A second change in supply chain focus occurred last year in the 2011 survey, where improving customer service and enabling profitable growth moved to center stage, a trend Klappich expects to be seen again this year, barring some near-term return to recession.
"This was another important inflection point," he says.
The Two Kinds of Supply Chain Innovation
To enable that profitable growth, companies must drive innovation, Klappich said, and the research focuses on two types: (1) supply chain actions that support business and product innovation; (2) innovation within the supply chain itself in terms of process and technology.
For the latter, Klappich notes how much more involved today many sourcing/procurement organizations are in new product development programs, often driving innovation through finding and developing vendor partners that can help create those product innovations while reaching a targeted price point.
"It is only fairly recently that type of collaborative approach between R&D and procurement has really started to occur in earnest, he says.
In terms of supply chain innovation itself, he notes the capabilities many companies are building in terms of e-fulfillment to support multi-channel commerce.
"Logistics professionals often have an engineering-type mentality in terms of analyzing problems, and focusing on efficient execution," Klappich said. "Now, as the study data keeps indicating a greater supply chain focus on innovation, supply chain professionals need to open up their creative sides to not just focus on continuous improvement and operational efficiency, but also how to innovate to support the business and think out of the box in terms of supply chain opportunities."
What is Your Supply Chain Personality?
Key to the end results of the study are questions that together profile a company's "supply chain personality." Those include such areas as how company management views the supply chain (e.g., is it considered as driver of business and market success or mostly as cost center?) and how aggressive a company is in terms of supply chain strategy and investment (e.g., is the company generally an early adopter, quick follower, and late follower?).
Tying these supply chain personality types to supply chain priorities, investments and success is a key goal of the research.
"Each year we learn a little more about those connections," Klappich said. "This we believe really is contributing to a better understanding of supply chain practice and results. We hope SCDigest readers will again strongly the research again this year."
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