APICS is the premier professional association for supply chain management.

Supply Chain’s True Power

by APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE |   0 | 0 | 0

If you are a frequent reader of Operations Management Now, you can easily tell what publications I read on a regular basis: Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, the Economist, New York Times, and other mainstay periodicals. This week, one of the Operations Management Now team members brought me something from a new publication, Quartz.  Normally, I would dismiss a publication like this one as “fringe” and “self promotional,” despite its description as “for business people in the global economy.” But the article got the whole team’s attention. Even the subhead screams for a comment: “The independent republic of the supply chain.”

The authors, Parag Khanna and Ahmed el Hady, describe supply chains in their March 19 article as having become “an autonomous force in the world. Like globalization itself, they are greater than any one nation or economy.”

Their language gets even more dramatic. “The supply chain’s ambition is not territorial aggrandizement, but access to markets. They seek to oversee the greatest share of the flow of goods, capital, and innovations. Expanding and improving supply chains is more important than boosting trade for the future of global growth,” Khanna and el Hady write.

How do the authors attract wary readers into this complex supply chain story? They talk about defective yoga pants and the European horse meat scandal. After all, people are reading about those things and seeing stories on them in every major media outlet. Khanna and el Hady describe superbly why these business stories are, in fact, supply chain stories.

This is a complicated article that explains the power of supply chains and the businesses that use them. It’s not all positive. “Accountability means knowing where the buck stops__something that is increasingly complicated in a supply-chain driven world. Governments can’t fully control what they do not own. They need supply chains to carry out their own functions, and they need to partner with corporations and [nongovernmental organizations] if they want to protect and serve their citizens,” Khanna and el Hady write. “A franchise business can be more accountable due to strict rules set forth by a powerful parent company.”

Benefitting people

This is an interesting read for any business person, whether in supply chain and operations management or not. The article indirectly underscores the importance of supply chain education. Because supply chains are increasingly powerful and complicated, they need knowledgeable professionals directing them. Not only does this knowledge benefit business; but, as the article adeptly describes, it benefits global citizens, as well.

APICS is the global leader and premier source of the body of knowledge in supply chain and operations management. Our focus includes superior training, internationally recognized certifications, and comprehensive educational resources. It’s an exciting time in this field. APICS supports organizations and professionals as they learn to harness this supply chain power and make a difference in the world. Visit apics.org to see how APICS can help you.


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  1. David Gaskill April 01, 2013, 01:41 PM
    Pondering Abe's questions, as well as the recent hubub over drones, reminds me of Star Wars - Episode One. In this movie, the "Trade Federation" utilizes its "battle droids" in an attempt to subjugate a planetary government. Could this be the ultimate conclusion of Quartz's "Independant Republic of Supply Chain"?


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