Skip to main content

Scheller News

Supply Chain Executive Summit
Supply Chain Executive Summit

2017 Supply Chain Executive Summit.

More than 45 leading supply chain professionals from around the Southeast gathered at Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business to share their experiences in this ever-evolving industry and learn from top experts about the latest trends and innovations impacting supply chain management. "We have come to a juncture where it's not just one technology that is impacting the supply chain; it is an entire paradigm shift and it's happening now," Dr. Soumen Ghosh stated as he kicked off the 2017 Supply Chain Executive Summit titled "Technology-Enabled Supply Chain Strategies."

Four of Scheller College's top research professors led a dynamic presentation on the impact of recent technologies and customer behavior shifts affecting supply chain strategy - front end flip, harnessing data, next generation logistics, value creation and continuing education.

Dr. Soumen Ghosh launched the summit with the proposition that technology is not the only force driving change — the customer is as well. "Customer needs are driving the market changes," he theorized. "The technology is just an enabler to meet the current mandates." He went on to explore the current decline of brick and mortar retail and offered that this is a result of the changing shopping preferences driven by technology. Gen Y and Gen Z grew up with the internet at their disposal. Instead of waiting to be "sold," they personally seek out the information they need and go directly to suppliers, completing the entire research, shop, and purchase cycle online. They don't require — or want — a salesperson to "sell" them or provide answers to their questions. They read and often prefer online reviews and get feedback from peers on social media. A glut of information is their "norm," and the traditional supply chain model no longer works. A result of this fundamental change in consumer shopping behavior, says Ghosh, is a "front end flip" in the supply chain. The front end is now totally digital and the back end is physical.

Dr. Ghosh went on to explain how customers' needs and wants drive the technology that needs to be created. True innovators, such as Amazon, first ask what the customer wants and then proceed to create the technology to make it happen. This paradigm shift in the supply chain has led to Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, where we have integration of physical and cyber systems. The new supply chain is no longer linear. Now, a digitally connected, intelligent, and scalable network is today's norm.

After examining the changing supply chain, Dr. Saby Mitra offered his views regarding the importance of harnessing data for supply chain optimization. While access to useful data has increased over the past decade, surveys indicate that people who believe that they are getting a business benefit out of the data is decreasing. Why the disconnect? Mitra offers, "We focus so many resources on the production of analytics — generating the analytics — but there is a true gap in corporations using the analytics to make meaningful viable business changes." In other words, the real disconnect is in the consumption — not the production —
of analytics. So what can companies do differently?

Dr. Mitra

Instead of simply diving into the data and mining it, Dr. Mitra suggests corporations start with their Key Performance Indicators (e.g. on-time delivery, cycle time, inventory turns, etc.). First, look at the metrics you want to improve, determine alternative actions that can improve those metrics, then ask what insights data analytics can provide on those actions and what else you will need to do to ensure success. Inserting this step first will lead to more relevant and useful data analytics. Dr. Mitra believes in the importance of using data to lead to innovation and business changes, but notes that incorporating a more deliberate approach leads to greater value and improved corporate performance.

Dr. Benoit Montreuil shared his groundbreaking ideas for a hyper-connected supply chain that utilizes the physical internet. Dr. Montreuil began by sharing his definition of the physical internet. While the digital internet deals with bytes, the physical internet deals with physical objects — how they are moved, stored, realized, supplied, and used — leading to efficient and sustainable interconnected logistics. It's a super highway of sorts for the movement and storage of physical objects.

Montreuil suggests that the physical internet will help shrink the inefficiencies currently plaguing the global supply chain through hyper-connectivity and a system in which supply-chain logistics are enabled by an open, intermodal system and horizontal collaboration. Players across the supply chain will share in logistics and transportation and the containers and packaging will be adapted to meet these needs. While making the physical internet a reality will require an extreme level of collaboration and a profound change in business mindset, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

Dr. Manpreet Hora discussed the importance of understanding and managing value from both financial and operational perspectives at a firm level. Hora asked how we can link existing and emerging technologies in supply chains to overall firm value?  What is the technology really helping us with? It's less challenging to invest in the latest, greatest technologies, but more challenging to ensure translating the benefits of these technologies into value creation at a firm level. In fact, many of these technologies turn into fads and simply don't stick because they are not value-driven.

When making digital investments, Dr. Hora recommends the REC thought process.

R: Risk. What risks might this technology bring (for example, during implementation)?
E: End-to-end supply chain. How does this technology not only impact a function or an activity but the end-to-end supply chain?
C: Client experience. Have we improved it through this technology?

Digital technology is always evolving, but making smart upfront choices helps drive long-term value.

Companies today face increasingly complex supply chain management issues. The challenge of staying on top of an ever-evolving industry requires staying on top of the latest developments affecting a company's bottom line.

Continue the Education

Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business Executive Education programs focus on helping companies navigate change and increase value through dynamic, active learning programs that build capabilities. "We offer a unique positioning at the intersection of business and technology," says Brian Jennings, associate dean at Scheller College of Business. "Today, that is where the most vexing challenges of business are occurring."

Along with other executive development programs, Scheller Executive Education offers a team-based, five-day Supply Chain Leader Development Program. Participants develop
a comprehensive and holistic focus on capability development along the multiple dimensions needed to continuously drive and improve supply chain excellence. The program can also be customized for corporations looking to collaborate with our world-class faculty to develop their own supply chain leadership programs.