Over the last few years, we have been on an accelerated development path as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s been an exhilarating journey as supply chains across the globe have been reviewing their operating models, experimenting, and putting live new ways to use technology, developing people capabilities, and achieving organisational agility.

It’s been rapid; it’s been bumpy, it’s at full throttle, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Yet, the market demands we push forward. So how can you continue to progress whilst keeping a steady hand on the wheel – are there any guiding principles to latch onto?

How about these as five as a starter!

1. Take a long-term view

Plan and think strategically five to six years out. Avoid trying things in a disconnected way and implementing a range of use cases that, when combined, are not compelling and don’t build to that big picture. You may achieve short term benefits with this approach, but you will miss out on more significant returns in the long run. That doesn’t mean you don’t need small wins as part of your roadmap to bring people with you. Of course, you do, but everything should be guided by a clear roadmap.

2. Align your technology investments with a clear vision

Avoid getting trapped into following the latest trends because you fear you may be missing out. This is hard in an environment packed with innovation and shiny new things but keep focused on linking any investments to what the organisation needs to achieve. Ruthlessly align your technology needs with your vision and make sure you use technology to solve the correct problems, not just the more immediate ones.

3. Avoid relying on a few traditional style external partnerships

In the new world, you will need an ecosystem of partners to support your journey, which calls for a different approach to sourcing your technology and solutions. And these ecosystem collaborators will need to learn to co-exist without competing and be quite open on their natural strengths as part of a best of breed approach. It’s time to turn what you know about suppliers and partners on its head – but just a few traditional providers won’t be meet your new needs, whatever is claimed.

4. Upskill your workforce at pace

Digital skills are at a premium, so it’s better to develop the capabilities you need fast and avoid engaging in the open market talent war. Start by developing your own digital champions, kicking off with the capabilities required to use business intelligence tools, then developing the machine learning skills and AI capabilities. Then use these champions to spread these capabilities out across your business progressively.

5. And finally, don’t forget the personal stuff

The power of digitalisation isn’t in doubt. Still, it needs to be paired with even better and more impactful personal interactions. The last thing we need is our digital champions to be alpha nerds if we want them to be the catalysts for the digital capabilities drive. Communication, stakeholder, and change management skills are just as critical if we are to build the human relationships needed whilst automating most things.

I hope these guiding principles help you drive a steady course. And hopefully, I will see you on the other side – assuming, of course, there is one, and if not, use these to power you through the next phase, whatever it looks like!

Five guiding supply chain principles to keep you steady as we enter the full-throttle digital revolution – strap in for a bumpy ride



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