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The Best Business Advice for Your Supply Chain From Successful Leaders


We talk a lot about digital transformations and how vital they are to stay ahead. But transformations are about more than staying technologically up-to-date and relevant, they’re about adopting a new mindset and revolutionizing the way you do business.

From practical guidance to contemplating the bigger picture, here are a few quick tips from those who have proven to know what they’re doing.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft

business-advice-learningAs supply chain expert Bryce Boothby explained in his series Making the Case for a Digital Transformation, technological upgrades and continuous improvements are critical to long-term success. While the task of figuring out where to begin may be a tall order, the strongest internal cases to CxOs are backed by customer pain points. There are several key metrics to consider, such as boosting turnaround and delivery speeds and offering greater transparency through service status updates.

Key takeaway: If you need to choose a point of focus and priority for your transformation, start with what your top clients are telling you they lack.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart

It’s vital in today’s competitive climate to aim past correcting pain points. As “king,” brands must service their customers as a ‘market of one.’ That means building loyalty by exceeding expectations through unique services and customizable fulfillment options.

Technological upgrades must therefore move away from generic rule-building and focus on dynamic modeling and configurable workflows. Platforms that enable such customer chain control – or control over each customer order within the supply chain – empower brands to isolate, manage, and optimize each individual shipment to delight consumers and partners.

Key takeaway: Instill FOMO (fear of missing out) in the hearts of your non-patrons. Invest in configurable and dynamic technology that will help you delight your “bosses” beyond their standard expectations.

“The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.” — John D. Rockefeller Jr.

The supply chain industry has no shortage of Control Towers to help multi-enterprise networks collaborate, transportation management solutions to promote efficiency, and Distributed Order Management (DOM) systems to assist with multi-channel flows and ecommerce operations. Selecting the right fit for your business needs may feel overwhelming, but a ‘successful’ solution is one that handles its common function uncommonly well.

All Control Towers offer visibility, but it’s rare for one to span the entire network beyond transportation and also offer in-app control. Most reputable TMSs will attempt to help you deliver faster, but they are also batch-driven. Few are natively multi-modal or order-centric to isolate and optimize every order – even expedites. A typical DOM will offer integration to a commerce server and basic logic to carry out the fulfillment process; few will truly broker multi-channel orders from optimal sourcing to on-time and in-full delivery, while minimizing costs. And, while most solution suites claim to be unified, none are actually unified unless natively built to work together.

Key takeaway: When comparing solutions, focus on the unique features that set each option apart and determine which speaks most to your business needs.

"The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do." – Anonymous

business-advice-world-changersEvery year it seems there’s a new trending technology: RFID, IoT, Blockchain. We tend to think of these advances as ‘disruptive,’ and though they are indeed novel, the real disruption lies in how a brand chooses to apply them. Whatever the technology, the real world-changing moments occur when tools inspire people to innovate. When leaders start asking “what else can we do with this technology?”

When approaching a digital transformation, don’t just select technology that will help you do what you already do better. Think about revolutionizing processes wholesale. Let software and technology inform and inspire process. For instance, the way NASA leveraged 3D printing to cut out superfluous operations, rather than attempt to carry out the same function more effectively.

Key takeaway: Make digital transformations about actual transformations. Progress and innovation are driven by “crazy ideas.” Don’t be afraid to challenge norms, legacy systems, and traditional frameworks.

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

Technology moves fast and its impact is cumulative. The longer you put off a digital transformation, the greater the gap you create between your current system and what’s currently on the market, not to mention what your most enterprising competitors are using. Wait too long and you set yourself up for a rip-and-replace.

Customers will also start to feel the difference between the standard level of performance and the operational excellence offered by competitors who leverage better systems. The same goes for your partners. Businesses are networks, so enterprises are only as strong as their weakest link. Don’t wait until your customers and partners grow dissatisfied and begin looking elsewhere.

Key takeaway: Trust and loyalty are hard to regain once lost. Delaying necessary upgrades puts your business at risk of no return.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

business-advice-lifeWe talk a lot about the mercurial market, but it’s usually not the consumer driving the change. Forward-thinking businesses are the ones continuously pushing the boundaries and disrupting the status quo; consumers just welcome or reject their ideas. New conveniences, like Uber or Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store, eventually become the standard that others must catch up to.

As a business leader, you have a vision for your brand. But as long as you’re playing catchup to others’ ideas, you’re wasting precious time living someone else’s vision. The sooner you invest in technology to streamline processes and boost efficiency, the sooner you can get back to doing what you love most: solidifying your niche in the market, getting creative, and creating the change you want to see in the world.

Key takeaway: Disrupt and let others keep up with the precedent you’ve set.


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