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Job Openings and Hiring in the Eurozone and U.S. Mark All-Time Records


Earlier in the year, one of our published 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains called for a supply chain talent perfect storm, one that we believed would occupy more of the management attention of supply chain and business leadership. From ongoing data, that prediction seems to be holding true at the mid-year mark.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that the number of job openings approached a record 6.3 million at the end of June. According to Reuters, that number represented the highest reported openings since the Labor Department began tracking this metric 16 years ago.

U.S. Job openings in June increased by 179,000 in the category of professional and business services, an area that is closely aligned with supply chain management needs. Our prediction was predicated on the need for industry supply chain teams to take on a more industry advisory focus in their respective organizations to support simultaneous strategic, tactical, and operational support needs, coupled with augmented technology applications that enhance decision-making.

Likewise, in both May and in June, a combination of improved order inflows and rising order backlogs caused the manufacturing sector spanning the Eurozone countries to add jobs at the fastest pace recorded in the past 20 years.

The perfect storm relates to the prospects of 2017 providing even more overall pressures to reduce supply chain costs while supply chain remains agile to increased external events.

Supply chain leaders are faced with difficult choices regarding the existing workforce. Executives who previously established multi-year plans to broaden skills and talent now face the reality that talent needs are now more immediate as available external labor pools are increasingly diminished by market supply and increased demand forces. The growing gaps in hiring are another signpost that existing workers do not have adequate tools and training opportunities because business or government training investment activities continue to lag.

Those individuals possessing broad supply chain cross-functional process knowledge coupled with technology savviness and the soft skills needed to influence adoption and change to more advanced decision-making concepts will continue to be in very high demand. That will lead to more job-hopping, affecting even those companies that had taken the initiative to train existing employees. Efforts to increase U.S., North America or Eurozone based manufacturing capabilities now face the reality of an increasing lack of available skilled manufacturing and supply chain related talent.

We again urge our readers through their existing organizations to share what talent recruiting, management and retention programs have garnered positive contributions for their businesses and supply chain organizational needs, along with efforts that incent skilled employees to stay-on.

The talent perfect storm is obviously deepening and proactive cross-business initiatives as well as knowledge sharing is rather critical at this point.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

A Growing Need for Responsive and Skilled Procurement Leaders- Consider Attending ISM 2017

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As has been noted in prior Supply Chain Matters blogs and our predictions for the current year, the role of procurement leaders, both in large and smaller enterprises, will further evolve in 2017 to include more strategic advisor skills. Such skills will include analyzing the impacts to a rapidly changing global supply chain sourcing picture, added supply chain risk factors, and needs for higher levels of joint product and process innovation among suppliers, trading partners and services providers.

Candidly, beyond being a prediction, procurement as a trusted business advisor is a statement of compelling need documented by performance studies.

One widely recognized study comes from a collaboration among A.T. Kearney, The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) who since 2009, jointly conduct the Return on Supply Management Assets (ROSMA) Performance Check Study. The latest 2016 report, What Good Looks Like, brings forth a number of findings and insights derived from over 2000 executives from multiple organizational dimensions. The study continues to point toward the existence of wide performance gaps among procurement organizations. A top-quartile group of elite performers consistently deliver more than $1 million in financial benefits per procurement employee and report the highest levels of value creation from advanced sourcing methods. Yet, the study continues to point a widening gap to middle-tier performers that deliver some value, and a far larger group of bottom-quartile performers that add limited value to their organizations.

Highlights of the report’s takeaways note that while principal stakeholders (C-suite, finance, and lines-of-business) are aware of and understand procurement value drivers, performance variance remains large across various cross-industry and organizational size value drivers. In essence, the gaps among top-performing procurement and all other procurement organizations are growing wider, and that compels a need for remediation.

Once more, ongoing business challenges and events continue to evolve at a far more rapid pace. If readers have been keeping-up with business headlines these past weeks, there were many signs of reinforcement.

In the healthcare sector, personalized medicine is poised to disrupt the future of drug manufacturing and the risks associated with a lack of visibility will be compounded as personalized medicine necessitates an even more intricate network of supply chain partners, creating a web of manufacturers and distributors that procurement organizations will need to monitor.

