Recent Accenture research shows that Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) are pioneering digitally enabled solutions, moving beyond efficiency to help drive customer centricity and growth. But even as they press forward with innovation, over 50 percent identify lack of change-ready culture as their biggest impediment.

To reach the customer centricity and growth success CSCOs will need to drive new levels of collaboration and productivity in their teams, reinventing their workforce, reimagining how humans and machines work together, and elevate their people.

We see two main actions that will help:

  • Empower people: Automation and new-skilling
  • Collaborate from the outside in

Leaders and laggards

Our survey of 1,350 executives showed that:

  • Leading companies have scaled more than 50 percent of their digital initiatives (proofs of concepts) and earned a return on digital investments greater than the average industry return on digital capital and return on digital investments.
  • Laggards are companies who have earned a return on digital investments less than the average industry return on digital on scaling more or less than half of digital proof of concepts.

Empowering people

Leaders have embraced automation, using it to free their human workforce from repetitive tasks, and are significantly more enthusiastic about investing in automation at scale—skilling their people for the digital world. The dual investment unlocks greater value than either could alone.

However, not all new aspects of digital supply chains can be addressed by reskilling. CSCOs will need to hire specialists, including analysts, value chain architects and orchestrators, amongst others.

Chart showing how SC&O Executives among Leaders are more keen to invest in Automation at Scale and New Skilling for Digital than their Laggard counterparts.

Leaders are significantly more enthusiastic about investing in automation at scale and skilling their people for the digital world.

Fresh talent for new ways of working

Organizations that sustain the benefits of change tend to do three things well:

  1. Build an infrastructure for change
  2. Hardwire the change, systematically
  3. Invest in the change capability

Combining their workforce’s resources with the best their ecosystems have to offer, leading CSCOs are reinventing the modern supply chain. No longer simply an efficiency engine, they are earning their seat at the C-suite table by becoming a key force for growth.

Human + machine for agile manufacturing

Bosch Rexroth introduced agile manufacturing in more than 100 factories. Single-arm robots serve as automatic production assistants, managing complex tasks like assembly and welding. The robots are also highly reconfigurable. When product demands on its Homburg factory changed, the existing line was modified over a single weekend.

While automating, the company also is working to enable flexibility and adaptability for its human employees. “ActiveAssist” workstations feature cameras, projectors and touch screens to display context-relevant information for each employee. The workstations provide specific instructions, visual cues and error correction during the assembly process of an individual part.

Pablo Caballero

Managing Director – Products and Capability Network Supply Chain and Operations, Management Consulting


Raghav Narsalay

Managing Director – Global Research Lead, Industry X.0


Shammak Banerjee

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Talent and Organization


Shashank B. Gupta

Senior Principal – Supply Chain and Operations, Industry X.0

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