APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management.
APICS Supply Chain Management Now

Strategy and the Supply Chain Advantage

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE - June 14, 2013

Supply chain: it’s what Hewlett-Packard (H.P.), a $120 billion-revenue company, relies on to stay agile and give customers what they want in the personal computer, server, and printer markets.

According to the New York Times tech blog “Bits,” H.P. has shifted its strategy from buying most of its semiconductors in bulk from Intel to using multiple chips from a variety of suppliers, such as Nvidia, known for its graphics chips; Texas Instruments, which produces audio and video capability;  and ARM, which makes chips that go in mobile phones. This action enables H.P. to move quickly to produce the products that customers want.

“In this battle for customers, our supply chain and distribution give us a key advantage,” said H.P. CEO Meg Whitman during the May earnings call. In his blog, Quentin Hardy expands on this idea. He says, “The advantage may lie more in ability to put a lot of engineers on different types of products and produce them quickly, reconfiguring supply chains fast when a product hits, than it will on pure pricing power.’’ Hardy emphasizes that the H.P. supply chain already is strong; the company is seeking to use this strength to succeed in a quickly changing market.

Customer focus

Leveraging supply chains to give customers what they want? It’s not a new concept for supply chain and operations management professionals. What’s new is that company leaders, such as H.P.’s Meg Whitman, are noticing. That means experts in this space now need to know how to link supply chain tactics with strategy.

APICS can help. The APICS Supply Chain Strategy Challenges and Practices report is available and free to everyone on the APICS website. It provides understanding about how supply chain strategy is evolving, what the differences are between supply chain management and strategy, how employing supply chain strategic practices can be a competitive advantage, and more. Additionally, the APICS Supply Chain Strategy Folio is available free to APICS members. It digs deeper into the topic by explaining the thought processes and experience of supply chain and operations management professionals when it comes to supply chain strategy. It includes survey analysis to help build strategy alignment at your organization.

You can explore these important and timely concepts even further at APICS 2013, September 29–October 1, 2013, in Orlando, Florida. With the theme “the supply chain experience: leveraging the power of the customer,” the educational lineup promises to offer real-world examples of how companies are finding success with the essential contributions of their supply chain and operations management professionals. Registration is open now at apics.org.

Questions for discussion

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