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Your journey to an Intelligent Supply Chain: where to start?


November 3, 2022

While I was on the phone the other day, the person on the other end of the line asked me about the state of the global supply chain, why it’s in such disarray and what’s being done about it. Although I was excited to hear this question about a topic so important to me, it did come from an unexpected place.

I’ve known this person for decades, and it’s been quite a while since those two words in a row – “supply” and “chain” – came up in conversation. The person on the phone was my mother. My mom was asking me about global supply chains. Before answering, I thought to myself, “Well, supply chain is mainstream now!” It struck me in this conversation that everyone has concerns and questions about the supply chain.

What’s happening?

The environment is difficult out there, with several issues colliding at once. Some key factors impacting progress include: 

  • Global supply chains of both yesterday and today have constantly been dealing with issues, but these have been amplified and accelerated in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 94% of Fortune 1000 companies are seeing supply chain disruptions from COVID-19, emphasizing the need for more resilient operations.
  • Increased direct-to-consumer e-commerce is forcing companies to speed up deliveries and improve the customer experience. In turn, this has spawned an era of hyper-competition and industry convergence that has forced enterprises to change their operating models to meet these customer expectations… drastically, in many cases.
  • Overarching macro-trends, such as the sharing economy, sustainability and electrification are requiring companies – large and small – to re-think how they design and manage their supply-and-demand operational networks. And it seems as though no one is willing to wait – now is the time.

How can we help?

At Accenture, we are partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to solve these challenges with our clients. First, organizations are asking us to help reimagine their supply chains. Second, businesses need help to build them. After all, these supply chain systems are so complex that single entities simply cannot do it on their own. Third, companies want to develop their supply chains while considering sustainability as well as simplification for their customers, themselves and the planet. That’s why we take a human-centered and data-driven approach that encourages our people and clients to continuously create and innovate.

This approach is framed by three main dimensions that make up what we call the Intelligent Supply Chain:

  1. Customer centricity: Turning the end-to-end value chain and ecosystem into a Customer Experience focused growth engine.
  2. Zero-based mindset: Achieving superior supply chain performance at the right cost to unlock funds to fuel growth.
  3. Responsible operations and organizations: Creating sustainable operations that earn stakeholders’ trust and provide the license to operate and grow.

Achieving value with Accenture and AWS

Together, we are employing leading technology capabilities, such as Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Forecast and AWS Data Exchange, to address some of the most important use cases across the supply chain operating reference (SCOR) model. These solutions can be tailored at both the industry and sub-industry levels to tackle the unique challenges our joint clients face.

Consider these examples:

  1. A leading high-tech hardware company with a global footprint has relied on an outsourced supply chain with external partners for manufacturing, transport, warehousing, cross-border customs and other activities. The client lacked a single universal source to track the status of inbound orders and shipments, which resulted in sub-optimal customer experiences due to delivery variability and inaccurate promise dates. We leveraged AWS technology to enable an intelligent control tower, delivering improved visibility and control.
  2. A global heavy industrials manufacturing company relies heavily on external suppliers to provide the right parts at the right time to build its machines and fulfill customer orders. Historically, there has been limited visibility into fluctuations in the number of parts the company could expect to receive from its suppliers, which led to uncertainty and higher variability. The client sought a way to increase visibility into issues that might impact suppliers such as COVID-19 spikes, weather events and other external supply chain pressures. Using a range of AWS technologies, our solution ingests that external data and fuses it with supply requirements and the suppliers’ projected item availability.
  3. A leading connected fitness company has a direct-to-customer distribution model, which amplifies the importance of the delivery and installation experience. However, the organization lacked a data-driven approach to inventory balancing between distribution centers and downstream last-mile fulfillment locations, impacting the successful matching of supply and demand. This resulted in high DC-to-DC transfers, increased domestic truck spend, out-of-stock situations and sub-optimal customer experiences. Accenture used AWS machine-learning predictive models to arrive at the optimal allocation plan.

Powered by cloud, our partnership with AWS allows us to unlock more value faster for companies by combining our capabilities to help the world’s supply chain get back on its feet.

To learn more about Accenture Supply Chain & Operations, visit here.


John Atherton

Global Lead – Supply Chain & Operations, Accenture AWS Business Group