Food for Thought: Why don’t Supply Chain successes make the news?

January 28, 2014


We all know that Supply Chain Management is a growing critical business function for any company that brings product to market and that wants to compete in the global marketplace. Additionally, companies that offer services (i.e. non manufacturers) also must have those sophisticated Strategic Sourcing initiatives to hold the line on their internal indirect spend.

Supply Chain Management, through educational and technological improvements, has become a significant major driver in business innovation in the 21st century. There’s a reason why Steve Jobs tapped Tim Cook, (formerly Apple’s C.O.O), to replace him in 2011: Cook was credited with the development of the extremely sophisticated global Supply Chain that allowed Apple’s innovative products to dominate the Consumer Electronics marketplace, making it the largest company in the world by market capitalization. Neat stuff I would say.

But despite Supply Chain’s relentless growth and innovation and increasing prominence in the C-Suite, it doesn’t  make the news as often as it should, especially compared to flashier business functions like IT or marketing or sales:

  • When marketing within a company pulls off a coup, such as when companies’ social media arms took advantage of the Super Bowl power outage, they get huge public recognition. Marketing success stories have a tendency to go viral – and media outlets pick up on them all the time.
  • The activities of Product Development in many industries also have a tendency to make the news. There’s an entire industry dedicated to reporting on product launches in Consumer Electronics, for example. This isn’t to say that Apple’s Supply Chain is as important as its product offerings, but it’s just interesting that it doesn’t see the same limelight.

I get that the day-to-day changes and innovations of Supply Chains the world over isn’t exactly dramatic. The successes of Strategic Sourcing/Supply Chains are often built around incremental, yet influential efficiencies and initiatives, and applications of strategic intelligence, as opposed to tent pole events. Our hypothesis here at Argentus is that it’s inherently less “sexy” therefore less newsworthy so it sometimes gets glossed over.

 So it seems that Supply Chain only usually works its way into the news when a Supply Chain failure of some sort takes place, either through poorly identified Suppliers or Supplier error. Think about the horse meat scandal in Europe that dominated the news there for months. Or, closer to home, the Lululemon see-through yoga pants fiasco that made the company a laughingstock briefly in the spring and sent its stock price plummeting. These are splashy news events. But the solutions to these Supply Chain failures, for example better Supplier transparency and reporting, happen out of the limelight and are when the real important work happens in Supply Chain Management BUT these things done by talented professionals in SCM will likely not make the news. 

Dare we take a moment to self-promote! Here goes. This leads us to a possible slogan: “Hire the best SCM talent professionals with Argentus, and keep your Supply Chain out of the news.”

At Argentus, we’re specialty recruiters in this high demand specialty field. We find the talent but we do not live it on the front lines like you do. Although we live and breathe our vertical every day, we’d like to hear opinions from our network. How are Supply Chain and its Professionals viewed in the bigger picture? Does Supply Chain get its fair due in the wider world? If not, why do you think that is?

Over and Out

Bronwen & Sam



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