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With an ever increasing focus on innovation and efficiency in the supply chain, Gartner’s Top 25 Supply Chain Rankings 2017 threw up a host of interesting takeaways. In this fast moving industry, expectations from supply chain leaders are very different from even a year ago, according to the survey. While the report provides a global ranking, what would be interesting in an Indian context would be the best practices and areas of focus that have enabled these companies to use their supply chains as competitive differentiators. Two key aspects of the Supply Chain Top 25 ranking were the demonstration of demand-driven leadership and the importance Corporate Social responsibility.
The key trends for this year’s report include Digitalization, Adaptive Organizations and Capabilities and Healthy Ecosystems.
Leading companies are increasingly looking at digitalization as an opportunity in order to provide agile support for their existing products and are also exploring ways to reduce the time to market new ones. Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and advanced analytics have been some of the most disruptive technologies that leaders are adopting. In the last five years there has been a triple-digit growth in the implementation of industrial robots in manufacturing and warehousing especially in North America, Europe and Asia. The consumer products manufacturers have been using shelf-based sensors and analytics to analyze the completeness of display planogram and understanding the availability. The digital pieces of supply chain are collaborating in such a way that it is likely to enable a more holistic and real-time management of the entire supply chain ecosystem.
With more digitalized supply chains and resulting visibility, companies are increasingly becoming more adaptive towards future supply chain related constraints and customer needs. “Some of the most prominent supply chain organizations have opted for a modular chain model that enables certain functional capabilities to be combined with ‘plug-and-play’ segments, such as make-to-stock, configure-to-order or engineer-to-order manufacturing profiles” Supply chain executives can now predict demand levels from their customers or their business units. They are able to take pre-emptive action in either transporting or configuring shipments to reduce turn-around-times and increasing a resulting efficiency of the supply chains.
The leading companies studied in the report realize that the success of the supply chain hinges on the health and well-being of ecosystems within and around them. Companies are realizing the importance of the people-centric angle and in creating fulfilling, mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders such as the suppliers, partners, employees and customers along the value chain. Another area of focus is environmental sustainability where leaders have taken concentrated efforts towards reducing the carbon footprints of the supply chains.
A number of companies such as Unilever and other big FMCG chains are regulars on this list. However, Nokia makes it back to the list after a gap. The emphasis is however, on the disruption that is being caused by Amazon and its expansionary acquisitions and strategies. From its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, to its experiments with drones, same day delivery and the success of its Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) for its e-commerce sellers, this company has been regularly pushing established norms and is definitely one to watch out for.
Gartner has used three financial and corporate social responsibility metrics for the ranking.