Supply Chain Technology’s Role in Managing Disruption and Mitigating Risk

Bradley Ramsey Author
 Explore Key Findings From the 2022 Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/XPO

From ongoing chip shortages, to geopolitical tensions, to extreme weather as a result of climate change, supply chains are facing risk from all sides. 

This has translated directly to financial impacts across logistics, direct materials, sales, labor, and other associated costs. Across all industries and verticals, it’s also readily apparent that these issues are not confined to one aspect of the supply chain. 

During the 2022 Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/XPO, June 6-8 in Orlando, Florida, it was clear that a holistic solution is needed. Disruption has revealed numerous vulnerabilities within existing systems and solutions, but it also creates an opportunity to leverage this new awareness for a competitive advantage moving forward. 

With end-to-end supply chain digitization as the goal, the biggest question on everyone’s minds is “where do we begin?” 

Several top leaders sought to answer those questions during the event, including Frank McKay, SVP, Chief Supply Chain & Procurement Officer at Jabil, and Don Hnatyshin, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain at Molex. The two supply chain execs joined Supplyframe CMO Richard Barnett onstage during the conference for an interactive discussion exploring how the electronics industry can move beyond the global chip shortage to create a smarter, more connected future. 

Although recovery will likely remain uneven through the rest of 2022, there are several steps manufacturers and OEMs can take now to build resilience and gain an edge over the competition

4 Strategies to Transform Disruption into a Competitive Advantage

Supply chain technology in 2022 is focused on the “perfect storm” the industry is facing surrounding risk from all manner of factors. While many agree that a digital strategy is the path forward, far too few are actively planning and executing on this goal. 

As our industry seeks to define resiliency through the scope of our unique challenges, technology can provide valuable data, real-time insights, unparalleled visibility, and more. 

Here are four strategies to identify and leverage supply chain technology in your organization’s digital transformation, based on our discussions during the 2022 Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™.

1. Define “Resilience” For Your Organization 

While resilience was a major theme at the event, the term takes on a different form across the electronics value chain. Resiliency looks different for each organization in terms of both the tactical and long-term strategic steps. 

We sat down with several leaders from both Supplyframe and other organizations at the event, to discuss their perspective on this topic. As you seek to define resilience in your organization, consider this perspective from Frank McKay, SVP, Chief Supply Chain & Procurement Officer at Jabil: 

“We have a mature, trusted, and deep relationship with Supplyframe. When I think about how we do business together, it’s all around data. Supplyframe certainly assists Jabil in building a more resilient supply chain that allows us to communicate more effectively and more efficiently with our suppliers, which I believe helps us build a more resilient supply chain.” 

Frank McKay, SVP, Chief Supply Chain & Procurement Officer at Jabil

Further discussion during the event revealed that organizations are facing a combination of both external and internal factors as they seek to define what resilience looks like in their organization. Internally, they are asking themselves if they need to adjust how they manage supply chains, but we’re also seeing more awareness around the need for outside-in intelligence that considers external factors and other sources of data. 

Identifying the capabilities that contribute to your organization’s version of “resilience” allows you to seamlessly move into the following steps and take action that will benefit your supply chain as a whole going forward. 

2. Create a Benchmark to Establish a Starting Point 

One of the most important steps towards true digitization of your supply chain is a deeper awareness and shared visibility across the organization. Far too many companies have siloed teams and departments that rarely, if ever, collaborate cross-functionally. 

At a base level, once the goal of “resilience” is defined, organizations should break down these silos and establish a benchmark by gathering input from everyone across all departments. An internal audit of your challenges and capabilities will provide deep insight into where opportunities lie, which can then connect to your overall resiliency goals. 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How do you define and measure risk? 
  • What capabilities are most important to you? 
  • What technologies are you currently using, where are the gaps?
  • Are your teams siloed, or do you enable cross-functional collaboration?
  • What specific issues are causing the most financial impact to your organization?
  • What plans do you have in place to execute a digital transformation? 