We featured announcements where semiconductor and software companies are increasingly becoming new strategic suppliers to automotive and track producers for innovations in on-board electronics, enhanced safety, autonomous driving, and driver productivity focused technologies. In its 2017 Environmental Update Report, Apple made a commitment toward implementing a closed-loop, totally sustainable materials supply chain predicated on materials and process innovations across the supply chain. For global apparel supply chains, we featured a guest blog posting which described how third-party refurbish services providers assist brands in remediating offshore production glitches or quality snafus. Just this week, in conjunction with reporting its latest financial results, aircraft producer Boeing indicated that over the coming months, it will re-analyze its overall supply chain sourcing strategies to explore further opportunities for added cost savings by bringing some production in-house.

From our lens, the above are just a sampling of events ripped from the headlines that imply that procurement indeed has opportunities to be judged as trusted business advisors.

The question remains, do procurement leaders and their organizations have the broader management skills, cross-functional knowledge, and technology enablement skills to address such needs in a timely manner.

In just a matter of weeks, ISM will be conducting its annual 2017 conference which will be held May 21-24, 2017 at the Disney Coronado Resort in Orlando Florida. Featured keynote speakers will include former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.).    ISM2017 logo 002 A Growing Need for Responsive and Skilled  Procurement Leaders  Consider Attending ISM 2017

A total of 73 sessions will be offered based on various skill development levels ranging from fundamental to mastery level. Learning tracts include Economic, Business and Professional segments along with various Experience segments including the very successful Emerging Professionals Experience sessions.

Please consider joining this supply chain industry analyst in attending ISM 2017.

The full agenda and registration information for the ISM 2017 Annual Conference can be obtained by clicking on this dedicated ISM 2017 conference web site link or by clicking on the conference logo appearing in our Upcoming Conferences panel to the right. Readers should take note that if you register before the end of April (in just two days) you can still take advantage of a $200 registration discount, so consider acting sooner than later.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

Describing an Exponential Organizational and Supply Chain Capability

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In February, this supply chain industry analyst attended the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference held in San Jose California.  Through Supply Chain Matters, I have shared several prior observations and takeaways from this conference. We noted the extraordinary attendance, upwards of 2800 attendees at a supply chain management information technology focused conference. We further highlighted the momentum of Cloud-based technology deployments in the many different business process areas that today come under the umbrella of supply chain management along with the building interest levels surrounding Internet of Things (IoT) technology being applied to future supply chain management processes.

There was one keynote that I initially did not share in prior conference highlights, principally because I needed time to absorb the many compelling messages that were delivered. The title was Exponential Organizations and the presenter was Yuri van Geest, Co-Founder of Singularity University. Yuri Exponential Organizations sized 207x300 Describing an Exponential Organizational and Supply Chain Capabilityhas a background in organizational design and is noted as a keen observer of exponential technologies and trends.  He is a co-author of the book- Exponential Organizations- Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it).

The keynote opened with van Geest recounting the dizzying exponential developments that have occurred in artificial intelligence, alternative energy, biotechnology and medicine, robotics, additive manufacturing, sensors, and drones. His primary message was that most of these exponential technology developments will eventually impact supply chains and the organizations and people that makeup this community. His takeaway message was that the best vision of the future is happening at the peripherals of such technology development.

My initial presumption was that many of the conference attendees would have a difficult time absorbing the stark nature of the messages or would dismiss this talk as that of a technology genius speaking far above an ability to absorb the real implications.  Frankly, the conference organizers should have allowed additional time to accommodate all the content as well as to allow for further audience interaction.

Since the conference, I have had the opportunity to read the book and revisit my notes from the keynote. My goal in this blog is help distill what I perceive to be some other key takeaway messages related to future supply chain management organizational purpose, design, and work activities, at least from my perspective after having time to really absorb the content.

Geest did a suberb job of translating today’s far more exponential technology trends to what he viewed as direct impacts on industry supply chains. As an example, he stated that over the next ten years, the exponential developments in 3D printing capabilities will foster the ability to print nearly everything in materials including molecular assembly. The implication is the ability for products to be produced within primary areas of consumption, with the model of contract manufacturing being one of virtual capabilities to receive electronic design information and print on-demand products. A further implication is a more localized supply chain or regional network.

