This month, I had the pleasure of attending Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix. The theme of the event was “The Art of Supply Chain: Creative Solutions for the Next Generation.” Its agenda included over 60 sessions covering the full spectrum of supply chain—from strategy and planning to distribution and logistics. In almost every way this is a large and very professionally run conference with over 1500 attendees, everything you would expect from a Gartner event. In this post, I will summarize some of my favorite takeaways from the conference.
1. Logistics’ next frontier
Logistics is the conference’s fastest growing theme. It seems that logistics has been the ‘innovation laggard’ compared to other areas of supply chain and the driver shortage and frequently changing fuel costs have dictated that major innovation is on the way. There’s a broad optimization potential in logistics ranging from strategic network optimization, through to areas as diverse as load building and leveraging the insight brought to us through telematics. Watch this space as it’s about time our logistics friends benefited from the funding and technology that has long been available elsewhere in the business
Planning, innovation and strategy are the areas with the most critical mass and continue to attract a lot of interest.
2. Don’t be afraid to roll the dice
Guy Kawasaki, marketing guru and entrepreneur, offered a compelling keynote on innovation, drawing on examples from Apple, Google and Amazon among others. As stated in his presentation, “most companies define themselves in terms of what they already do, not the benefits they provide.” The challenge is to “jump to the next curve” and offer a new level of value. Key takeaways to achieve this:
- Make meaning
- Roll the dice
- Polarize people
- Don’t let pessimists get you down
— Gartner (@Gartner_inc) May 13, 2015
3. A compelling case for Supply Chain Analytics
“Why should we invest in analytics?” Executives often ask themselves this question. Drawing on several case studies, Gartner’s Research Vice President, Noha Tohamy, offered a simple but convincing argument: analytics supports both business growth and “smart automation.”Advanced analytics puts the power of data at your fingertips. You can take smarter and more profitable business decisions with less human intervention and more insight.
My view has some parallels in that we certainly agree with the smart automation of advanced analytics to put insight at your fingertips. Difference being that we want automation to free up time and brain power to work on the next series of high value puzzles that will provide differentiation and advantage to your business
4. Sabic and Gartner discuss SC talent management
Gartner and Bill Gilbert from SABIC presented their thoughts on next generation talent management within supply chain. In summary it’s a well-structured and extensive program to take fresh graduates through each of the functional supply chain areas with the building of functional skills. It seems that the hope is for a greater appreciation of the dependency on each areas of the supply chain.
It’s certainly a big improvement over unstructured programs though I saw little focus on supply chain analytics as a skill and the leverage of data that is now exposed in many areas of our enterprises. Partly this is driven by the shortage of talent in supply chain with the inclusion of analytics making the skill yet more scarce. In our reality, there’s a ton of great supply chain analytics skills out there in the market…you just need to know where to look.
Thanks Gartner. An insightful and well run conference.