@ Supply Chain Management


The smarter supply chain of the future…

If we can get through these pressing times, we might have some time left over to read The smarter supply chain of the future (courtesy of IBM supply chain management). Or is that pouring new wine into old wineskins? Or is it the same old wine with a dash of vinegar mixed in?

The executive summary reads from the first line:

Volatile. That’s perhaps the best word to describe today’s global marketplace.Like economies and financial markets, as supply chains have grown more global and interconnected, they’ve also increased their exposure to shocks and disruptions. Supply chain speed only exacerbates the problem.Even minor missteps and miscalculations can have major consequences as their impacts spread like viruses throughout complex supply chain networks.

Silly me – supply chains were forced to grow global because of various actions taken by firms, first as a trickle and then enmasse which had the entirely unanticipated (I’ve been anticipating this for some time now) consequence of exposing the firms to the risk of very long supply chains. To give a different analogy, this is what Napoleon did too in his disastrous Russian campaign – he overextended his supply lines and continued his campaign into the brutal Russian winter. As we stand now, we risk a brutal global economic winter of proportions we have never witnessed (when I say "we", I mean most of us didn’t grow up in the great depression or something like it) all the while our supply chains are long and fraught with risks that are just becoming apparent. So tell me, what new problems await us? Plenty aplenty.

Nevertheless the discussion of the report focuses on:

Cost containment – Rapid, constant change is rocking this traditional area of strength and outstripping supply chain executives’ ability to adapt.

Rapid and constant change have always existed, no? One would think that while one would have been patting oneself on the back about engaging in globalization as rapid change but you can’t stop there. You’ve entered the whirlpool now – this is no time for smooth sailing.

Visibility – Flooded with more information than ever, supply chain executives still struggle to

Category: Strategy, Supply Chain Management


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February 2009