Gartner: ‘Companies need a digital roadmap’

Data science is our culture

When it comes to the digital transformation, where should a company start? Gartner’s Mike Burkett highlighted that question as he kicked off the firm’s annual supply chain conference in Barcelona in June. “We lack a digital roadmap. But nowadays we’ve become accustomed to changing from masters of Excel spreadsheets to digital processes.”

Burkett referred to Gartner’s own research to illustrate that companies need to do a lot more, but they often lack a clear goal: “You can’t define a roadmap if you don’t know where you want to go. Supply chain organizations need to use knowledge from other departments. Collaboration is the key to managing the beating heart of the ecosystems in which companies operate, yet 60% of companies are still focused on internal process integration.”

Collaboration for digital transformation

According to Burkett, there are plenty of examples of pioneering collaborative partnerships between companies: “Spain’s El Corte Inglés chain of department stores is working together with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to ship goods ordered online via the Spanish retailer’s logistics network. Meanwhile, UK retailer John Lewis buys back unwanted clothing from consumers, making use of public benefit corporation Stuffstr’s app which arranges a courier.” Besides that, Burkett has high expectations of online marketplaces for road freight, such as UberFreight and Saloodo, in helping to reduce the percentage of empty trucks on the roads (which currently stands at 50% for return trips).

“But when it comes to the digital transformation, where should companies start?” he wondered out loud. “First of all, they should explore robot process automation, just like Heineken has done to automate repetitive actions in the customer service process. Furthermore, it’s about creating the right culture. As Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitch Fix, says: ‘Data science isn’t woven into our culture; it is our culture.’ Stitch Fix designers will sometimes override the machine learning algorithms based on customer preferences, but that’s part of the strength of the company’s approach.”