The notions of machine learning or cognitive acquired deep learning technology capabilities will at some point in the future lead to autonomous supply chain planning and customer fulfillment, where algorithms and physical sensing manage supply chain needs. While on the subject of planning, the book declares traditional five-year planning as obsolete, and that in exponential organizations, there should never be more than a one-year planning cycle supplemented by continuous just-in-time learning and events.

Regarding the physical, Geest further spoke to the compelling impacts that IoT focused developments would have on supply chains.  In the book, there is a passage that is worth sharing:

In the same way that today we can no longer handle the complexities of air traffic control or supply chain management without algorithms, almost all the business insights and decisions of tomorrow will be data-driven.”

Obviously, the messages are profound and perhaps threatening to many. None the less, van Geest’s message is that we cannot ignore compelling events and individually, people need to be trained and prepared with new individual and team-based skills.

To better understand the implications, I turned back to book to ascertain what were described as the key competencies of the future Chief Operating Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and either Chief Data or Chief Innovation Officers.

Here are just a few excerpts to ponder:

  • Digital based production and the unbundling of production steps will free the company to focus on its core competencies (customer relationships, R&D, design, and marketing)
  • The notion of a recycled materials supply chain where production materials recycled and reused multiple times.
  • Internet of Things sensors used to monitor the entire supply chain.
  • The need for long-distance transport to drop over time due to the rise of localized production and a closed-loop material supply chain.
  • Universal Cloud access to social technologies, data, and services, independent of physical location.
  • Data management systems that use methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies to transform raw data into meaningful and useful business information, available to all teams.
  • The need for Big Data security practices.
  • The hiring of employees based on overall potential, not just past record of accomplishment, and on the premise of who can ask the right questions.
  • New notions of peer-based and continuous learning.
  • Reputation measured by contributions in communities and work teams.


The book addresses the obvious question regarding the impact on future jobs. The premise is that the democratization of technology will allow individuals and teams to follow their passions and create new economic opportunities and businesses, far different than work being performed today.

These are heady messages, and will cause some pause or skeptics. We applaud Oracle’s supply chain management  conference organizers for hosting such a thought-provoking presentation.

From our lens, there is no denying that the exponential changes occurring in technology and business will eventually impact how supply chains are manifested and managed. The question is in what time frames.

The other obvious question, will teams and individuals be prepared?

We encourage readers to share further thoughts and comments.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

Supply Chain Matters Shares Our Top Ten Blog Postings in 2016

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An annual tradition for the Supply Chain Matters blog has been to look back to the prior year’s readership uptake and share with our readers the top ten blog postings of the prior year.

Admittedly, we are a bit late in compilating all of our 2016 readership data but we did want to publish this for readers, clients and sponsors.

The list provides a sense of what particular topics were of the most interest in our over 300 blog postings published in 2016.  SCM 250 76 Supply Chain Matters Shares Our Top Ten Blog Postings in 2016

In the Dave Letterman style, we start with number ten and work our way down to the number one topic of readership uptake.

Number 10:

Observations on the Rankings for Supply Chain Planning Technology (February 5, 2016)

After industry analyst firm Gartner published its Magic Quadrant Rankings for Supply Chain Planning System of Record applications in mid-January, this commentary shared observations regarding the rankings of vendors. Our takeaway was that the current landscape of supply chain planning, sales and operations planning (SO&P) and B2B supply chain network planning technology was far more influenced by line-of-business and supply chain leadership input needs and requirements. Hence many other sources of information support the buying decision beyond industry analyst rankings.

Number 9:

The Value Proposition for Cloud Computing is Broader in Scope and in Business Implications (January 22, 2016)

This Supply Chain Matters commentary explored the implications of a full Cloud-based technology suite in supporting broad supply chain business process needs after industry analyst Bob Ferrari completed nearly two days of briefings and conference presentations related to Oracle’s Cloud based technology offerings. One takeaway provided was to view Cloud from the perspective of a broader focus on an engineered suite of pre-integrated software applications that are continually updated to reflect changing business needs. Why settle for business application innovation every 1-2 years when every 6 months is an option, and with lower capital and overhead costs.

