Supply chain leaders today must cope with the COVID-19 pandemic while planning for the future growth of their organizations. Ahead of the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, Smarter With Gartner asked Gartner analysts what is the single most important thing that must happen in the next few years to advance supply chain operations.
Invest in digital infrastructure
Noha Tohamy, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
The pandemic has underscored the need for data-driven, analytics-enabled supply chains. Many supply chain organizations struggled to sense the unfolding event and respond to changes in market dynamics. Now supply chain organizations must push forward and accelerate their efforts to digitize their supply chains.
This means more investments in advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and data infrastructure. It also means broader adoption of automated, real-time decision making across the supply chain. And it means committing to upskilling supply chain talent to align with technology. These efforts are essential to withstand and recover from the next disruption.
Nurture talent, teamwork and collaboration
David Gonzalez, Research Vice President
It is the people factor that drives and delivers the supply chain. And the proliferation of digitalization, automation and robotics across the supply chain means the need to develop talented supply chain professionals is greater than ever.
Chief supply chain officers must create supply functions that nurture the best and brightest diverse talent in an environment that encourages inclusivity and equality for all. Technology will enable our future supply chain professionals to design and deploy more sustainable and resilient supply chains. But technology will never altogether replace the supply chain's human factor.
Dana E. Stiffler, Research Vice President
Much of the cultural resistance to anytime/anywhere work melted away during the pandemic. Now we have to get good at remote work. This calls for supply chain organizations to embrace remote and distributed work as a formal discipline, which includes balancing this with increased flexibility and support for hourly colleagues on the front lines in our physical locations.
Ken Chadwick, Research Vice President
The top challenges for supply chain success often revolve around collaboration and end-to-end decision making, and so leaders should focus here. Supply chains need formal organization changes to: link the end-to-end supply chain; build internal social networks to foster information sharing and collaboration; realign goals and objectives to motivate new behaviors; and hire and reskill to ensure that people are driven and capable of working in teams.
Read more: Strengthen the Supply Chain Talent Pool With Internships
Develop and implement a strong vision
Mike Burkett, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
The single most important thing to advance the supply chain is to translate a vision into value. While it may sound simple, we see so many supply chain leaders struggle to make this happen. But it starts with daring to have a vision, which requires stepping out of a daily routine to imagine what’s possible.
Converting this vision to value requires moving beyond experimentation to validating and implementing new ideas. This requires overcoming the many barriers along the way, including resistance to change and fear of failure. Supply chain leaders who can develop the necessary talent and organizational relationships will succeed in translating a great supply chain vision into value.
Support environmental sustainability
Tom Enright, Research Vice President
Retailers and brands that sell directly to consumers must increasingly incorporate environmental sustainability operations into their business models, especially in relation to last-mile order fulfillment.
Consumers have been flagging their elevating concerns as to the environmental impact of parcel shipments and are looking to: consolidate their orders into fewer shipments; delay the receipt of non-urgent orders so that they can be delivered in the most sustainable fashion; and minimize the use of packaging in the deliveries they receive. Companies that fail to act and continue to relentlessly pursue faster fulfillment across their operations will become increasingly out of step with their consumers’ concerns.