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Collaboration with c-suite needed to ‘wake up’ supply chain

Many supply chain executives are not leveraging their c-suite counterparts to improve supply chain functionality and transform it into an engine for new growth, according to a report – Drive Your Own Disruption: Is your supply chain in sleep mode? –  from Accenture. The research surveyed 900 supply chain executives and found that more see their function, in two years, as a cost efficiency driver (60 per cent) or a support function (68 per cent) rather than as a competitive differentiator (48 per cent) or a growth enabler (53 per cent) within their organisations.

Supply chain not just support function

The study identified the following factors as key supporters of growth within the company:

  • the supply chain function needs to be a key differentiator, not just a support function;
  • organisations need to judiciously adopt new technologies where needed in the supply chain;
  • supply chain executives should aim to increase communication and engagement with other c-suite executives.

Accenture's Mo Hajibashi commented: “Supply chain executives should take no comfort in being categorized as a support function. 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.”

Could c-suite play greater role in supply chain?

However, the research suggests that four out of five supply chain executives think that the chief information officer or chief technology officer are key stakeholders in achieving a more effective supply chain. The CEO, chief operating officer (COO) or chief financial officer (CFO) are perceived as having a lesser role, even though the CFO plays an important part in making technology investment decisions, while the COO has a key role in designing the operating model.

Some of the major challenges facing supply chain executives include:

  • the absence of a clear business strategy (cited by 43 per cent);
  • an inadequately skilled workforce (48 per cent); and
  • incompatible legacy systems (44 per cent).

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