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Supply chain executives now have an unprecedented opportunity to drive a deep shift in supply chain operational performance.

No longer relegated to the factory floor, robots are supplementing and augmenting human roles in such knowledge-intensive areas as supply chain planning, customer order management and inventory management.

The combined power of humans and machines is already improving operational efficiency. In time, it will deliver significantly better business outcomes.


Key findings

Ninety percent of supply chain executives agree that over the next three years supply chain performance will rely to a great extent on their supply chain talent. But the supply chain workforce must move beyond traditional roles and responsibilities.

Significantly better supply chain operational performance lies ahead—and what a shift it will be.

  • The collaboration between humans and machines will create new sources of value for the business. For example, most executives (65 percent) expect the combination of technology and humans to enable more forward looking and strategic decision-making to support business goals.

  • Humans will need to become internal entrepreneurs, or “intrapreneurs”— dynamic innovators who can proactively identify growth opportunities and manage the associated risks. One critical role ripe for intrapreneurship is supply chain demand and supply planning.

  • Advanced technologies will be needed to support the human intrapreneurs tasked with driving future innovation and growth. The most promising opportunities for value realization will align operational goals, i.e. reliability and efficiency, or speed and flexibility, with customer characteristics and business objectives. Targeted investments can then be made to increase the competitiveness of the supply chain.

2017 World Economic Forum insights

Digital Transformation Initiative Chemistry and Advanced Materials Industry

Through 2025, The Chemical and Advanced Materials industries are looking at a $310 billion to $550 billion in cumulative economic value, stemming from a single source—digital technologies.

Looking beyond the implications for a dramatic shift in supply chain workforce performance, leaders are also seeking ways to embrace entirely new business models, including extending traditional product offerings with digital components. Many are also closely monitoring pockets of digital disruption, including digitally accelerated biotech enabling the direct-route production of chemicals, or disintermediation by platform or marketplace players.

To learn more about the digital implications Chemicals and Advanced Materials companies should be considering now, check out the report Accenture produced for the World Economic Forum on Digital Transformation in the Chemical and Advanced Materials industries.


Integrating robotics, AI and prescriptive analytics technologies into the supply chain workforce today will help position you to realize the potential from revolutionary technologies tomorrow.

  • Attract your future workforce. Identify exceptional talent, including people who may never have considered a career in supply chain before, to fill the roles of intrapreneurs and innovators.

  • Extract the robot from the human. Redirect the “liberated” human worker to focus on the customer, on service level promises and on new products and services.

  • Place your innovation bets. Map opportunities to existing technology solutions according to their maturity and availability. Start exploring their potential, talk to their inventors and consider pilots. Think big, but start small.

Integrating robotics, AI and prescriptive analytics technologies into the supply chain workforce today will help position you to realize the potential from revolutionary technologies tomorrow.

Who we are

Bernd is a managing director in Accenture Strategy, responsible for driving the Accenture Strategy service portfolio in the German speaking countries including business, function and technology strategy, digital strategies, operating model designs, organizational change and innovation. In addition, he leads our global Chemicals & Natural Resources Industry Practice where he focuses on clients globally to address strategic issues around competitiveness, digital disruption and workforce of the future. Bernd is based in Zurich. 



Michael A. Meyer is a Managing Director with more than 20 years of experience in the consulting business. He leads the Operations Consulting practice of Accenture Strategy in the German-speaking market. Michael is focusing on operating model transformations, performance improvements in supply chain operations, organizational realignments and business process management. He has a varied project background in automotive, industrial equipment, life sciences and chemicals. He is experienced in working in multi-cultural environments, according stakeholder alignments and making transformational changes happen. Michael holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering (Dipl.-Ing.) and Business Administration (Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing.) from the Technical University of Munich. He is located in Munich, Germany.

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Francisco helps organizations around the world transform their human capital capabilities by defining and developing dynamic HR strategies and organizational, operational and talent models. He specializes in assisting clients in the Automotive, Banking, Consumer Goods and Services, Insurance, Retail and Utilities industries. Francisco is based in Madrid.

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