The Path to a Thinking Supply Chain

Supply chains face enormous pressure to be more efficient and more effective — and even to be enablers of new business models. While technology isn’t the only “lever” able to accomplish changing requirements, it is a powerful one. The notion of a digitally enabled, thinking supply chain that acts on all available structured and unstructured data to prioritize actions and deliver superior results is something that can be a driver of sustainable competitive differentiation.

If we consider this shift to a thinking supply chain to be an aspirational journey, with capabilities acquired over time, then many supply chains have already begun their transformations. But they need to become digitally enabled quickly, otherwise that aspirational supply chain might become a reality somewhere else. Being digitally enabled means connecting and automating internally across functional areas or with end-to-end processes such as order to cash and with suppliers, customers, and consumers. There will be a “network” effect where value grows exponentially with the automation of transactions, documents, and key partner enablement.

While the notion of a thinking supply chain remains aspirational for most companies, progress is fast. It is IDC’s view that companies should begin exploring the thinking supply chain now. We suggest the following steps:
» Understand what digital transformation means to your business and the role for the supply chain.
» Do a digital self-assessment of your supply chain. What can competitors do that we cannot?
» Educate yourself about the potential opportunities digital technologies can bring to the supply chain.
» Identify key technology partners to collaborate on the best way to begin adopting these new technologies.
The supply chain is the most obvious “face” of the business for customers and consumers. The better and more effective the supply chain is, the better it protects business reputation and long-term sustainability.