Supply Chain is the New Frontier of Competitive Edge in Business

April 16, 2015

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Supply chain has made a long trek from the purely transactional function it was in the past to the highly-valued strategic asset and integral business function it is now for organizations around the world. This is in part due to the changing face of the global business landscape, which has prominently boosted the reputation (and need) for supply chain, including the shift to customer-centric business models, e-commerce, and trends in sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Supply Chain Management at MIT, has recently explored this topic in a series of articles, including “How a Profession Went From Zero to Hero” and “The State of Supply Chain Management”. In these posts, Sheffi details how supply chain is driving changes in the broader economy and the level to which supply chain sophistication is creating strategic benefits for challenges like reducing inventory and improving product availability.

One thing is clear: the opportunities for skilled supply chain professionals are vast. It’s an in-demand niche that can reap big rewards for companies and practitioners. Here’s how supply chain, in the right hands, can create enormous competitive advantage for your business:

A streamlined supply chain creates flexibility and reliability in a marketplace with similar products. In an era where many products can be copied or reverse-engineered, this makes a big difference. Quality, release date, availability, market positioning, and distribution become marks of distinction instead, and that’s where supply chain efficiency can improve a brand’s goodwill in consumer eyes.

Retail is being redefined by e-commerce, and efficient distribution centres can make or break its success. With juggernauts like Amazon, Etsy, and Alibaba changing how people shop and interact with products, the value of highly responsive distribution centres increases. The rise of e-commerce paired with complex and swift integrated supply chain models for online purchasing can both challenge and complement the business of brick and mortar options.

Supply chain acts as a bridge between diverse areas of business, improving process and reducing silos. Functionally, supply chain operates as a connector, bringing together business functions. It can help break down isolated departments and wayward performance metrics. Very separate corporate functions can exacerbate miscommunication. A smart supply chain mitigates an organization’s “bumps in the road” for logistics and increases a brand’s potential for agility and ROI.

Reshoring is bringing manufacturing back to North America. The rapidly evolving nature of supply chain management is driving a return of manufacturing to Canada and the United States after decades of production flourishing overseas in developing countries. It’s also boosting middle class incomes and job opportunities. Ultimately, the reshoring movement is giving supply chains more knowledge, and knowledge is power. This is in part due to a change in transportation and labor costs abroad, as well as a concern for environmental impact (carbon emissions) and risk reduction from political and economic instability or natural disasters.

As the economy changes, and as supply chain becomes more sophisticated, its benefits for companies become more dynamic. The job market is only getting hotter for strategic, accredited supply chain professionals… and that’s where our firm can lend a hand. Whether you’re a potential employer or candidate, Argentus is here to help.


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