Turning the supply chain into a growth engine

Gary Hanifan is a managing director in Accenture Strategy – Operations.
posted by Gary Hanifan
1 March 2016

Volatile markets, rapidly changing consumer tastes, constant ambiguity and uncertainty are quickly making traditional linear supply chains obsolete.

Their shortcomings are apparent in their inability to keep pace and meet the needs of diverse customer sets, let alone detect promising new customer segments. Their responsiveness is further compromised by fragmented supply networks and operational inefficiencies that hinder scalability. 

Successful companies are responding by embracing the digital revolution that is changing the very nature of business. They are leveraging digital technologies to break down functional silos and enable supply chain convergence to transform their supply chains into profit centres that fuel growth. With that they are beginning to build the digital supply networks that support the transformation as they integrate physical, financial, talent and information supply chains.

Benefits of plugging into the digital supply network

  • Connected: Accenture research shows that the majority of C-level executives and supply chain executives lack the real-time data that would give them the visibility they seek across their supply chain. Only 47% believe their supply chain is very effective at meeting customer service levels.

Leaders incorporate cloud technologies and robust analytics to gain visibility as they build their digital suppy networks. They see new sources of revenue faster, identify new emerging market demand and serve their customers better.  

  • Intelligent: Analytics make supply chains smarter. Yet Accenture research shows that half of C-level operations and supply chain executives are unable to translate large amounts of data into analytical insights. They also say that limitation is their biggest obstacle to implementing effective supply chain strategies.  

Leaders with digital technologies and robust analytic capabilities excel at creating data-driven insights that give them the intelligence they need to respond to ever-changing product and service requirements. They develop a deeper understanding of both customers and markets, and they can predict where new growth opportunities may arise and adjust plans accordingly.

  • Scalable: The plug-and-play nature of digital supply networks makes it possible for them to add or shed suppliers or partners and invest in businesses as required. It’s a critical ability in markets where growing complexity and fragmentation need to be addressed. More than half of the C-level operations and supply chain executives surveyed by Accenture say supply chains that involve a multitude of partners and numerous geographies are their biggest challenge.

Leaders, on the other hand, leverage analytics, cloud, 3D printing and social media to introduce scalability across their supply chains from end to end. Consequently, they are dynamic and flexible enough to be significant contributors to growth.

  • Rapid: Leading companies can move fast to take advantage of growth opportunities. They understand that speed is of the essence. They are not only better at sensing market shifts more accurately than their competitors, they can allocate product design and manufacturing capacity across their facility network much more quickly and dynamically.

Today, every high-performing supply chain is a digital supply network that is connected, intelligent, scalable and rapid. Building them begins with the end in mind. A company’s vision for its network will have implications for improving its supply chain functions from R&D and sourcing and procurement, to manufacturing, planning, logistics and customer service.

Plug into your digital network now to capitalise on interconnectedness across your supply chain. Make data visibility and advanced analytics the central nervous system your organisation needs to create a fully integrated supply network that delivers the growth your company seeks.

Gary Hanifan is a managing director at Accenture Strategy

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