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Recognizing, Learning from Leaders

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | May 30, 2014



Last week, I was in Phoenix for the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, where I heard the announcement of Gartner’s 2014 Supply Chain Top 25. The purpose of Gartner’s research initiative is to raise awareness of the supply chain discipline and how it impacts business—important for both Gartner and APICS.

The top five organizations are as follows: Apple, McDonald’s, Amazon.com, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble. The Supply Chain Top 25 rankings comprise two main components: financial—which includes return on assets, inventory turns, and revenue growth—and opinion—from supply chain professionals and Gartner researchers.

Gartner analysts point to three supply chain trends for 2014. First, supply chain leaders understand and support the fully contextualized customer. “An enduring trait of leading companies is that customer needs and behaviors serve as the starting point for go-to-market and operational support strategies,” Gartner reports. “The best of them present simple, elegant solutions to their customers, driven by conscious supply chain orchestration behind the curtain.”

Next, digital and physical supply chains are coming together to deliver total customer solutions. “Leading companies have moved past selling only discrete products or services to their customers and are now focused on delivering solutions.”

Lastly, Gartner echoes what I wrote last week: Supply chain plays a large role in business competitiveness.  It is an essential part of growth strategies. “Leading supply chains are enabling this growth both organically and through successful [merger and acquisition] integration,” Gartner reports. “At the same time, supply chain leaders are emerging as trusted and integrated partners to business groups.”

Becoming a supply chain leader

In the three trends Gartner highlights, consider the importance of synchronization as it is defined in the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework: “Synchronization is the simultaneity and speed of movement of information, funds, and goods or services through the supply network. Scheduling the supply chain effectively requires a clear demand signal to reach the extremities of the chain. Knowing when products are needed, where the inventory buffers will be held in the supply chain, and what the flexibility requirements and rules of engagement are greatly increases the overall performance of the supply chain.”

As you think about building a leading supply chain, consider how APICS can help. We have ongoing relationships with seven of the companies on Gartner’s Supply Chain Top 25. These relationships, which are managed through APICS Corporate Services, range from enterprise memberships to group education and certification. More information about how APICS Corporate Services can assist your organization is available here.

APICS 2014 also gives attendees the opportunity to hear directly from some of those companies listed on the 2014 Supply Chain Top 25. For example, Caterpillar’s Brent Ruth, the MACH 1 deployment supply chain team lead, will be speaking about safety stock essentials and finding that right balance between keeping inventory low and exceeding customer expectations. Caterpillar is number 23 on the Gartner list. Learn best practices from companies such as Caterpillar, Coca-Cola (number 10 on the 2014 Supply Chain Top 25), Moen, and Conagra Foods at APICS 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 19–21, 2014. 

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