The View from the Top
By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE
At many companies, one major strategic goal is to surpass all competitors in the industry. But, what happens once this has been achieved? What do successful companies do to maintain their success—or increase their lead? And, what can the rest of us learn from these strategies?
Samsung has grown rapidly to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. As the New York Times reports, Samsung Electronics sales were $190 billion last year—about the same as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon sales combined. It shipped 215 million smartphones, about 40 percent of the world’s total. Its 470,000 employees help make it the eighth-most valuable brand in the world and comprise about a quarter of South Korea’s entire economy.
But Lee Kun-hee, the company’s chair for the last 20 years, is not resting on his laurels. “We must resist complacency and thoughts of being good enough, as these will prevent us from becoming better,” he wrote in a letter to employees. Samsung has become good at spotting trends, then outspending and outpacing the competition. Its vertically integrated business model encompasses everything from research to manufacturing to marketing. But, as Eric Pfanner and Brian X. Chen write, “suddenly, the company is the leader, with the onus of creating the next trend.” The authors call it the “fast-follower problem.”
“In the past, [Samsung] didn’t need a strategy because they always had somebody to look up to,” says Chang Sea-jin, author of a book on Samsung and the electronics wars. Now, Samsung is forced to anticipate and decide the future direction of the industry.
Lee helped make his company into what it is today by enabling its executives to see that its deep reach into its supply chain is a strong competitive advantage, the Times authors write. Is its strong supply chain the key to Samsung maintaining—or extending—its lead?
Looking at the road ahead
As you read this, we are on the verge of beginning a new year. Samsung’s story illustrates not only the power of forward thinking, but the strength that a strong supply chain can bring to an organization.
One way you can empower your career and your company this year is by expanding your supply chain knowledge and earning the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. This widely recognized credential will demonstrate to your employer that you have a mastery of current supply chain management practices.
If you are already APICS certified, or are looking for ways to complement your supply chain training, consider attending an APICS or chapter event. In 2014, APICS is expanding its seminar series and will offer many one-day events on topics such as principles of manufacturing resources planning (MRP), supply chain risk management, and principles of sales and operations planning (S&OP). Many dates and locations are already set. Visit apics.org/events to learn more about these opportunities to advance your professional development.
Thank you for your engagement with and support of APICS in 2013. We hope that 2014 will be even more exciting.