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Digital Supply Chain Institute: Developing Practical Tools for Supply Chain Executives

June 2, 2017
Categories: CREATe Experts, Global Supply Chains, Supply Chain

How will the evolution of the digital supply chain transform organizations and the way business is conducted? This topic was the focus of a research initiative last year from the Center for Global Enterprise (CGE). CREATe was a partner in the initiative, which involved gathering insights and case studies from senior supply chain executives in leading organizations around the world. The outcome of the research was the publication of a report – Digital Supply Chains: A Frontside Flip, which defined the digital supply chain of the future.

The initiative has led to the creation of a Digital Supply Chain Institute (DSCI) within the structure of the Center for Global Enterprise (CGE), with CREATe as a partner organization. Learn more about the Institute in this video series featuring Chris Caine, president of CGE and other research participants from companies around the world.

The DSCI focuses on examining the evolution of enterprise supply chains in the digital economy as well as the creation and practical application of supply chain management best practices. The work conducted by the Institute is founded on insights from DSCI member corporations and a broader Global Experts Group (GEG), a team made up of the top supply chain executives from around the world. The corporate executives act as the DSCI’s principle sounding-board for the development of applied management learning and practical tools. CREATe’s Craig Moss is a director of the Digital Supply Chain Institute and has been involved in developing tools and leading executive thought leader sessions, first for the initiative and now the Institute.

In the Frontside Flip report, a Digital Supply Chain (DSC) is defined as a customer-centric platform model that captures and maximizes utilization of real-time data coming from a variety of sources. It enables demand stimulation, matching, sensing and management to optimize performance and minimize risk.

The Institute identifies four key management areas of the digital supply chain:

  • Demand: real time continuous engagement with customers and integration with marketing and sales
  • People: increased collaboration inside the company and with key companies in the supply chain – develop new knowledge and skills
  • Technology: enterprise/platform agility, demand stimulation and matching visibility and improve data utilization
  • Risk: Identify and mitigate risks using predictive analytics – develop a competitive advantage

The DSCI Research Agenda for 2017 will produce tools and reports on the following topics:

  • Digital supply chain performance metrics and a maturity model for measuring the transformation from a traditional supply chain to a digital supply chain
  • Practical applications of Blockchain technology in supply chain models
  • Use of real time big data to enable demand sensing, stimulation and matching
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the associated opportunities and disruptions

Throughout 2017, the DSCI is holding ‘Executive Leadership Forums’ which bring together the senior supply chain executives from DSCI members and the Global Experts Group, as well as executives from their suppliers and customers. The first forum took place in Hong Kong in March, with the second scheduled for Zurich in late June. CREATe’s COO Craig Moss was involved in leading the forum. The session addressed the key topic areas defined by the Institute. Here is an overview of discussion points:

  • Performance metrics for the digital supply chain: The group discussed the scope of areas to measure and the priority measurements within Demand, People, Technology and Risk. The evolution from traditional supply chain metrics to digital supply chain metrics was considered, along with predictive measurements and a shift to shared metrics with internal groups and among those in the supply chain.
  • Blockchain (a new form of database architecture that allows two or more parties, operating through a trusted network, to increase the speed, security and accuracy of settlements on financial and commercial transactions): Executives shared that currently there is a low level of awareness and activity around blockchain, however, the overall sense is that blockchain technology is going to have a major impact in the near future, more so than people had predicated even six months ago. Still, there were some concerns about the adoption rate and the value of blockchain if there are few participants. That being said, participants discussed that initial practical uses could include speeding order/shipment reconciliation and associated payments using ‘smart contracts’, anti-counterfeiting through authenticity verification and increased supply chain visibility and improved data integrity.
  • Real-Time Data: The executives discussed the critical integration of unstructured data such as social media and customer comments. It was noted that some of the major challenges to the use and integration of real time data are data ownership, sharing and related terms of use. It was suggested that the use of real time data will be greatly facilitated by and linked to AI, especially in areas like predictive analytics.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): Many suggested that for AI to be effective it needs clean big data and companies are already having trouble using the data they have. This dilemma will only escalate as new data sources are introduced. Areas of AI use include building predictive models for demand and risk, automating quick, repetitive tasks currently done by people, interactively collecting customer data, and language translation. It was also noted that the use of AI has close links to performance metrics for real time data, particularly in areas such as predictive analytics.

Learn more about CGE and the Digital Supply Chain Institute here.

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