26 March 2014 | Boris Felgendreher
When you think about the sexiest profession in the world, supply chain management isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind.
The difficult behind-the-scenes job of getting the right product, at the right time, in front of the right people, at the right cost, has historically been a little unglamorous and unsexy. But that is changing quickly. Here is why:
1. Supply chains are the backbones of successful products. The world’s best products depend on the flawless operation of their supply chains. From the newest iPhone to the latest collection at your local Zara store, market-leading products owe as much to innovation as they do to the quality of their supply chains. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, actually ran the company’s supply chain before he was tapped for the top job.
2. Supply chains are run with the newest technology. As globalisation continues, supply chains are getting more global and more outsourced every day. As a result, they are also becoming more complex and harder to control. Companies deploy some of the newest technology to manage their ever-expanding networks of supply chain partners around the globe. Similar to how we use social networking sites like Facebook to manage our social connections, many companies are now moving away from traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and rely on cloud-based collaboration platforms to orchestrate their global networks of trading partners in a much more efficient and scalable way.
3. Supply chains need to be fast and agile. Supply chains are under constant assault from shifting market forces, competitive pressures and unexpected disruptions. To operate successfully in this environment requires the ability to respond swiftly to sudden changes on the demand-side and unforeseen disruptions on the supply-side. The need for speed and agility makes modern supply chain management much more demanding, but also more exciting than any other corporate function.
4. Supply chain management is a global business. Global giants like Adidas, CAT, Nestlé or Pfizer are not the only companies who operate global supply chains any longer. Today, companies of any size can tap into cloud-based business networks and immediately start sourcing and selling globally without the budgets and resources required just a few years ago. The democratisation of business-to-business connectivity infrastructure has effectively levelled the playing field of global trade. As a result, it’s more common in supply chain management than in any other field to interact with business partners from all over the world on a daily basis.
5. Supply chain management is about big data. In 2013, Harvard Business Review named “data scientist” the sexiest profession of the 21st century. A data scientist, according to HBR, is a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data. The ability to turn big data along the extended supply chain into real-time, actionable business intelligence is quickly becoming a game-changing skill in supply chain management as well.
In summary, supply chains form the backbones of the world’s most successful products and require the newest technology to operate smoothly and efficiently. They have to be fast and agile to compete globally and are a prime target for big data analysis. That’s why supply chain management is the sexiest job in the world.
☛ Boris Felgendreher is European marketing manager at GT Nexus.