Fifteen years ago, Kevin O’Marah, a leading analyst at AMR Research, had a brilliant idea. He devised a way to highlight leading teams, players and practices in corporate supply chain using a Top 25 list.
The concept was based on top team lists popular in sports. The goal: to elevate the stature of supply chain in boardrooms, investment circles and corporate communities. Fast-forward to today and the reveal of this list and its broader findings has become part of the supply chain community’s annual rhythm.
I first encountered the Top 25 in 2007, as a supply chain practitioner. It certainly grabbed my attention at the time, though I would have never imagined eventually writing and revealing so many of these top supply chains, as an analyst. Now, as my colleague Mike Griswold takes over this research, I am honored to share the findings from my final Supply Chain Top 25.
One of the most useful aspects of this research is identifying the macro trends in supply chain and highlighting the related accomplishments of the community. In 2019, three key trends stand out where leaders are separating themselves from the rest of the pack.
Personalization at Scale
Improving customer experience, with a sharpened focus on personalization, is a top priority for every company. Personalization at scale, however, is a key differentiator for more advanced companies.
Personalization at scale requires a level of agility, supply chain flexibility and underlying technological capability in order to pull it off. For instance, L’Oréal’s Lancôme cosmetics business is using flexible, local manufacturing and agile logistics to enable 48-hour delivery of foundation makeup designed to specifically match the consumer’s skin tone and skin structure.
Leading companies in the Supply Chain Top 25 have found the right balance. Where personalization is valued, they digitally capture customer requirements, flexibly convert designs to physical products and packages, and quickly get them into customers’ hands. Where standard product portfolio variety is good enough, they are ruthless about only keeping the best performers in the mix.
As supply chain leaders face new challenges, such as fostering local talent for advanced skills and minimizing plastic waste creation and ocean pollution, they must focus on cooperation with an ecosystem of external partners to tackle problems of this scale. This change in perspective and approach is part of leading companies’ broader shift to run more purpose-driven supply chain organizations.
Examples of ecosystem partnership abound across industries. Dell has successfully oriented its whole supply chain around serving customers through sustainable solutions in order to leave a “Legacy of Good” in the world. It is partnering with non-governmental organizations and other companies in high-tech and beyond to reduce and reuse plastics, metals and other materials in its products and packaging.
Driving Business-Led Digital Strategies
A wave of automation and augmentation has sped through corporate supply chains over the past five years and companies that grace the top of the Supply Chain Top 25 tend to be early adopters of new business concepts and technologies. For those furthest along in their digital supply chain journey, a return to the fundamental concept of business-led digital transformation is taking place.
These leading supply chains are focusing on initiatives that understand and elevate the customer needs and the operational performance points needed to support them and work backward from those requirements to the process and technological transformations that will enable them.
Underpinning this work is a transformation in the roles being hired into supply chain, such as data scientists. Larger still is the reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce to develop, use and partner with new digital solutions in their day-to-day jobs.
Congratulations to the Gartner 2019 Supply Chain Top 25 and Masters!
All of the companies making this year’s Supply Chain Top 25 and our five longtime leaders (AKA “Masters”) have impressive stories to share with the broader community. More information on the Top 25 can be found on Gartner’s public website.
On stage in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, we heard from Kathy Wengel (Johnson & Johnson), Stuart Pann (HP Inc.) and Josue Munoz (Colgate-Palmolive) as each received awards for their companies’ all-time high positions on the ranking. All spoke to the power and spirit of collaboration in the supply chain community, and we couldn’t agree more!
Stan Aronow, VP Distinguished Analyst, Gartner Supply Chain