Supply Chain Trends and Issues: Our Weekly Feature Article on Important Trends and Developments in Supply Chain Strategy, Research, Best Practices, Technology and Other Supply Chain and Logistics Issues  
  - Nov. 28, 2012 -  

Sixth Annual Gartner-SCDigest Study Will Provide Window into Connection Between Business Strategy and Supply Chain Technology

Research has Now Become One of the Most Important Studies in the Supply Chain Discipline; As Always, Complimentary Gartner Reports Available to Respondents

  by SCDigest Editorial Staff  

For the sixth consecutive year, SCDigest has partnered with the researchers at Gartner to take a deep look at supply chain practice and technology, surveying SCDigest readers to form the basis for what has become one of the industry's most important and influential research projects.

SCDigest Says:
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.

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"We're trying to answer a number of questions, including the connection between supply chain technology and supply chain leadership," Gartner vice president Dwight Klappich, one of the leaders of the research effort, said this week. "We also are trying to gain insight into why some companies are better able to exploit supply chain technology for strong competitive advantage, while others are less able to do so using the same tools."

As usual, study participants will receive complimentary Gartner research for spending 10 minutes or so to complete the survey. They will have the option for a free download of one of the following reports, each with a value of several hundred dollars.

Survey Analysis: Buyers Tell Us About SaaS and Cloud Adoption Through 2014

• The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2012

• Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Management, 2012

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Previous Research has Shown Changing Priorities

Klappich said the research has proven valuable and quite interesting over the first five years, notably in changing priorities for supply chain effort and investment.

In the first couple of years, when the recession was starting and then at is deepest points, naturally the supply chain focus was primarily about cutting costs aggressively, in some cases with companies almost in survival mode, Klappich noted.

But three years ago, Klappich says, there was an important change, with the number 1 priority moving from cost cutting to productivity enhancement.

"Obviously, there is a strong connection between improved productivity and lower supply chain costs, but it was clear something had changed," Klappich says. "Companies were now past the slash and burn stage, and were focused on how to get back to where they were business-wise without adding back all of the headcount and other costs they had before the downturn."

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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."

Any comments on these research goals? Also use the Feedback button below to contact us if you have any problems taking the survey.

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