The Digital Supply Chain is the future. The end to end electronic connectivity of all elements of the Supply Chain, as enabled by an extensive array of exciting new technologies, will define all progression over the next few decades. But how does this Digital Supply Chain journey begin?
Simply, this journey begins with a vision. A vision of the objectives, of the end state, and even a vision that is fuzzy but is emboldened by a certainty that digitalization in any and all of its forms is the right direction.
What Does Having a Vision Mean?
Having a vision means more than just having a view, or a viewpoint.
Certainly having a view is important. You want to be able to see the road ahead. But you can only see so far. You can see what is in front of you. And if that becomes the extend of your world view then your world becomes very small and very limited in scope very, very fast.
Having a vision is the ability to see beyond your line of sight. It is the ability to envision what not only can’t be seen, but to envision what others may not even know to be possible or to even exist.
But with, and only with, the framing of that vision the work can then begin to make that vision a reality.
The list of great visionaries in history is long. And while you may not like or support what some of these visionaries achieved, you can not argue with the fact that they had great vision.
A partial list of some notable visionaries, in no particular order, includes:
- Henry Ford
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Steve Jobs
- Thomas Edison
- Galileo Galilei
- Maya Angelou
- Albert Einstein
- Sam Walton
- Marie Curie
- Alexander the Great
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Jeff Bezos
- Clara Barton
- Benjamin Franklin
- Catherine the Great
- Margaret Thatcher
- Christopher Columbus
- Bill Gates
- Joan of Arc
- Julius Caesar
- Queen Victoria
- Elon Musk
- Indira Gandhi
- Sergey Brin and Larry Page
- Isaac Newton
This list could go on to include hundreds and thousands of visionaries. Further it is notable that most of the people who would make the list are names known to the general public.
Far beyond that are the endless numbers of visionaries that are known only to their immediate families or colleagues or businesses. Despite their lack of broad notoriety, their contributions are often just as important as those of the famous and infamous.
Without these people the world would be a much different place. Without their visions, and the realization of those visions, the condition of our lives and our world would be vastly different.
The Digital Supply Chain Vision
Our vision of the future is that of having a Digital Supply Chain running every aspect of every company and institution in every part of the globe.
The Digital Supply Chain involves the end to end electronic connectivity of all elements of any Supply Chain from the lowest tier supplier through to the end customer, inclusive of every element along that path.
This connectivity allows for the automated and intelligent operation of that ecosystem in real time with advanced knowledge, capabilities and information informing the requisite decision making needed for both strategic and tactical planning and operation.
This fully integrated digitalization of the Supply Chain is enabled by an impressive list of evolving technologies including: Predictive analytics, Big Data, Control Towers, Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Autonomous vehicles, Drones, Blockchain, Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, 3D Printing, Cyber security, and on and on and on.
The Future Without a Vision
If we didn’t have our vision of the Digital Supply Chain the future would be more of the same of what we have. And what we have has already been exposed by the Coronavirus pandemic as being highly fragile and problematic, to say the least.
Traditionally Supply Chain has been viewed as a back office function. It involves the people who run the warehouses and place the purchase orders with suppliers, and all of the non-glamourous and boring stuff that goes along with it.
Unfortunately there are a lot of people and companies that still think this way. They don’t understand the importance and power of Supply Chain. They don’t understand how it is perhaps the most critical aspect of ensuring the survival and growth of their companies, and an enabler for competitive differentiation.
Without a vision for the future of Supply Chain things will go on just as they are today. Companies will have limited visibility into what is going on, they will have limited ability to be proactive and to react quickly and decisively, and they will be highly vulnerable to disruptions and disasters.
Without a vision the suite of available technologies will be implemented only sporadically and intermittently, with varying degrees of success. Personnel will not be developed and leveraged for the incredible contributions that they could otherwise be making.
And without a vision our dreams of improving sustainability and climate change and world hunger and Supply Chain robustness and resiliency will never come to fruition.
What’s the message?
We must have a vision for the future of Supply Chain. And that vision is that of a Digital Supply Chain!
All of the great achievements in the history of humankind have started with a vision. Sometimes that vision is clearly stated and sometimes it is cloudy and ill-defined. But underlying it all there is a vision of a better future in whatever subject or area of interest is of importance to the leaders who will define it.
The first step in the Digital Supply Chain journey is that of creating and having a vision.