Supply Chain Horizon – Top Trends

Supply Chain Horizon – Top Trends


What do the experts say about the top trends in supply chain?

At APICS Greater Detroit an important part of our mission is to ensure the supply chain community has the information needed to be successful in our ever changing world.

Last week we hosted Dr. Judith Whipple, Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Faculty Director of the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Program at Michigan State University (MSU). Dr. Whipple shared about the future of integrated supply chains.

Highlights from Dr. Whipple’s presentation on what’s on the supply chain horizon are below.

Dr. Whipple and a team of researchers at MSU recently conducted a survey of 50+ medium and large firms in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa – Focused on strategic initiatives, challenges, and future considerations. We’ve summarized their findings shared by Dr. Whipple last week regarding what’s on the horizon for supply chains.

  • Amazon effect and omni-channel: Respondents shared that Amazon successes due to their data driven approach and same day delivery is impacting retailers. They are juggling omni-channel issues such as a common pool of inventory for e-commerce and B2B customers, last mile delivery and store versus distribution center fulfillment.
  • Organizational design for supply chain: Supply chain managers are considering centralized versus decentralized approaches, some opting to bring everything in-house and others moving to a more decentralized model. The right approach depends on the organizations strategy, with those more focused on customers and products being likely more decentralized and companies focused more on operations leaning towards a more centralized approach.
  • Outsourcing/Insourcing: Research showed some organizations focused on outsourcing and having 3PLs managing warehouses. Other respondents have made investments in their own capabilities to bring supply chain components back in-house and reduce costs where possible.
  • Risk management and sustainability: Supply chain leaders are focused on identifying the weakest link in their supply chains from a risk management perspective. On the sustainability front, key strategic areas include:
    • Environmental with zero waste initiatives and protecting scarce resources
    • Leveraging social media and maintaining compliance
    • Economic with cost minimization and building the business case
  • Talent development: Companies are partnering with universities to attract talent. They are systematizing talent development with concern of getting the right talent at the price they are willing to pay. Companies are focused on talent retention with mentoring and networking opportunities. They are dealing with a multi-generational workforce and looking at offering more flexible work arrangements.
  • Total network design: Companies are looking for opportunities for consolidation including divisionally, regionally and with competitors. Critical factors that are influencing network decisions include taxation, trade pacts, regulation, economic growth and service expectations.
  • Weathering the storms by remaining “change ready”: Key strategies include:
    • Keeping a pulse on changing conditions with tools such as internal innovation council, leveraging supply chain partners and customers for information
    • Postponement and flexible manufacturing
    • Expanding/diversifying customer base
    • Customization – product/package/solution

As the premier association for supply chain management, at APICS Greater Detroit, we know supply chain management is complex and will continue to evolve moving forward. Special thanks again to Dr. Whipple for joining us last week to share the MSU research findings and leading a robust discussion on future trends!

Looking for ways to get connected with your local supply chain community? Join us next week Tuesday, 6/9, for our bi-weekly Supply Chain Community Connect! More info below.

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