RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • The mover has become the shaker, as a few elite Supply Chain & Operations leaders move beyond cost efficiency to help power company growth.
  • Our research shows one in five companies—our Leaders—are doing three things very differently from their peers.
  • Leaders are building the digital enterprise, putting customers at the heart, and collaborating in and out of their organization.
  • We share the "secret sauce," how they do what they do, as an imitable recipe for growth.


It’s rare to hear a CEO mention “growth driver” when speaking of supply chain or operations. Despite typically being known for cost efficiency, a few select Chief Supply Chain Officers and Chief Operating Officers are inviting themselves to the growth party.

Our research shows one in five companies—our Leaders—are doing three major things differently from their peers. And it’s those three things that are delivering growth. What do Leaders do differently?


Despite typically being known for cost efficiency, a few select Chief Supply Chain Officers and Chief Operating Officers are driving the growth agenda.

Leaders build, not just buy in

Most Supply Chain & Operations executives buy into the concept of a digital enterprise. Our Leaders help build one, using digital innovation to power business growth.

Investing for supply chain and operations intelligence. But they don’t invest in digital for digital’s sake. Instead, they are infusing intelligence throughout their supply chain and operating model to enable a composite picture of customers. Using this picture, their teams build hyper-relevant products and services, tailored for individual customers.

Creating the new workforce. These leaders recognize that their human workforce has a new coworker—intelligent machines. And they invest in upskilling and reskilling, freeing their human workers to do what they do best—create, innovate and problem-solve.

Avoiding one-off technology solutions. Leaders are investing in technologies in concert toward specific outcomes and capabilities, not one-off point solutions. They wrap these capabilities into platforms that fuel customer relevance.

The result? Leaders are exceeding their expected return on investment when scaling digital innovations.


Leaders exceed their own expectations

Chart showing percentages of current and expected number of leaders and laggards

Leaders are exceeding their expected return on investment when scaling digital innovation while Laggards fall short.

In 2015-2018, supply chain Leaders scaled digitally enabled solutions at a rate surpassing the sales function, despite its reputation for being a digital pioneer.
Chart shows percentages of supply chain Leaders scaling digitally enabled solutions

Leaders make customer experience a team sport

Our leading Chief Operating Officers and Chief Supply Chain Officers are reaching out to their C-suite counterparts. While that may sound simple, it changes everything. They formalize this collaboration with digital platforms that unite multiple teams to head toward one North Star: customer centricity.

Customer centricity is an intricate way to describe companies putting customers at the heart of everything they do. At our leading companies, no one function owns the customer. Rather, the C-suite collaborates to get it right with high-value customers. No siloes allowed.

Leaders play well with others and the customer wins

Leaders are all about partnering in an ecosystem. While only 64 percent of Laggards pursue becoming ecosystem orchestrators, almost 78 percent of Leaders do. It follows that Leaders are also embracing open and co-innovation more than other companies.

The Laggards in our survey might partner, but it’s traditionally—with suppliers or a few independent experts.

Leaders have widened the net, inviting technology partners, universities, innovation incubators—even competitors—to their search for growth. They know it’s the key to making innovation happen—fast.


64%

64% of Laggards try to orchestrate an ecosystem

78%

Versus 78% of Leaders who do the same

Becoming a Supply Chain and Operations Leader

If your company is not where the Leaders are yet, closing the gap is within reach. Major change usually starts with a simple conversation. Our Leaders are not waiting for their CEO to initiate that talk, they are driving it instead.

Leaders are using digital with a purpose, collaborating for customer relevance and focusing on the right outcomes to drive growth. Making the most of their rightful place at the C-suite table, leading Supply Chain & Operations executives are changing the growth game.

About the Authors

Don Schulman

Senior Managing Director, Lead – Supply Chain and Operations​


Kris Timmermans

Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Supply Chain, Operations & Sustainability Strategy


Gary Hanifan

Senior Managing Director – Supply Chain Operations & Sustainability Strategy, Accenture – North America


Raghav Narsalay

Managing Director – Area Research, Accenture

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