At the start of the New Year, our parent, the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group along with our Supply Chain Matters blog as a broadcast medium, traditionally provide a series of predictions for the coming year. These predictions are provided in the spirit of assisting industry specific and global supply chain cross-functional teams in helping to set management objectives for the year ahead. Our further goal is helping our readers and clients to prepare supply chain management and line-of-business teams in establishing impactful programs, initiatives, and educational agendas.

The context for these predictions includes a broad cross-functional umbrella of supply chain strategy, planning, execution, product lifecycle management, procurement, manufacturing, transportation, logistics and customer service management. crystal_ball

We are admittedly and purposefully late in our usual unveiling of these 2017 predictions. We made a conscious decision in mid-November to delay after the sudden and widely unexpected results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election coupled with the similarly unanticipated results of the Brexit referendum across the United Kingdom.

To reiterate once again, our predictions process includes a re-look at all that occurred in the current year, a reflection of future implications, and soliciting input from clients and other various industry supply chain participants and observers. Unlike others, we incorporate a lot of thought and perspective into our annual predictions and take the time to scorecard our annual predictions at the end of the year.

Readers are welcomed to review our scorecard series of our 2016 predictions that occurred in November. We are further planning to make available the scoring evaluation of all of our prior 2016 predictions in a report to be made available in our Research Center later this month.

In this initial blog, we will unveil our complete listing of our ten predictions for the coming year along with some introductory takeaways. In subsequent postings spanning the month of January we will dive further into each of our predictions.

In late- January or early February, we anticipate publishing the complete Ferrari Consulting and Research Group research report, 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains that will incorporate all our predictions along with even more details and supporting data related to each prediction. This report will be made available to all our consulting clients and blog sponsors and will additionally be made available for no-cost complimentary downloading in the Research Center of Supply Chain Matters, also in February.

Let’s therefore begin the process with the unveiling of our ten 2017 predictions.

Drum-roll please……

 

2017 Prediction One- A Subdued World Economic Outlook and Heightened Political Uncertainty Will Test Industry Supply Chain Agility

 There is little doubt that the year 2017 will present even more uncertainty and increased volatility for many industry supply chains. Organizations will once again need to be prepared.

 

2017 Prediction Two- A Challenging Year in Procurement with Renewed Emphasis on Strategic and Technical Skill Needs

Unlike 2016, what is becoming near certain is that in 2017, multi-industry supply chains will be managing a period of rising inbound component and service costs. The role of the CPO will further have to evolve in 2017 to one of strategic business advisor along with a continuing agenda of tactical procurement challenges, most notable a potential global volatile global sourcing environment peppered by continuous anti global trade forces. One of the most significant challenges in the coming year will be in skills development and filling-in skills and talent gaps.

 

2017 Prediction Three- A Supply Chain Talent Perfect Storm

 For all functions that make up the umbrella of today’s supply chain management capabilities, we predict a supply chain talent perfect storm, one that is sure to occupy more of the management attention of supply chain and business senior leadership. The perfect storm is increased skills demand meeting limited available skilled talent supply. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek declared in late December 2016: “Right now the problem isn’t too many workers who can’t find jobs. It’s too many jobs that can’t find workers.” The coming year may well provide a period where lack of skills and talent will take on a discernable and visible impact on required competences.

 

2017 Prediction Four- Increased Anti-Trade Geopolitical Forces Will Provide Added Sourcing Challenges for Industry Supply Chains

Major developments surrounding global trade policies will occupy the attention of many industry supply chain organizations during the year, but now from an opposite perspective. With heightened global tensions now turning toward more anti-trade and possibly more protectionist rhetoric among developed nations, industry supply chains must now be prepared to deal with potential near and longer term implications that such policies will bring about.  We anticipate that industry supply chain network models will undergo continuous analysis and scrutiny in the coming year as individual supply chain teams assess various changing landed cost factors among product management models. Global trade issues will once again percolate in the coming year and they will likely be complex and confusing to sort out in terms of which will ultimately come to fruition.

