It’s a classic case of the left hand not talking to the right. Accenture’s report, “Drive Your Own Disruption,” takes a hard look at the ramifications between obtuse — if any — communication between the c-suite and supply chain executives. According to the report, 60 percent of supply chain workers see their function to serve as a cost-saving role, rather than a growth enabler in the next two years — a small disparity with huge potential to bring a retailer to its knees.
“Supply chain executives should take no comfort in being categorized as a support function,” said Mohammed Hajibashi, a managing director and global supply chain lead in products industry practice at Accenture. “In this digital era where customers demand speed to market and hyper-personalization, these executives need to ensure that their supply chain function is not only a key differentiator but also ensures the sustained growth of their organizations. The fast and efficient adoption of the right new technologies that enable a new way of working, along with increased c-suite engagement with the supply chain function, are the keys to achieving growth via new digital business models that create new customer experiences, craved by the consumer.”
For the research, Accenture surveyed 900 international chief supply chain officers, chief operating officers and other supply chain executives spanning 12 industries from consumer goods to retail and health care. All companies that participated in the survey had annual revenues of more than $1 billion.
Despite their integral role in achieving growth, 48 percent of respondents considered their position as a competitive differentiator. Optics are everything: Interestingly, the research discovered that a large majority of participating executives considered chief executive officers essentially a figurehead. Eighty percent of survey participants said they considered chief information officer or chief technology officer as the key stakeholder.
Given the digital transformation of business across industries, this might be expected despite a chief financial officer’s role in selecting new technology investments. It’s these inept assignations of authority that leads to overwhelming levels of faltering communication and cohesive business strategies, the report suggested.
“The supply chain isn’t seen as a driver of differentiation and aggressive growth. Meanwhile, the chief supply chain officers blame the absence of a clear business strategy [cited by 43 percent of officers surveyed], together with an inadequately skilled workforce [48 percent] and incompatible legacy systems [44 percent], for their function’s inability to drive value for the organization,” the report said.
To overcome these challenges, organizations need to basically consider a complete overhaul of internal operations. The report suggested bringing supply chain executives into the planning process to discern long-term investments and integrating workforces with human employees and AI-powered robots. Perhaps most importantly, the report underscored the necessity of removing legacy systems that perpetuate siloes in lieu of cloud-based options that promote transparency.
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