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IBM’s Smarter Supply Chain Research Study- Part Two

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IBM Global Services sponsored a recent research titled The Smarter Supply Chain of the Future- Global Chief Supply Chain Officer Study.  In my Part One post, I offered some of my reactions to the data reflecting how today’s global senior supply chain executives view their current challenges.  They included survey results that indicated that tremendous shifts in cost-related and other fundamental operational initiatives appear to be occurring faster than the many organizations can keep-up, which should be a rally call for tools that can overcome latency.  Supply chain risk management has dramatically risen in gaining executive attention, but these same executives sense a lack of consistent organizational approaches, or link to performance objectives.  Supply-chain wide visibility remains a top concern, but seems to be losing executive-level commitment because of frustrations with cross-organizational process obstacles or lack of firm management objectives.

Deeper within the detailed report the authors point out that the role of Chief Supply Chain Officer is emerging as a cross-line-of-business position reporting directly to the CEO.  That statement had better catch your attention since some years back it was IBM that was first to coin the term of Chief Information Officer (CIO) as a direct report to the CEO.  At first, there was some skepticism as to the viability of such a role, but look around today and the role and title of CIO is a cross-industry standard.

Chief Supply Chain Officer (SCCO) may well be a future role, but pay close attention to how the authors describe the required management skills.  “Since supply chain networks are rarely the responsibility of a single entity or decision maker, the Chief Supply Chain Officer will also need to be chief collaborator. He or she will need to be an expert at bringing together stakeholders and facilitating joint planning and risk mitigation”. The authors later go on to state: “Supply chain leaders must be capable of optimizing global networks of assets and talents….. must have an end-to-end understanding of the business, a broad view of external risks and the ability to manage holistically to produce optimal outcomes”. That to me is the conundrum, since most of the current responses in the SCCO survey (coomented on in the Part One post) reflect that while senior managers may have some of these competencies, they are clearly not exhibiting all of these skills.

What role in today’s global organizations comes closest to being able to fulfill these skills?  Is a CIO, who has had to balance internal and external objectives, foster collaboration among conflicting stakeholders, as well as mitigate internal and external risks?  Is it the senior strategic sourcing or procurement professional, who’s role is externally focused toward insuring supply, but may have not have complete exposure to internal stakeholder collaboration.  Similarly, is it the senior logistics or transportation leader?

Whats your view?  Which of these constituencies is on the faster track to CSSO?  I certainly have my own views but the notion of the blogsphere is to generate discussion.  Let’s see if we can get a constructive dialogue started.

Bob Ferrari

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