 

2017 Prediction Five- Continued Global Transportation Industry Turbulence

For the past three years, we have predicted industry turbulence among global and certain domestic transportation networks.  Our predictions turned out to be fairly accurate but then again, the industry signs were obvious. In 2017, firms should plan for further industry turbulence and change occurring on many modal fronts. As the Washington Post, has recently observed: “industry change is indeed sweeping from all directions.”

 

2017 Prediction Six- A Renewed Renaissance in Business and Technology Investment

As industry supply chains enter 2017, there are distinct signs of a renewed renaissance in business and technology investment that will surely include the need for supporting augmented supply chain related business process and decision-making needs. An initial pro-business environment fostered by the election of Donald Trump and a Republican Party dominated U.S. Congress looks to lead to lower corporation business taxes and repatriation of overseas profits. There are now signs that after multiple years of plowing excess cash into stock buybacks or increased stockholder dividends, businesses may be ready to shore-up needed investments in critical areas such as increased productivity, manufacturing, and broader supply chain automation along with needs for more informed, analytical-driven decision making anchored in predictive decision-making methods. At the same time, a renaissance in multi-industry business process and technology investment activity will surely lead to further merger and acquisition activity involving either the enterprise software, supply chain, IoT, and management decision support technology vendor community.

 

2017 Prediction Seven- Enhanced Decision Support Capabilities Among B2B Network and Managed Services Providers Will Pay Added Dividends for Customers

 There will exist increased industry specific needs for deeper and wider levels of customer, product, physical object, and supply network focused information visibility, capture and analysis.  This need is coupled to building multi-industry supply chain requirements for more predictive, analytics data-driven decision making competencies that involve outside-in insights. The objective is a literal 360-degree view of supply chain wide data and information, horizontally spanning the end-to-end supply and vertically coupling high level enterprise to shop-floor decision-support needs.  A means to achieve such a capability are analytics and business intelligence engines that are now being embedded across supply chain focused B2B network platforms, edge systems and production shop floor transactional and information transfer flows. B2B business networks and edge platforms are today the prime opportunity for digitizing the horizontal and vertical flow of information and analytics across end-to-end supply chains.

 

2017 Prediction Eight- Amazon and Alibaba Position for Global Online Platform Dominance

Similar to 2016, Amazon and Alibaba will continue to position for being the dominant global online retail platform.  This competition has been civil with each respecting the other entities capabilities and strengths. Each has certain weaknesses or vulnerabilities. The head-to-head competitive battle ground in 2017 will likely be India, the next big online retail market opportunity that will test both provider’s capabilities to adapt to local requirements.

 

2017 Prediction Nine- Business Self-Interest Will Fuel Continued Efforts in Supply Chain Sustainability Actions and Initiatives

Despite the declarations by U.S. President Donald Trump that climate change is a hoax, business and supply chain self-interest needs, requirements and benefits to date will fuel continued sustainability initiatives and momentum. The goal is beyond supply chain sustainability, and remains sustainability of the business itself.

 

2017 Prediction Ten- Unique Industry-Specific Supply Chain Challenges in 2017

Each year we call out industry-specific supply chain challenges that are unique and dominant challenges. In 2017, we are including the following industry sectors for mention:

Automotive Supply Chains Existing Across North America

B2C and Online Retail

Commercial Aerospace

Consumer Packaged Food and Beverage

Global Based Pharmaceutical Supply Chains

 

Keep your browser pointed to Supply Chain Matters as we dive into each of the above 2016 predictions in more detail. Our next Predictions posting will provide added detail for our first two predictions. Subsequent posting will dive into the remaining eight predictions.

Our series will also feature some invited guest commentaries reflecting more on the topic area.

If readers or clients require further clarity, or wish to contribute additional thoughts related to what to anticipate in the coming year, you can contact us via email: feedback <at> supply-chain-matters <dot> com. Our final blog commentary of the series will include a summation of additional contributed thoughts for what to expect.

Bob Ferrari

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