• Peter Liddell, Leadership |

The significance of supply chains worldwide is under the spotlight. Customers, and arguably other business functions, were once blissfully unaware of the supply chain’s complexity and importance. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have, however, brought a new awareness of supply chain to the fore.

For many businesses, this has been a difficult awakening. Traditional models built on single suppliers, outdated processes and insufficient consideration of risk were found to be fragile and crumbled under pressure. Two key measures of business success – customers and revenue – both suffered.

Out of disruption comes the opportunity to innovate, and supply chain leaders should seize the chance to change. True integration across the chain, supported by cutting-edge technology and agile processes, can make the supply chain function more resilient and become an invaluable strategic partner in the business. Modernizing the model can manifest tangible benefits across the board.

Shining in the spotlight

If the concept of transformation at such a critical time seems overwhelming to you and your team, you’re probably not alone. But the potential gains are worth it – and those improvements start and end with the customer.

The modern customer demands flexibility: access to products across different markets through multiple channels, delivery at high speed, the choice of local versus global, sustainable materials and practices and the ability to send it all back at the last minute.

Customer-centric businesses responding to these demands make promises that reflect their brand. The supply chain is the orchestrator of that promise. The business needs it to succeed and leaders know that getting the supply chain right is one of the biggest value levers for the future. The time is right to respond and transform.

Creating a more integrated supply chain

Your modernized supply chain demands access to external data, integration with other critical functions, information and human intelligence. Bringing these elements together can help you deliver now and in the future.

Let’s start with integration. Evolve the chain to integrate structure and processes from manufacture to shelf. Create two-way connections to streamline knowledge-sharing across planning, finance, procurement, logistics and manufacturing. The resulting transparency can encourage regular supplier assessment and better management of risk, which can lead to greater resilience.

Wholesale integration should be agile and should also allow leaders to efficiently respond to change or crises. Consequently, these new processes and systems can drive down cost and enhance customer value to help future-proof your business.

Through all of this integration, digitization is your friend. Technology is the cornerstone of transformation in supply chains, and the possibilities are almost endless. Capabilities such as predictive analytics, automation, robotics and the use of big data to extract insights can help reduce friction and improve decision making.

Furthermore, these technologies can enable your business to anticipate disruption and proactively restructure on short notice: your supply chain can make decisions for itself. For example, if there are major disruptions on the road while you are sleeping, innovative technologies can identify traffic congestion and automatically reroute your transportation, providing a seamless experience for your customers.

It’s important to be aware that while technology can help overhaul your supply chain, it needs a human touch to make a difference. For example, subject matter professionals who can align your data to business strategy will likely be indispensable.

This brings you the team of the future. What does the new supply chain organization look like? Which capabilities do you need? In a new digital environment, supply chain professionals need technical skills and domain knowledge, data analytics and interpretation skills, plus the social and practical skills to handle an increasing range of partners and stakeholders. When these talents are combined with a customer-first agile approach and a dedication to delivering on the brand promise, the supply chain function can fly.

Bringing it all to life

Combining all these factors – integration, information and intelligence – to transform your supply chain for the future could be challenging, yet it is achievable. KPMG Powered Enterprise | Supply Chain and KPMG professionals can help you on this transformation journey. Their processes and tools, enhanced by decades of experience, can facilitate a connected supply chain, and can help bring your customer-centric vision to life.

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