Knowing what products need to be where–and how to get them there
Bob Schug, senior director, IT and Shared Services lead at Mondelēz International believes this simple truth was amplified by the pandemic and is driving supply chain leaders to build resilience, relevance and better business performance into their operations by integrating data and intelligent technologies. His company is one of the world’s largest snack companies with operations in 160 countries. Schug joined more than 150 business and industry experts at Accenture’s Future-Ready Forum and unpacked what successful leaders are doing differently to thrive in this time of compressed transformation.
During his forum fireside chat, Schug shared insights about the changing role of supply chains and how building intelligent operations is opening opportunities well beyond managing costs.
According to global research, 81% of supply chain leaders said the pandemic was their greatest stress test. It exposed how much the supply chain can make or break a company’s success. What’s more, the research reveals that organizations with highly mature operations are considered future-ready and are, on average, 1.7 times more efficient and 2.8 times more profitable. These organizations also improve their talent mix, customer experiences and ecosystem relationships.
Collaboration is the recipe for success
One of the biggest hurdles to mature operations are internal silos that prevent collaboration between business and technology. In fact, research shows that innovative companies make it a priority to break down silos between departments. Only 10% of supply chain leaders say this collaboration is happening at scale today. Yet by 2023, half of them expect to see it at scale.
For Schug, this means having a cohesive, shared strategy across internal teams that balances people, process, technology and data. Teams also need an agile mindset. Given the pace of change, teams should constantly consider how to move fast, see value quickly and establish platforms to build core capabilities with technologies that can deliver the insights the business needs.
How to get data right
Making sense of vast amounts of data is overwhelming, yet critical. But instead of starting with data, Schug and his team begin with the problem they need to solve. For example, they may need to analyze consumer demand over next year or how they can improve service to customers.
Then, his team considers the data needed by asking a host of questions. What data is already in hand, and what is its structure, frequency and granularity? They should consider whether it is internal, external or even possible to find. How can they gather it, store it and refresh it? And importantly, how can they use it to create a competitive advantage at the grocery store shelf?
This method has led to entirely new ways of approaching problems. It has also uncovered a big opportunity in unstructured data, especially in consumer sentiment to help predict what consumers may be looking for next. The team uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze their data and generate the best set of insights for informed decisions.
The power of partnerships
Ecosystem relationships are also critical to supply chains. They don’t run well without them. And increasingly, ecosystems partners are offering the speed and scale leaders need to better compete.
From raw materials to conversion to warehouses to stores, it takes supply chains assisted by technology, data and talent to confirm the right products are on the shelf when consumers look for them. As technology evolves, leaders look to ecosystem partners to keep pace with the latest advances as well as talent.
According to Schug, ecosystem partners are critical to gain break-through technology fast, add expertise, pilot a new idea or fill capacity needs. He sees these needs continuing to grow as supply chains have become physical, digital and increasingly connected.
Given the pace of change, there is a new urgency for companies to be able to flex with customer demands. Leaders are building intelligent supply chain operations that support their organization’s strategy while being agile enough to pivot based on real-world needs.
As AI, automation, machine learning, analytics and data continue to advance supply chain capabilities, Schug can envision a network of supply chains in ways not seen before. He believes integrated supply chains, assisted by technology and with a foundation of accurate, shared data, will be critical to unlocking more value and elevating the game.
In other words, whenever a consumer looks for a product – whether on a digital or physical shelf – it’s there.
Take the next steps
To evaluate your own operations maturity, take the Future-Ready Operations Maturity assessment. Answering 10 questions provides you with a report you can use to better understand how to tackle compressed transformation challenges by building an intelligent operation. You can also listen to the full recording here.