Why? Because the global supply chain analytics market is expected to exceed $4.8 billion in less than five years, according to a recent report by MarketWatch.

Historically, the supply chain has been viewed through the lens of a support system and its success or failure has been measured by descriptive analytics. Today, the ability to report on past performance is eclipsed by the need to glean real-time, analytical insights. It is only when insights are combined with business intelligence that proactive decisions can be made. In short, a company’s supply chain maturity is directly linked to its analytical maturity.

In an industry where efficiency and attention to detail rule, successful supply chain companies have become increasingly sophisticated about ways in which to leverage data to make better-informed business decisions, streamline their logistics and improve their operational performance.

But, with the immense amount of (increasingly granular) data available for supply chain companies to work with, identifying, understanding and utilizing essential information becomes more of a challenge. More information leads to more complexity. In such a data-rich environment, the difficulty is separating the signal from the noise. Increasingly, new technologies are being used to successfully leverage data and transform raw information into meaningful insights.

Long regarded as a center of wasteful spending, reducing waste around corporate travel is a tough task since it is so directly linked to the personal tastes of individual travelers. Launching this year, ProcureCon Travel will assemble industry leaders from Oct. 26-28 in Fort Worth, Texas, to troubleshoot how choice can be preserved while making a meaningful impact on spend.

As procurement’s ability to create savings and serve as the architects of global policy around sourcing continues to be extended across organizations, jurisdiction is being broadened to cover some historically difficult to control areas of spend. These areas include IT, contingent labor and travel, all categories that have been growing in terms of spend as well as relative importance to companies in the modern globalized business environment. Out of these three categories, travel is by far the most subject to personal and cultural differences, and the intimate nature of an individual’s travel preferences places an undeniably human challenge in front of procurement teams who may be more used to managing and controlling costs around purely tactical spending categories. 

Juggling the demands of customers and understanding and predicting trends can be a challenge. The supply chain is sensitive to global trends fueling the economy and transforming society. Executives are under pressure to cut costs, improve efficiency and boost performance. How can they innovate, keep pace with trends, drive efficiency and meet customer demands? Supply chain executives need to identify the global trends that are most likely to impact their business.

At least six trends will dictate the future macro-economic environment, each impacting how organizations structure and operate supply chains: 

As a retailer, you are dependent on the quality of your suppliers. If you are manufacturing end product items, the piece is only as good as its weakest part. If a consumer product fails, it will cost your company its reputation, but if an industrial product breaks, it can cost you money and, in the case of criminal litigation, your freedom. Consumers expect that certain standards are met when purchasing a product. It is the retailer’s job to ensure that suppliers are compliant with these standards.

Give the Heads Up

According to the United States Department of Commerce, the first element of compliance is to get commitment from management. If there is a supply chain involved, the commitment needs to come from all of the companies in the chain. By gaining executive buy-in, your company guarantees the requisite standards are understood by all of the chain’s significant providers. This places all of the merchants on notice and gives them the opportunity to price items appropriately.

Many large B2B companies have been early adopters of price optimization software, but the technology is spreading further. B2B companies realize that relying on analysts with spreadsheets and manual tools to set and manage price points is impossible. These manual approaches have resulted in irrational prices and caused customer dissatisfaction.

Companies can correct course by embracing rational pricing to ensure prices make sense to all stakeholders.

For prices to make sense, they must align with local market dynamics and customer relationships, as well as the perceived value of products and services. From a corporate P&L perspective, prices should line up with strategic and financial goals to meet the objectives of the executive team and shareholders. B2B companies need to set prices that deliver the growth and gross margins committed in the business plan.

Healthcare costs have been under the microscope, and recently we have seen increased focus on cost containment and waste reduction. Because of the Affordable Care Act, focus is shifting from volume of procedures to value and the total cost of care. Operational concerns such as waste, patient safety, charge capture accuracy and transparency are under intense scrutiny because of their impact on the cost of care.

Despite pressures to streamline, most hospitals and health systems have not effectively addressed a main source of rising costs and inefficiency – inventory waste. The result is an estimated $5 billion of annual waste in medical devices.

What do you think of when someone mentions supply chain? Most commonly it’s factories, sourcing and shipping. When people used to talk about supply chain, they would refer to how manufacturers got goods from suppliers to deliver products to customers.

Now, people think of the supply chain involving all steps businesses take to get goods or services from suppliers to deliver goods or services to customers. Not just the farm-to-fork process, but all steps needed to bring a dish to the table.

Traditionally, purchasing of goods has been managed closely, but there is greater opportunity for cost savings for services than for purchase of materials.  The restaurant industry has opportunities for savings by using supply chain principles to focus both on the costs of services as well as putting focus on increasing accuracy and efficiency in the procure-to-pay process.


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