Technology Focus

Finally, leaders need to focus on the sophisticated use of technology that enables new business value to be unlocked, rather than simply digitizing existing processes. Finding the sources of slow or manual processes or making decisions based on cultural norms rather than data are essential. Resisting the temptation to invest in technologies that provide marginal performance improvement and identifying the sources of strategic value

Table 9.1 Traditional vs. Digital Leadership Behaviors

Focus Areas

The Traditional Supply Chain

Digital Supply Chain



The Digital Supply Chain

Leadership Focus

Manage to traditional metrics. Strategies target internal SC performance

Vision and strategy formed by digital unconstrained by current operations

Supply Chain integrated into business strategy driving top line and bottom line performance improvements

Operational Focus

Perfect order targets met while inventory levels managed and balanced

Integrated vision; supply chain as a source of competitive advantage, new digital processes and business models,

Supply Chain helps drive customer satisfaction and revenue increases through sensing and stimulation actions

People Focus

Individual functional performance measures; Plan, Source, Make, Deliver

Sponsorship of organizational behaviors interventions and rewards.

Digital Talent Strategy development and execution

Cross-functional collaboration that improves internal and external enterprise performance. Digital savvy workforce

Technology Focus

Forecast accuracy- manual processes

Strategic investment in digital supply chain technologies

Sophisticated use of loT, sensors, data, analytics, artificial

intelligence and machine learning

instead is key. In all of these dimensions the cultural barriers to implementing change and realizing the benefits of actions and investments are as significant, or maybe even more significant, as technological complexity. Overcoming these barriers is one of the most important attributes of the DSC leader (Table 9.1).

The Role of the Chief Supply Chain Officer

This book has taken leadership focus on the transformation of the supply chain to a more integrated digital business. Supply chain leaders are faced with an environment not unlike the information technology leaders from a decade ago. In the decade following the turn of the millennium, digital business, lead largely by digital native companies, such as Amazon, established many of what have become the rules of modern business. As traditional firms struggled to adapt and adjust to the new environment, the role of technologists came to the forefront in many organizations. Technology, now viewed as the key to unlocking new business processes, moved away from being simply an organizational service function, to becoming integrated into business strategy. This transition is largely complete in most firms. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) now occupies a strategic c-suite role alongside the serious leadership of the firm and helps guide strategy and make decisions about technology that places the firm at a competitive advantage. It is as much externally facing as it is internal. It is expected to help the firm unlock value and innovate. It is expected to be proactive and lead the firm to new sources of customer satisfaction and delight. In a similar fashion, the role of the supply chain leader is now in the same position as that of the CTO a decade ago. To truly lead the supply chain in the world of digital business, firms will need the same kind of innovation mindset. Chief operating officers and DSC leaders will need to be proactive and find new ways to go beyond traditional fulfillment. Business models that integrate technology, as well as operations, require a leader who is comfortable at a strategic level with both. This is the new Chief Supply Chain Officer. It is a set of capabilities, as well as a mindset. It is a journey and a destination for just about every firm on the planet. The challenge will undoubtedly open up supply chain leadership to a new central role as a driver of brand value.


  • • Supply chains are coordinated networks that deliver the right quantities of products and services customer want and need when they demand them. COVID-19 has created, and in some cases revealed, some dramatic problems with existing supply chains. Demand forecasting models do not take into consideration dramatic disruptions, such as pandemics.
  • • In the long run we will see more investment in supply networks that are more resilient, can balance global and domestic sourcing and capacity, and have an increased tolerance for investments in higher levels of inventories for some items. Investors and senior leadership teams may have to tolerate a more balanced set of measures for firm performance.
  • • Prior to COVID-19, investing in digitalization was considered optional, today it has become essential to operational survival in several areas. As a firm you can take advantage of this ongoing disruption. Now is the time to take advantage of technology, data, and automation to create a more DSC.
  • • DSC action plans are unique to individual leaders, as well as to their organizations, functions, and departments. Establishing and monitoring performance metrics, both traditional and digital, should be defined, and mechanisms for gathering, calculating, and reporting should be put in place.
  • • Supply chain leaders should anticipate barriers or challenges as they develop action plans as it is unrealistic to expect any business process, or technology changes to be welcomed and embraced without some resistance.
  • • To truly lead the supply chain in the world of digital business, firms will need an innovation mindset. The emerging and enhanced role of Chief Supply Chain Officer will emerge as central figures in driving brand value.


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