Just half of supply chain execs see themselves as growth enablers

29 May 2018

Many supply chain officers are failing to persuade their C-suite counterparts of the need to reinvent the supply chain function and transform it into an engine of new growth models and customer experiences, according to a report.

Accenture’s report, Drive Your Own Disruption: Is your supply chain in sleep mode?, asked supply chain executives what their function in two years was likely to be.

More than two thirds (68%) said they would be a support function while 60% said they would be a cost efficiency driver.

Only 53% saw themselves as a growth enabler and only 48% as a competitive differentiator.

The results meant there was a disconnect between the C-Suite and supply chain resulting in missed digital growth opportunities for companies, the authors said.

“Supply chain executives should take no comfort in being categorised as a support function,” said Mohammed Hajibashi, a managing director at Accenture and global supply chain lead in its products industry practice.

“In this digital era where customers demand speed to market and hyper-personalisation, these executives need to ensure that their supply chain function is not only a key differentiator but also ensures the sustained growth of their organisations.”

He said the fast and efficient adoption of the right new technologies along with increased C-suite engagement with the supply chain function was key to achieving growth via new digital business models that create new customer experiences.

Respondents were asked to identify the top three challenges their company was facing when it came to creating value with new technologies across the supply chain.

Half (48%) listed inadequate skills within the workforce to drive value, while 44% mentioned lack of compatibility with legacy systems.

A further 43% mentioned the absence of clear business strategy to deploy and drive value while 42% mentioned the absence of a business case to integrate new IT.

Reluctance of the workforce to embrace new IT, lack of senior sponsorship, poor digital maturity of business partners also received responses of between 34% and 42%.

The report said chief supply chain officers have an opportunity to work with the full C-suite to overcome three main challenges – leadership, labour and legacy technology.

This could lead to them having better and more strategic partnerships that will provide the organization with increased value-driving potential.

To make the most of this opportunity supply chain chiefs need to be better aligned with the business strategy and to build productive working relationships with executives responsible for long-term digital investment.

Furthermore they need to build a workforce that focuses on core supply chain workers and artificial intelligence, leveraging connections to ensure the adoption of a reskilling strategy based on continuous learning.

Among the 900 executives polled for the survey were chief supply chain officers, chief operating officers, chief procurement officers and other supply chain leaders at companies with revenues of at least $1bn from 12 industries across seven countries.

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