Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) recently interviewed provider and supplier customers to explore their vision for the “Future Healthcare Supply Chain.” As the healthcare industry continues to change, organizations are seeking new ways to remove waste, cut costs and improve patient care. 

GHX spoke with a select group of customers, from large- and mid-sized hospitals to some of the biggest suppliers in the world, for their perspectives on how the supply chain will help usher in healthcare transformation and its role in the coming two decades. Based on those interviews, eight key trends emerged that illustrate the strategic role the healthcare supply chain of the future will play in delivering value and insight to all areas of the organization.

According to the recent study “Supply Chain Sustainability Revealed: A Country Comparison,” by CDP and Accenture, climate change is becoming an increasing concern for many. As issues around climate, regulations and consumer attitudes evolve, they are influencing supply chains by exposing them to increasing risk levels.

The report looked at 66 corporations with $1.3 trillion in procurement spend, asking their suppliers to provide information on how they are looking at opportunities and challenges related to climate and water risks. The survey ultimately had data from nearly 3,400 companies worldwide, up from fewer than 2,900 in 2013.

CDP and Accenture were able to analyze the data at the national level. This allowed the two firms to assess relative climate risks faced by supply chains in 11 key markets. 

Operating in the automotive industry has always been challenging. Long and complex supply chains, unpredictable demand patterns and changing regulations – not to mention planning-to-production processes that can take up to five years – have caused headaches for car manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for a number of years.

The recession of 2008 and 2009 and its impact made things even harder. Collapsing demand and other associated factors squeezed the car industry and hit suppliers hard. Prior to 2008, it was important for suppliers to be able to respond to unplanned or short-notice demand from OEMs, as the balance of power usually lay with the manufacturers. 

Yet the legacy ERP systems in place at many telecom equipment manufacturers and distributors present an obstacle to flexibility. Outdated software is notoriously difficult to customize, requiring teams of developers weeks if not months to implement a business process change. Flexibility is further hindered by disparate applications, so that modifying one system can unleash disruptions across others.

Vertical Communications, a provider of unified communications and IP telephony solutions and services to businesses across North America and Europe, has broken the chains of its legacy ERP environment to drive new efficiency across end-to-end supply chain processes, from sourcing components and managing contract manufacturers to customer fulfillment and support.

For supply chain leaders, the future has arrived – a digitalized landscape that is redefining the role of supply chain in organizations around the world. With a forward-looking focus on emerging business opportunities, new strategic models and the latest supply chain technology, Gartner’s research-driven 2015 agenda is structured to address every supply chain management priority, role and maturity level – offering objective advice and actionable steps for next-generation supply chain strategy, planning, segmentation, performance management, analytics and more. 

This year’s conference theme, “The Art of Supply Chain: Creative Solutions for the Next Generation,” will explore the new meaning of supply chain excellence in the digital age – empowering leaders to push past traditional boundaries, drive innovation, and uncover new sources of value for the enterprise. Supply chain leaders must merge the “science” of supply chain technologies with the “art” of processes, talent and metrics.

In today’s fast-paced world of business, owners and managers are looking for ways to streamline the supply chain process, reduce costs and increase efficiency. When looking to implement the most effective supply chain, many would note that technology plays a pivotal role. 

Thanks to advanced breakthroughs in high-tech labor management systems, wireless devices, apps and cloud technology, great strides have been made to enhance supply chain performance. It is important to note two key factors that come into play to create a smooth, agile and aligned supply chain. 

One such example comes from the One such example comes from the supply chain solutions company, Savage, which has acquired third-party logistics company Trans Dynamics, an established provider of over-dimensional, intermodal, LTL and specialized logistics services. 

Another example comes from Descartes Systems Group, which acquired Airclic Inc., a leading U.S.-based provider of mobile solutions that help companies reduce the cost of delivering goods by automating traditional paper-based processes.

Manthan released a free guide for retailers and their suppliers titled “Three Steps to Next Generation Supplier Collaboration in Retail.” This guide lays out a step-by-step approach for a retailer to activate shopper demand and deliver a better shopper experience by improving inventory availability, product assortment, pricing and promotions; while driving down operational and logistical costs.

Need for Change

According to Manthan, Nikki Baird, an analyst at Retail Systems Research, emphasized the need for collaboration in a recent blog post - “It’s Finally Time to Get Serious About Supply Chain Collaboration (Again).” Competitive pressures, such as Amazon’s strength in fulfillment and Wal-Mart’s same day delivery capabilities, combined with elevated shopper expectations, are forcing retailers to take a closer look at supplier networks and capabilities to optimize the shopper experience.


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