The Supply Chain Renaissance Readiness Poll!

Supply Chain Renaissance Readiness

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We believe that we are on the verge of a Supply Chain Renaissance. A period of time in which people, technologies, cultural demands and amenability, and motivation will all conspire to launch a long period of rebirth in Supply Chain.

While we discuss what this means in our article “The Supply Chain Renaissance Has Begun“, we thought we would conduct a poll amongst our readers to understand their readiness for this period of renewal.

Here we present, and interpret, the results of our polling.

Polling

We conducted our polling amongst our readers, including our network on LinkedIn and Twitter. Respondents covered a wider variety of industries. As with any poll the greater participation the great the statistical accuracy of the results. For our purpose here we present the results as of this writing.

The question we asked was simply “The Supply Chain Renaissance! Where is Your Supply Chain?” We were looking to understand at which operating state our viewers considered their companies to be at. As such we provided 4 options for responses:

  1. Stuck in the Middle Ages
  2. In the Industrial Revolution
  3. Existing in the Modern Age
  4. Soaring into the Future

Our response options were intended to be represent the evolutionary steps of the Supply Chain condition.

A company “stuck in the Middle Ages” can be viewed as operating with antiquated tools, processes and beliefs. A company “in the Industrial Revolution” has made progress but they are still a century behind in their evolution. A company “existing in the Modern Age” is advanced and functioning at a level consistent with our times. And a company “soaring into the Future” is embracing and implementing new technologies and redefining the future for everyone.

The response options provided a continuum of existence and progression such that any respondent should be able to reasonably place the state of their company in one of those positions.

The Results

Our expectation before we launched the poll is that we would find the majority of people landing their companies in the “Modern Age”, with a smaller number in the “Industrial Revolution” and the “Future” state areas. The result we got was somewhat different:

Our respondents considered that almost 20% of their companies, that’s 1 in 5, were stuck in the “Middle Ages”. About 50% were in the “Industrial Revolution” stage. One third was in the “Modern Age”. And no one was soaring into the “Future”.

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This was not what we were expecting at all. One in every 5 companies was characterized as being so far behind as to be considered operating in the Middle Ages. And half were only operating as well as what we would have expected in the Industrial Age. And no one was launching forward into the future.

What did this mean for Supply Chain Renaissance Readiness? For one thing it did confirm that we were at the very, very beginning of the Supply Chain Renaissance.

Interpreting the Results

To think that 20% of companies are in the “Middle Ages” was surprising on the one hand, but then again maybe not. Here at Supply Chain Game Changer we find a dichotomy amongst what content our readers are looking for.

On one hand people are looking for content on the basics of Supply Chain, while at the other extreme people are looking for advanced content and expert advice and expertise. So the result we got probably reflects that reality.

A lot of companies are still looking to understand what Supply Chain is. They don’t have the expertise, the tools or the management support. They are doing their best to get by and keep things running. And that’s about all they can do.

Having half of companies in the “Industrial Revolution” phase was not encouraging either. It suggests that many company are still operating with old paradigms about Supply Chain only being a back office function. They have the basics in place to run Procurement organizations and Warehouses with rudimentary processes and systems. But that’s where their progress has stopped.

The “Modern Age” is occupied by one third of our respondents. At this point in the poll it is good to know that there is progress being made. Supply Chain is advancing and this is the group that will be positioned to move forward into the “Future”.

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But the fact that no one felt they were “soaring into the Future” is a sign that there is a lot of work yet to be implemented, if not started. It may be true that with companies still embroiled in the disruptions caused by the pandemic, they are still predominantly focussed on tactical execution issues and continuity of supply. These real time dynamics have causes strategic investments to be put on hold, at least for now.

In fact the global reach of the pandemic has probably caused a setback for all of these companies. While their ways of doing things in the past may have been sufficient for their purposes, the disruption in every Supply Chain caused by the pandemic has caused everyone to revert to the basics.

When you are chasing parts shortages and logistics delays its hard to focus on anything else. It’s analogous to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you aren’t satisfying your basic needs you can’t focus on your higher needs and desires.

Conclusion

History will show that we are now entering a period of the Supply Chain Renaissance. Market, Environmental, Governmental, Economic, and Societal dynamics have created the conditions and demands for an extended period of dramatic change and advancement in Supply Chain.

That companies are still stuck in the past can partly be attributed to the ongoing global pandemic, but there is a danger of ongoing denial as well. But it also comes down to leadership. The Michelangelos and Leonardo da Vincis will emerge over time. And it will be these leaders who will characterize the Supply Chain Renaissance for generations to come.

If you have any thoughts on our Supply Chain Renaissance Readiness polling, or if you’d like to tell us how your company is positioned, then comment here or email us at [email protected]

Originally published on March 1, 2022.
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