships and employee engagement.

Key Takeaways

  • “If the pressure to become purpose-driven was coming from one quarter or one group perhaps it could be ignored as an anomaly or as a blip, but we’re also seeing investors talking about being purpose-driven.”

  • Supply chain  leaders need to identify what their enterprise purpose actually is.

  • “Purpose is linked to what supply chain leaders do. It is linked to their product offering in the market. They also need to consider how their product portfolios change over time, and if they are still aligned to their enterprise purpose.”

  • “It’s not only about products and services that you produce. It’s about how you make those products and services.”

  • “It’s about understanding those positive and negative impacts. It’s about minimizing the negative, amplifying the positive. But it’s also about understanding the environmental impacts of your products.”

Building Supply Chain Resiliency in Healthcare Post COVID-19

Presented by Eric O'Daffer, VP Analyst, Gartner

In this session, Eric O’Daffer, VP Analyst in the Gartner Supply Chain practice discusses the impact of the pandemic for healthcare organizations and what they can do to become more resilient and prepare for future challenges. 

Key Takeaways

  • “For most of the chief supply chain officers, what the pandemic did to them was to put them side by side in these command centers with CEOs, CFOs, COOs of the health systems.  Organizations understood better the impact that the supply chain can have on the quality of care, and even on the ability to deliver that care.”

  • “We’ve seen growth in the use of robotic process automation(RPA), particularly in organizations with staffing issues. We’re seeing a renewed interest in autonomous vehicles for delivery in large hospitals.”

  • “Transformation takes investment. It takes a vision and the communication of that vision. It takes putting yourself somewhere on the roadmap and being able to clearly communicate that to your organization. It takes being able to harness that investment as the CEO of supply chain and drive it forward.”

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