Last week over 500 European Supply Chain executives joined us for the 6th annual Gartner European Supply Chain conference in London. Each year the event has grown significantly not only in attendee numbers but also in the overall interest in Supply Chain as a profession and enabler to the business.
Research Vice President Mike Burkett delivered an inspiring opening keynote and challenged the audience on a few key trends:
- Every company must become a technology company. Supply chain leaders must seize the opportunity to secure a bigger technology budget.
- Digital business is reshaping the supply chain. Leaders must focus on advanced analytics, automation and end-to-end connectivity to compete.
- Create new digital skills and build bimodal capabilities.
Mike described the need to become bimodal. This need quickly became the talking point of the event among senior executives. In mode one Supply Chain must continue to focus on efficiency and operational excellence – the traditional operational caretaker. In mode two, in parallel, you must be able to experiment, fail (fast), innovate and embrace new crazy ideas. This needs different people, incentives and culture. You must hire data scientists and sociologists, experiment with drones and other smart machines, harness unstructured data and design e2e connected processes like never before. Analytics must become embedded and mainstream.
Easier said than done. In a private roundtable of twelve Supply Chain executives, to become bimodal was seen as an absolute necessity. And some had already started on the journey. But there are still many barriers across the organization that hinder the ability to implement these initiatives fast enough. Speed will become key to the success of your digital future.
So where do you start? Mike laid out three focus areas:
- Take charge of your future technology direction. Collaborate with IT and have more influence over IT, OT and IoT technology decisions. Do you have a digital roadmap?
- Prioritize spending into analytics to consume and leverage data, and smart machines to optimize processes. Technology budgets are shifting from IT to the business – do you have a technology budget?
- Shift to a talent and organizational strategy that injects new skills into supply chain and enables a bimodal capability for both execution on today’s efficiency goals as well as experimentation with bold new ideas for growth. Do you have a “Center of Innovation” where crazy ideas can be tested?
Remember, data is the oil of the 21st century!