Ten years of transformation


During conferences or interviews, chief executives can regularly be heard to say that their company is currently undergoing a digital transformation. But what kind of transformation do they actually mean? Are they talking about an operational transformation – about ‘digitizing’ existing, paper-based processes? Are they referring to a tactical change to their operational model, like when Netflix switched from sending out DVDs to streaming films online in 2010? Or do they really mean a strategic transformation, similar to how Netflix has started producing ever-more movies itself in recent years, to the point that it is now disrupting Hollywood itself?

Over the past decade, my company Supply Chain Media has undergone both an operational and a tactical transformation. In January 2010, after my buy-out of Supply Chain Magazine (which had been around since 2006), I was faced with putting together the next edition myself. I didn’t even have an internet connection, so digitizing the editorial process with e-mail and internet was my top priority at that time.

In the following year, we launched the quarterly English-language publication Supply Chain Movement – not only in print, but also as an app for iPads (and a year later for Android too). That changed Supply Chain Media’s operational model. And just this month, our renowned SCM IT Subway Map, which visualizes the market positioning of supply chain software vendors, has been relaunched as a completely revamped, interactive online version.

Strategic transformation

For Supply Chain Media, the start of this new decennium also marks the start of a strategic transformation. We’re currently putting the finishing touches to the first release of our digital knowledge base: a machine learning-aided supply chain search engine in the English-language. In start-up terminology, it’s a minimal viable product (MVP) that we’ll be quickly testing, improving and expanding in collaboration with a handful of well-known multinationals.

Just like Netflix, our subscribers will receive personalized recommendations about supply chain-related articles and other content read by colleagues and peers in similar roles within other companies. Besides that, a kind of Google Analytics tool will give managers insights into what’s currently top of mind among supply chain professionals. But – again, just like Netflix – we need to keep producing the top-quality content as the basis for the knowledge base… and that’s where our magazines come in.

Martijn Lofvers, Chief Trendwatcher Supply Chain Media