Changes in supply chain strategy and operations cannot be overlooked and we need to stay aware and forward-looking to remain competitive.

It has been a week of supply chain immersion.  We were knee deep in supply chain trends at MCIE’s manufacturers’ summit, the Supply Chain Summit and the APICS-IE executive panel and networking symposium on emerging supply chain trends.  It goes to tell you that the supply chain is a hot topic! For a company to be successful, the supply chain cannot be overlooked.

As always, it is important to keep our ears open for trends and watch-out’s.  Certainly the latest trends were discussed at each event.  What were most interesting were those trends in common among all events and speakers:

  • Speed:  With Amazon on the scene, speed has become the norm.  Quick deliveries, rapid access to data, fast turnarounds….  If you aren’t thinking about how to double your speed, you’ll be left in the dust.
  • Data:  There is quite a lot of discussion on data.  How do we collect data?  More importantly, how do we access the right data at the right time to make informed yet quick decisions?  Can we gleam interesting trends from data?
  • e-commerce:  Although it is becoming a bit hum-drum, e-commerce remains a hot topic.  How do we ship both pieces and boxes efficiently from the same distribution center?  Do customers have access to place their own orders whenever they want?
  • Bitcoins & blockchains:  I heard a fascinating talk on this topic and became convinced that these concepts could have far-reaching impacts on the supply chain.  Have you thought about instant, accurate access to inventory across your supply chain?
  • Re-shoring: Perhaps we should think about this as positioning inventory closer to the customer while increasing control.  It is gaining in popularity….
  • Collaboration:  Just think about Southern California (the #1 area for supply chain in the U.S. AND the #1 area for manufacturing in the U.S.) – without collaboration among the ports, railroads, trucking companies, 3PL’s, manufacturers and other supply chain partners, it would be a very different world.
  • The increased need for skills:  There is a great need for high-skilled supply chain talent.  Technical skills AND the big picture view are critical.  With baby boomers retiring and supply chains becoming more complex and interconnected, the demand for skills will continue to rise!
  • Persistence:  Specifically related to CA, we must find a way to partner with government to make it a business-friendlier state.  Persistence will pay off!

Which of these trends are most affecting you?  If you’d like to discuss ways to drive supply chain performance, contact us.