Supply Chain Officers Must Face Five ‘Urgent’ Risk Areas, Gartner Says

By: SupplyChainBrain

ORLANDO—From nature to military operations, the ability to offset weaknesses against predators is a key survival strategy. Today’s supply chain leaders should take note.

That was the opening message Monday at Gartner Inc.’s Supply Chain Symposium, where analyst Ken Chadwick called on attendees to prepare offset strategies for five “urgent challenges”: cognitive overload, customer experience, accelerating technology, cyber risk and energy instability.

“Offset strategies are a proven way to shift the competitive landscape by applying unconventional or untried approaches to leverage individual strengths,” said Chadwick, vice president analyst with Gartner’s Supply Chain practice. “If the offset strategy focuses on the most critical matters of our time, supply chain leaders can reap immediate rewards.”

Cognitive Overload

The pandemic, its resulting supply chain disruptions, and the shift to remote and hybrid work models increased the complexity of work and changed collaboration and decision-making which made many employees feel overwhelmed. Instead of adding more complexity to the situation, supply chain leaders should aim to simplify how work is done.

“We’ve seen great successes with constrained decision-making. This model deliberately reduces the number of people involved in a decision and the time people have to gather information and make the decision. CSCOs can also outsource some decision-making to artificial intelligence,” Chadwick said.

Customer Expectations

To offset rapidly evolving customer needs, supply chain leaders must shift from a “just-in-time” mindset that primarily focuses on internal cost and efficiency goals, to a “just-the-customer” mindset, focusing externally on customer needs. This shift will provide supply chains the opportunity to reposition its commercial contribution to the business to one that delivers both optimization and drives business growth.

Energy Instability

Disruptive events, such as the Texas ice storm in 2021, showed that relying on a singular supply of energy can cause failure. Humanities’ need to consume energy is also having an impact on the environment. One way for CSCOs to address this challenge is to enable distributed, sustainable energy management, where the power demand of factories, fleets and other parts of the value chain is supplied by a distributed network consisting of renewables, micro grids and battery storage.

Technology Change

According to Gartner research, the biggest challenge facing supply chain leaders in the technology space is not necessarily the technology itself. It is embracing and adapting to new technologies and envisioning new ways of doing business. That’s why CSCOs must be at the forefront of change and inspire their employees to use and trust the next generation of technology.

Cyber Risk

Gartner research has found that over 80% of companies experienced a significant cybersecurity incident in the last two years. This development is driven by connected technology networks and cyber-physical systems, such as sensors and smart vehicles. Supply chain leaders can react to this evolving risk by partnering with the chief information security officer to build a cybersecurity framework.

“CSCOs cannot control if, or when, they get hit by a cyberattack. What they can control are their own decisions on investments and actions. Supply chain leaders must realize that cybersecurity is not just an IT issue. It includes making decisions on partners, conducting realistic risk assessments and integrating a cybersecurity perspective into everything they do,” Chadwick said.