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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

May 24, 2024

Trip Report: Gartner Supply Chain Symposium 2024 Part 3

More Review of Key Breakout Sessions

As we cruise into a long holiday weekend here in the US, I had originally planned to do my usual summary and analysis of the Gartner Top 25 Supply Chains for 2024, just released this week.

But knowing many readers are taking the day off or packing it up early, I am holding that off for next week, other than to note that Schneider Electric came out on top for the second straight year.

So after summarizing the conference as a whole and the opening keynote (see Trip Report: Gartner Supply Chain Symposium 2024) and then last week reviewing two of the top conference breakout sessions (see Trip Report: Gartner Supply Chain Symposium 2024 Part 2), I am back for one more bite at the Gartner conference apple, with a review of two more breakouts.

Gilmore Says....

This has to do with ensuring team members are engaged for the long journey. That is difficult to do, and people often have issues or questions about the program they don’t share.

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I attended a session on the unveiling of the 2024 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems (TMS), led by analyst Brock Johns.

He noted that nearly one third of companies are or plan to invest in new transportation technology, but I will note that doesn’t necessarily mean traditional TMS. But I agree interest remains high.

As always with the MQs, Johns started by summarizing key trends impacting TMS, which he said include:

Sustainability: Interest in reducing CO2 is driving many companies to acquire TMS, and TMS software suppliers to add GHG calculation and reporting capabilities.

AI: All TMS vendors have added or are adding AI/ML capabilities. A popular area for this is in routing and scheduling, and use of GenAI for reporting and analytics, Johns said.

Logistics Control Towers: This is a misunderstood area, and what the term means varies widely across different companies, Johns said. The driver of the interest – the never-ending quest for great visibility, which is often powered by data from in part a TMS. Johns noted that a much higher percent of high performing logistics organizations are investing in control towers than is the average company.

Platforms and Architecture: There is a lot of change here, Johns said, and operations people needed to partner up with IT to deal with this area well. Vendors are increasingly pitching “platforms” as a higher state of evolution that traditional TMS, he added.

Planning and Execution Convergence: There is nothing in my view really new here, with the example given of the transportation receiving team more sales forecasting data so they can better plan. Surely this is already widespread by now, is it not?

Johns also cited some TMS technology trends beyond  AI, which include: a focus on the user experience, including personalization of the software; and the ability to capture and report on Scope 3 (vendor supply chain) CO2 emissions.

Johns than unveiled the 2024 TMS MQ, which we publish below:



Johns concluded with four vary basic recommendations to consider when selecting a TMS – two of which were “work with Gartner.”


I also attended a session led by analyst Noha Samara, on “4 Rules to Ignite Your Supply Chain Planning Transformation,” which she connected to the similarities of a road trip.


She started by citing Gartner research that found that 89% of supply chain transformation initiatives fail to meet their targeted benefits – not good, and attributed in part the complexity of such efforts.


Samara’s four rules are:


Rule 1: Know where to start and where to end.


It is critical to be very clear on where you really want to go, and have a “North Star,” the compelling reasons for your transformation program that guide your journey. That must also include being clear about the value of the transformation to the business.

Part of that includes detailing how things should look when you get there.


Most successful planning transformations tie into larger strategic initiatives at the company, Samara said.


She said companies also must analyze where they really are to start, including how they really rate in terms  of best in class supply chain planning functions.


Rule 2: Never underestimate the complexity of the journey.


While most everyone understands planning transformations are hard, still the challenges are often not fully grasped, Samara said.

It’s critical that the challenges and complexities are well-recognized at the start of the project, she added – and that this knowledge leads to use of the right tools and data for the effort.

Samara placed the complexities transformers will like face into two main buckets: (1) organizational complexity, which includes the number of business units, process design, and variance in maturity levels (i.e., skills), among other factors; and (2) technical complexities, including having multiple types of planning software, lots of custom or homegrown applications, and level of technology adoption.

Once these complexities are identified, you need mitigation plans to deal with each of them, Samara says.


Rule 3: Remember the family on-board.

This has to do with ensuring team members are engaged for the long journey. That is difficult to do, and people often have issues or questions about the program they don’t share.

To deal with this, Samara said companies need to analyze various stakeholders in terms of backgrounds, priorities and more, using that to guide communications. (That sounds like a big task.). Companies also need a compelling change narrative – why we are doing this, and what the end state will look like -  she added.

Rule 4: Watch your gauges.

In short, you need to regularly monitor to ensure you are still on the right route (health checks). That in turn should involve in-process metrics. One approach: create an in-house “champion network” of leading team members.

I am generally not a fan of “cutesy” metaphors (here, planning transformation as a roar trip) but this mostly worked. But with 89% of such programs failing to meet expectations, companies clearly need a better plan for the planning initiative itself, and these rules are a reasonable place to start.

I think I will leave it there. Have a great weekend.


What is your reaction to this review of Gartner 2024? What would you add? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.

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