March Madness for Supply Chain Innovation: Seeking Small and Midmarket Companies

By Eric O'Daffer | March 22, 2022 | 0 Comments

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It’s March Madness time in the U.S. College basketball drama with 68 teams making the “Big Dance.” At Gartner, we just finished up the equivalent of the Final Four in Supply Chain Innovation — our Power of the Profession Supply Chain Awards. These annual awards recognize Process or Technology Innovation, Social Impact, Customer or Patient Innovation and People Breakthroughs.

It is an inspiring time, with some of the greatest advancements in supply chain around the world on full display. Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Shell and Pfizer are our winners this year in the four categories, with Pfizer taking the Breakthrough of the Year for the supply chain innovations it developed to get the COVID-19 vaccine in more than a billion arms across the globe.

See our free webcast of the winners here or a link to the note on the finalists and another on the winners.

One thing was missing, however, from our March Madness in Supply Chain: the Cinderella story. No knock on the large companies. They do amazing things in supply chain and share the great things they do. But large companies are not the only innovators in supply chain.

Gartner has long wanted an opportunity for innovative organizations that are not big enough to participate in our Global Supply Chain Top 25 to have a chance to shine. We look for nimble, agile supply chains able to move their organizations quickly in laser-focused innovations that exemplify the spirit of the awards.

This year, we received 84 submissions to the Power of the Profession Supply Chain Awards from 48 companies. From those, 93% of the companies are large global enterprises with more than $5 billion in revenue, with the majority exceeding the $12 billion threshold. In each category, we effectively have a bracket and rounds of supply chain community voting. Right now, it is the equivalent of all big conference powerhouses that dominate each of the categories.

My challenge in this blog is for the small and midmarket companies to think about supply chain innovation, how they are breaking new ground that makes an impact and to share those innovations more broadly.

Looking for Cinderella

Sharing is what makes our supply chain community strong and is, in fact, the foundation of the Power of the Profession awards program. Testing what is innovative in organizations will be a focus for Gartner in 2023. While the playing field is fair across these targeted innovations in each of the categories already, we plan to add recognition for Innovation of the Year for the midcap and small-cap organizations under $10 billion in revenue for 2023 to catalyze additional submissions.

For those of you looking for guidance, my blog last summer on the Doctrine of Power of the Profession Awards submissions still holds. Build a process to develop innovations, brand your submission and demonstrate impact are the key tenets of winners. Organizations of all sizes benefit from the process side, an area where Gartner has deep research on what good looks like.

So, officially calling companies of all sizes to help make March Mad in Supply Chain.

Innovation and excellence take a lot of forms. Midsized and smaller companies can combine agility and relentless focus to excel in innovation. Service companies operating a physical supply chain and healthcare providers are all welcome in the Power of the Profession Awards as well. At Gartner, we want to recognize excellence and innovation across the board and need a few Cinderellas. Please consider what Social Impact, Process or Technology, Customer or Patient Innovation or People Breakthroughs in supply chain at your company can make a splash in 2023 at the Big Dance.

If you want to talk about the program, or even vet an idea/innovation you are considering, please contact me directly at to discuss.

Eric O’Daffer
VP Analyst
Gartner Supply Chain


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