This week, Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held in San Jose California, drawing over 2800 attendees.
In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.
On our Part Two posting, we shared impressions of the Oracle S&OP Cloud application currently in-development.
Our Part Three posting provided highlights of the second day’s keynotes that were focused on future dimensions of transformation.
My goal in this update is to share my updated impressions related to current needs for supply chain related transformation.
As our Supply Chain Matters readers are probably aware, this industry analyst and Editor has be afforded the opportunity to attend many supply chain management focused conferences, either industry or technology focused. This week’s Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference is no exception.
At many of such conferences, supply chain team leaders often describe various key learning derived from transformation or business change initiatives. Many exhibit very consistent and all-important themes such as insuring top-management sponsorship, a strong emphasis on change management or addressing process and data before layering advanced technology.
Of late, I have noticed a further learning, one that I can best describe as external or outside-in forces that compel the need for change at a far different pace of change.
Let me further explain.
A number of supply chain industry analysts often communicate the notions of supply chain transformation from people-process-technology dimensions at various levels of defined maturity. The so-termed phases of supply chain maturity charts are what I reference. Four or five phased, they all have common purpose. They often serve as a meaningful way for helping industry supply chain teams chart their transformation end-goal visions as well as benchmark a current state of organizational maturity. While such maturity charting can serve as a tool for change, it can sometimes transmit a message that continuous improvement is ok, or that taking pause at a given phase is acceptable. I worry aloud about such notions since some analysts, are not addressing the building external pressures within many industry settings that are now being communicated.
What’s different about today’s needs for transformation?
Read any business journal of late and the words economic and business uncertainty are stark and all too common. The global economy struggles to grow 3 percent annually, the U.S. and Europe a mere 2 percent. The Economist recently questioned whether global wide market presence and consequent global stretched supply chains may be faltering due to increased complexities and cost.
Individual businesses have shareholders demanding near-term returns and profitability for their investment and it seems that no business is immune from the force of activist investors. CEO’s have no choice but to prioritize efforts at growing top-line revenue growth, adopting new, more profitable digitally based business models while continuing to reduce business costs. Growth is often translated to acquisition. Oracle senior executive Mark Hurd has been masterful in communicating such trends to CEO audiences.
Cost reduction motivates needs for restructuring or the flattening of organizational layers. If readers have had the opportunity to review our 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains, you are now aware that a whole new dimension of geopolitical uncertainty and business risk are prominent in the coming months.
What I hear of late is a new consistent theme of an external force for change. Our business has a new CEO with a mandate for transformation. Our business executed a merger and acquisition that introduced even more supply chain process and technology complexity. Regarding the latter, complexity is leading to more inefficiency and added costs. We are lacking the right data and information and our S&OP and operational decision-making processes are not keeping up with the current pace of business change.
The bottom-line is that the pace of transformation may no longer be as optional as it once was. Organizations may have little choice but to increase the pace of transformational change and supply chain leaders are expected to lead such efforts at a quicker cadence, albeit sometimes at an uncomfortable pace. That is why the notions of Cloud based applications and more leveraged use of digital advanced technologies such as analytics and IoT are gaining increased interest and senior management sponsorship. Consider that 2800 attendees are gathering at this supply chain management technology focused conference, often with needs to gain more learning and education as to new software and information management technologies.
We as analysts need to communicate supply chain transformative process maturity measures in dimensions of internal or external forces of change. The former having some timing discretion, the latter not so much. We need to remind teams that crisis is often the best motivator and mandate for an organization’s need for change. Industry supply chain teams face a building talent crisis yet beg for training resources. Our supply chain leaders of tomorrow are less tolerant for complexity and far more-savvy in the leveraged use of technology in their everyday lives and in conducting work. They embrace teamwork and team based problem solving. If your organization is laggard in talent development, your industry competitor will seize the opportunity with trained talent.
Finally, a message to technology providers. Some our communicating that now is the time for fostering innovation and new business models. Some, such as Oracle, communicate the implications of millennial workers in their interaction with technology and decision-making. All of this is fine, but do not at all, dilute the reality that industry supply chains must continue efforts in reducing costs and complexity while increasing productivity.
External forces of change surround, and supply chain teams are now communicating those forces of external change.
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