The Complexities of Global Supply-Chain Management

This past week, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Supply-Chain Management Summit in Chicago, sponsored by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). Most of the conferences I attend are fairly routine. After all, supply management deals with numbers, processes, production, manufacturing and commodities.

That’s how I got to learn about how if one is looking for a great real money online casino Canada has some of the best options on offer. We get practical, real-world knowledge at these sorts of events.

It’s a fairly tame arena. But the recent trend in supply chain management conferences has been more sobering. I’m going to share a few of the more interesting insights from this year’s conference with you.

Dr. Kees Abelsholtz is an outstanding professor of supply chain management at Villanova University. Dr. Abelsholtz is a former VP of Supply Management for Kellogg Company, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world. He was the creator of their highly successful Kellogg Quality Culture Program, which is widely considered the best program in the world at improving supply chain performance.

Like Kellogg, Dr. Abelsholtz is a supply chain guru. He is also a thought leader in the “disruption” movement. In his view, innovation and disruption are not just for technology. The complex dynamics of global supply chains can also be disrupted and improved through innovation. Dr. Abelsholtz’s recent books include Disruption, Success and the Value of Intention.

Dr. Abelsholtz believes we need to change our thinking about the complexity of global supply-chains and drive innovation. He challenges companies to deliberately change the way they approach the global supply chain. He says it’s easy to try to manage things that already exist in the global supply chain. But in order to drive disruptive innovation, companies must start from a blank slate.

His ideas are nothing new. They come from the complexities of a global supply chain and applying large volumes of data to the problem. Dr. Abelsholtz is a great thought leader on this topic, and I’m going to give you three simple examples from his talk.

1. Global Supply Chain Infrastructure

The global supply chain includes ships, trucks, airliners, trucks, warehouses and ports. It also includes government bureaucracies. I attended a number of speeches about developing a supply chain infrastructure for the space industry.

Dr. Abelsholtz said, “Build it and they will come.” Many of the speakers I heard were keen to build supply-chain infrastructure on the back of public investment in developing countries. Their logic is that if there’s already a space infrastructure in place, then there’s a huge opportunity to learn from and build more advanced and efficient supply-chain infrastructure.

Dr. Abelsholtz goes a step further. He says that companies should focus on supply-chain infrastructure for manufacturing processes, supply-chain logistics and for the distribution of materials. Instead of trying to build everything all at once, companies should build the different components on their own, and then ask, “How do we build the global supply chain infrastructure on top of these different supply-chain components?”

Dr. Abelsholtz’s message is simple, but profound. If we can see the global supply-chain infrastructure as a single system, and not as separate components and processes, then we can improve supply-chain performance and efficiency. The challenge is figuring out how to do that.

2. Big Data

Big data and analytics are a big trend in the supply chain. In recent years, companies like IBM have built out massive data-collection infrastructure that’s used in healthcare. Wal-Mart also has a massive global data-collection infrastructure that’s used to develop better supply-chain solutions.

Dr. Abelsholtz described how Big Data will help companies in the future. He says that big data will help companies in the supply chain increase the output, speed and efficiency of their supply-chain operations.

Dr. Abelsholtz’s point is that in order for companies to be successful, they have to apply Big Data to their supply-chain system. But that’s not enough. Dr. Abelsholtz is a big believer in the impact of big data in solving supply-chain issues. He says that Big Data has the potential to transform supply-chain operations in a big way.

Big data provides companies with a way to fundamentally change the way supply-chain management operates. Big data and analytics are being used in industrial operations and supply-chain operations. Many companies are starting to realize the impact of big data and think about how it can be applied to supply-chain management.

Dr. Abelsholtz says that companies need to think about how big data will transform the way they manage their supply-chain, and drive their supply-chain supply-chains into the future.

3. Collaboration

Dr. Abelsholtz has a different perspective on collaboration. He thinks it’s helpful for companies to focus on improving supply-chain performance and efficiency and don’t try to improve collaboration.