Next-generation supply chains: Efficient, fast and tailored

Successful management of extreme market and demand volatility has become the new mantra of supply chain managers around the globe. Macroeconomic cycles of growth, contraction and recovery have become erratic, making reliable end-to-end supply and demand planning increasingly challenging. Disruptions caused by recent natural disasters have added to supply chain volatility.

In business-to-business relationships, long-term loyalty and predictable order flow seem to have become relics of the past. At the same time, customers are tightening their requirements in terms of throughput time and perfect-order delivery while demanding continuous reductions in supply chain cost.

Online channels

The increasing use of online channels is driving the reduction of response times and forcing supply chain managers to find new answers for global micro-delivery of multiple small-customer orders, instead of the large-batch movements.

Maximising supply chain flexibility and managing multiple supply chain configurations have become the new imperatives for today’s supply chain executives. In addition, radiofrequency identification (RFID) and other digital technologies lead to new frontiers in supply chain transparency and process automation. Those technologies enable multiple supply chain partners along the value chain to seamlessly interact in the joint design, manufacture, delivery and service of complex customer orders.

But even with this kind of innovation available to enhance efficiency, supply chain executives everywhere face some tough challenges. So, how are they handling them? In this report we share the findings from our ninth and largest-ever global supply chain survey. We’ve drawn on the insights of more than 500 supply chain experts in Europe, North America and Asia, from companies of all sizes and across a wide range of industries. We’ve also picked out two groups of companies and compared their performance.

Leader versus Laggards

The Leaders, as we’ve called them, have consistently outperformed their peers, while the Laggards have consistently underperformed – both financially and operationally. The Leaders in our survey point to the future. They have supply chains that are efficient, fast and tailored – a model that lets companies serve their customers reliably in turbulent market conditions and that differentiates between the needs of different sets of customers. We’ve come up with six key findings that point the way towards how they do it.

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