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About the Authors

William (Bill) Cogdill
Director and Consulting Partner
Manufacturing and Logistics Business Unit

Bill Cogdill has over 40 years of marketing, operations and supply chain experience and is part of the consulting leadership team responsible for setting strategic direction for solutions that address client challenges. Bill can be reached at

Girish Dhaneshwar
Director and Consulting Partner
Retail, Travel &Hospitality and Consumer Goods Business Unit

Girish Dhaneshwar has over 18 years of operations and supply chain experience and is part of the consulting leadership team responsible for setting the strategic direction and leading clients through transformational initiatives in supply chain. Girish can be reached at


Ganesh Iyer
Manufacturing and Logistics Consulting Practice

Ganesh Iyer has an extensive experience advising companies supply chain planning and execution issues across manufacturing industries. Ganesh can be reached at

Nishanth Vallabhu
Business Consulting Practice

Nishanth Vallabhu has over 13 years of experience in the supply chain space working extensively with leading manufacturers and retailers. His current areas of interest include inventory optimization, deployment planning and sales and operations planning. Nishanth can be reached at

Supply Chain Comment

By Bill Cogdill, Girish Dhaneshwar, Ganesh Iyer, and Nishanth Vallabhu, Cognizant

February 28, 2013

Adaptive Supply Chains (Part 1 of 3): Manufacturers Look to Adaptive Supply Chains to Increase Revenue, Cap Costs, Boost Productivity

Changing Market Dynamics and Emerging Technologies enable Manufacturers and Retailers to Revisit their Supply Chain Strategies to Propel Growth and Gain Additional Operational Efficiencies

The last several years have been challenging for companies across the manufacturing, retail and consumer goods industries. But despite relentless and continuing cost pressures, companies in these sectors are now shifting focus to innovations that fuel revenue growth and maintain, if not extend, hard-earned productivity gains. To do this, these companies need to revisit and reformulate their strategies in order to create adaptive supply chains that can respond quickly to change. This starts with taking into account various technological developments and market trends, including:

Harris Says:

Despite relentless and continuing cost pressures, companies in these sectors are now shifting focus to innovations that fuel revenue growth and maintain, if not extend, hard-earned productivity gains.
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The challenges of meeting the instant gratification needs of digital natives and those with millennial-generation mindsets.
  The rise of mobile and social technologies and their effect on everything from demand planning to research and development practices.
  Shrinking product lifecycles, which are placing more pressure on supply chains to deliver next-generation products more quickly.
  The need to address the risks inherent in supply chain globalization, such as compliance exposure and variable logistics costs.
  Shifting supply chains and organizational effects of multi-channel commerce.
  The move from traditional on-premises computer systems to those that reside in the cloud, enabling cost savings and operational flexibility improvements.

Technology is fundamentally changing the supply chain equation. Virtual platforms are enabling real-time collaboration between team members, regardless of time or place. The emerging SMAC stack, consisting of social, mobile, analytic and cloud capabilities, is reshaping the organizational computing model and transforming marketplaces and supply sources. (For more on SMAC, read our white paper, “SMAC: The New Enterprise IT Model.”)

A truly adaptive supply chain requires a shift in approach. For most organizations, this means:



Rethinking supply chain strategies to accommodate new and varied market forces to grow revenues, an objective that sits at the very top of the corporate agenda today. Companies are grappling with how to enter new markets and attract new customers, which new channels to tap in each segment and geography and, additionally, how to penetrate deeper and wider into the existing customer bases. Retailers are experimenting with novel store formats and fostering new, more intimate relationships with consumers.


Reinventing supply chain operations to achieve or retain optimal cost efficiency and create new business capabilities. Retailers are among the most skillful cost-cutters in business today and the most adept at making quick changes to their operations to save money. Manufacturers are equally adept at cost-cutting but not as flexible as retailers. The struggle for both types of companies is to continue to maintain the lowest possible cost structures, while simultaneously finding ways to innovate and grow revenues.

  Rewiring supply chain systems to leverage technological advancements that help organizations deal with ever-changing market dynamics while boosting productivity. Automation of any supply chain task is likely to produce a faster process and enhanced productivity, along with the ability to scale. To take this to the next level, supply chain systems across industries are going through some fundamental changes. They need to accommodate the “3Vs”: significantly higher amounts of market/consumer information (volume), increased pace of business (velocity) and higher breadth of information sources (variety).

Figure 1 illustrates a three-pronged approach for creating an adaptive supply chain.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Reimagining the Supply Chain

Figure 1

Given the dynamic nature of business, timeframes are compressed for coping with ever-changing supply chain imperatives, while the pace of technology innovation continues to accelerate. There is substantial urgency for C-level executives to address these shifts. The market is moving faster than most organizations have the ability to change and transform. Establishing an adaptive supply chain is a critical weapon for responding to these market pressures.

Agree or Disagree with Our Expert's Perspective? Let Us Know Your Thoughts at the Feedback section below.

Recent Feedback

A fourth "V" that should be included is supply chain vulnerability (risk).  Gartner talked to Velocity, Visibility, and Variability.  

Dave Morrow
Mar, 04 2013