“Innovation” is a word that can be overused, but it remains the best word to describe what Gartner’s Power of the Profession Supply Chain Awards are all about.
Innovation requires new ideas. The awards program is really just a vehicle to capture and showcase the supply chain community’s greatest ideas — actually those ideas that, through practical application and a lot of hard work, have made a tremendous impact.
This is the eighth annual version of these awards, but it’s the past couple of years in particular that have accelerated innovation in a more disrupted world. And, as “supply chain” has become a term heard more often during that time — even if the word “challenges” or “constraints” or “issues” might follow — the community has undoubtedly stepped up in big ways in the face of unimagined adversity.
It might sound like hyperbole, but supply chain advances have enabled some of the best things in society these past two years, many of which are reflected in this year’s finalists. It is in this spirit that we promote these inspiring efforts to help humanity through life-saving advances, and a focus on environmental impacts and efficiency improvements.
Gartner’s ability to highlight these efforts depends on the community to submit descriptions of their best initiatives. This year, there were an impressive 84 submissions from 48 organizations. We thank each and every company that took the time to submit an entry. Gartner supply chain research teams of 14 analysts reviewed all entries and created a short list of six semifinalists for each category. Supply chain community professionals were then given six votes across the four categories to determine the finalists.
The 12 finalists have previously been announced, but we’ll do a quick overarching recap below. Finalists will be individually evaluated by an expert panel of 57 of the world’s leading C-level supply chain executives and academics. In this final stage, each judge ranks the three finalists in each category based on their achievement against each of the three award criteria: innovation, execution and impact. The winners, one in each of four categories and an overall supply chain breakthrough winner, will be announced during a Gartner webinar on Wednesday, March 16 – register now to watch.
These awards showcase initiatives that enhance communities and the environment while delivering results that benefit businesses, stakeholders and customers across diverse areas and during challenging times. Each initiative demonstrates significant investment and commitment to people as critical enablers of supply chain strategy and business performance.
“Developing” and “improving” are two other words that stand out when it comes to summarizing these powerful initiatives. Those words show up in descriptions such as developing new tools to improve performance; improving the experience for customers or patients; developing new technology to drive sustainability; and improving reuse and recycling.
Process or Technology Innovation
Supply chains faced with growing complexity and volatility are under pressure to adapt how they operate in order to meet customer needs and achieve business results. The three finalists in this category are Firmenich, Johnson & Johnson and Schneider Electric. These companies achieved outstanding and quantifiable business performance, thanks to breakthrough supply chain innovations in process engineering or technology application. They established major visibility and agility enhancements; built and relied on strong relationships with ecosystem partners, IT and internal customers; and challenged existing ways of working and piloted (and scaled) new, innovative approaches.
Customer or Patient Innovation
Supply chains are tasked with meeting the increasing demands from customers and patients. The three finalists in this category are Lenovo, Pfizer and Roche. These companies achieved positive, quantifiable impacts on customers or patients thanks to supply chain innovations. Finalists overcame significant barriers to improve customer and patient experience and health outcomes. They took holistic, customer-centric approaches — leveraging customer quality data analysis, overhauling systems and working with coalition partners.
People make supply chains work. Fostering diversity on the supply chain team, creating value for the business through the supply chain and developing capabilities across the value chain are keys to supply chain success. The three finalists in this category are Hershey, Intel and Shell. These companies took fresh approaches to address labor tightness, enhance company culture, drive behavioral changes in the workplace and improve employee safety. These initiatives make it clear that supply chain leaders differentiate themselves by acting as the architects of successful human interactions, mobilizing people with purpose to drive exponential results and employing technology to drive improvement.
Social impact focuses on achieving a positive, quantifiable impact on the community or environment through the supply chain. The three finalists in this category are General Mills, Kaiser Permanente and Microsoft. These companies are making great strides in recyclable packaging, improving health and equity in local communities, and circularity. They also highlight a transition taking place as supply chain leaders move from ambitious action to authentic achievement of social responsibility and environmental sustainability. These initiatives demonstrate that thoughtful investments can maximize business impact, meet stakeholder expectations and create a competitive advantage.
Taking a step back to think about all of the finalists reveals a few takeaways, which can best be described as overcoming obstacles, achieving agility, striving for sustainability, enhancing customer service, improving health and well-being, and addressing workforce equity.
Leading supply chains continue to evolve to meet today’s challenges, with some flourishing in this new operating environment that’s punctuated by disruption. As we look ahead, supply chains of the future must be resilient, agile, people-centric, sustainable and capable of leveraging digital technology to thrive in new operating contexts.
Finding the right words to tell the story behind these initiatives helps bring them to life. Playing a role in highlighting these initiatives, as I’ve done the past four years, continues to be a professional highlight.
We explore the finalists of the 2022 Power of the Profession Supply Chain Awards in the February executive report (accessible to Gartner clients)
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