Many organizations struggle with establishing a starting point, and this stops any true digital transformation before it can begin. This approach allows for a comprehensive understanding before moving forward. 

3. Start With Your Suppliers 

When the time comes to start enacting real change through the application of supply chain technologies, it’s best to start at the foundation of your supply chain: your suppliers. Discussions at the 2022 Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ were focused on managing risk at the supplier level through technology that incorporates dashboards, alerts, and analytics based on real-time data sources. 

The goal here regarding suppliers is three-fold: 

  • Better analyze supplier risk 
  • Respond to risk faster and more effectively
  • Increase resilience overall at the supplier level

As we begin to connect the dots here between these goals and the technology that’s already available, we can address each of these needs in due fashion. For the first point, the ability to monitor risk factors in real-time through a connected data source is crucial. 

Furthermore, analysis of future forecasting and broad industry or commodity trends can allow for proactive response to risk, as opposed to the firefighting mentality, which leads to expensive and rushed decision-making. 

For the second goal, technology provides the basis for established workflows and response methodologies when risk arises. The aforementioned monitoring and real-time intelligence provides the basis for industry alerts based on organization-specific factors. These alerts provide an early warning sign that triggers an earlier, and more structured response. 

All of this leads to the final goal, providing your teams with the data and insight they need to become aware of risk before it’s a larger issue, make decisions backed by this knowledge, and ultimately respond in a proactive manner. 

Achieving this type of visibility with your suppliers is an excellent first step, but true digital transformation comes from having this kind of visibility across your entire supply chain, thereby encouraging cross-functional collaboration and higher margins thanks to reduced risk. 

4. Leverage Current and Emerging Technologies  

Everything thus far has been leading to our final step, which empowers all the steps that came before it as well. The connection between managing disruption and technology is apparent, but without a proper understanding of your needs, narrowing down the solutions that best fit your organization’s unique challenges is an impossible task. 

With everything in mind, the time comes to draw parallels between the needs of the organization, and the capabilities of modern supply chain solutions. If the pandemic has taught supply chain leaders anything it is that the old way of designing products and sourcing materials is inadequate for the dynamic environment in which we all compete. If the industry is to overcome today’s obstacles while building resiliency to deal with the next one, design engineers, sourcing teams, and supply chain leaders must look to solutions that bring greater intelligence, connectivity, and speed to their design-to-source processes. 

The status quo of spreadsheets and disconnected software is no longer adequate in today’s fast-paced design and manufacturing cycles. As innovators look to improve their processes, here are some ways new and emerging technologies can help accelerate design cycle times while bringing new insights to sourcing teams: 

  • Leverage real-time insights to gain greater visibility into pricing and availability of all relevant commodities
  • Adopt solutions that bring intelligence to your new product introduction processes in order to understand risk and opportunities in the BOM and bring resilience to the point of design
  • Ensure greater continuity throughout the entire product lifecycle by using intelligent systems to monitor end-of-life status of components, identify inventory issues, and risk
  • Deploy integrated quote response and bid award management to ensure the right suppliers are identified and onboarded to support your specific cost and material needs

As much as 80% of a product’s lifetime risk is “locked-in” during the design phase. In order to create greater resilience while managing spend, intelligence must be injected at the point of the design. By breaking free of spreadsheets and static supplier catalogs, product engineers are equipped to make better decisions and sourcing teams can create greater resilience through the assurance of supply. 

Ready to Take The Next Step? 

Whether you were an attendee at the 2022 Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo or not, today’s organizations are facing a dire need for awareness and visibility into risk and disruption in their supply chains. 

Our discussions at the event led to new insights and understanding into how the industry can create resiliency that fits their unique needs. If you’re interested in taking the next step towards a resilient supply chain, but unsure of where to start, contact us today to schedule a meeting with one of our industry experts and let us help you define what resiliency looks like for your supply chain. 

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