17 October 2005 | Anusha Bradley at the CIPS Premier Conference in London
The supply chain of the future will be customer-focused, not supplier-focused, and supply chain managers will be orchestrators, Cranfield University's Professor Martin Christopher told delegates.
According to Prof Christopher, we are entering an era of supply chain competition, during which the chains themselves rather than companies will compete.
"With outsourcing, the wider supply chain is the value chain, and how we leverage that value becomes the critical driver of competitive advantage," he said.
He cited Spanish clothing retailer Zara, whose agile supply chain transferred 20 lines a year from concept to shop floor in four weeks, as a prime example of this modern-day transformation.
He added that to make this happen the future supply chain manager will need to work in cross-functional global teams.