Number 8:

Sports Authority- A Disturbing Twist to Consignment Inventory Management Practices (March 17, 2016)

Characterized as one of the largest sporting-goods retailers, Sports Authority was weighted down with debt from a prior leveraged buyout a decade ago. We called attention to a disturbing development in the ongoing bankruptcy process, as the retail chain filed lawsuits with more than 160 suppliers challenging supplier claims to consigned inventories. We opined that this development had significant ramifications for supplier collaboration practices within retail as well as other consumer goods focused supply chains.

Number 7:

A Disruptor is About to Enter the Heavy Truck Equipment Market (June 20, 2016)

Supply Chain Matters has continuously provided our readers visibility to emerging industry disruptors who are leveraging advanced technology and platforms directed at supply chain related business process and asset needs.  Such visibility included the entry of Uber and Lyft and their potential to move beyond people transportation. In this posting we provided visibility to start-up Nikola Motor Company and its ongoing development of a Class 8, 2000 horsepower electric powered semi-tractor truck that will be named the Nicola One.  The actual unveiling occurred in early December.

Number 6:

Chipotle’s Consumer Trust Crisis Enters a New Critical Phase (February 9, 2016)

One of our early blogs in a series of ongoing commentaries we outlined from a supply chain lens regarding the business, brand and supply chain crisis that impacted Chipotle Mexican Grill after hundreds of consumers were sickened by a series of varying incidents ranging from E-coli outbreaks to norovirus that date back to the summer of 2015. We opined that too much attention was being applied to corporate marketing vs. supply chain and restaurant risk mitigation efforts. It is now April 2017 and the challenges to restore brand trust remain.

Number 5:

Look to the Cloud to Support the Modern B2B Network (September 1, 2016)

This blog commentary addressed an organization’s journey toward mature B2B information integration and how this is made possible by today’s advanced cloud-based platforms, applications and infrastructure. We opined that there is no question that analytics and broader, more predictive business insight capabilities are opportunities to transform B2B business and supply chain business networks. The opportunity — and indeed the necessity — is to leverage an end-to-end business network to synchronize planning, execution, customer fulfillment and more predictive decision-making needs.

Number 4:

Gartner 2016 Top 25 Supply Chain Rankings- Supply Chain Matters Initial Impressions (May 19, 2016)

Our annual commentary related to analyst firm Gartner’s Top 25 Supply Chain Rankings.  Our annual commentaries reflect our beliefs that ranking criteria can be misconstrued, especially when it tends to favor supply chains that avoid major ownership of assets and inventory, or tend to weight other criteria lower, such as sustainability and social responsibility practices.

Number 3:

A Tour of Healthcare Supply Chain Innovation in Action (February 4, 2016)

Executive Editor Bob Ferrari shared impressions and insights regarding a November 2015 visit to the Cardinal Health Healthcare Supply Chain Innovation Lab located in Concord Massachusetts.  The lab served as a hub to explore innovative technology approaches such as smart sensors and near-field communications (NFC) in addressing healthcare supply chain product demand and supply inefficiencies.

Number 2:

What are Specific Skill Needs and Gaps in Supply Chain Management? (February 26, 2016)

Supply Chain Matters highlights results and an infographic from a supply chain skills survey conducted by Canadian based Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting outlining what specific hard and soft skills are organizations looking for in their hiring and recruiting efforts. Supply chain skills and talent development content has consistently drawn reader interest.


And now, a drum-roll for our most read 2016 blog:


Airbus and Boeing Continue to Experience Supply Chain Scale-Up Challenges (May 2, 2016)

After announcing Q1 financial and operational performance results, both Airbus and Boeing addressed ongoing challenges related to their supply chains and expected performance for 2016 total aircraft delivery commitments. We shared candid comments from Airbus’s CEO as to the global producer’s most critical new product introductions and clear signs of concerns related to various supply chain challenges. We also called attention to comments from United Technologies regarding the new Pratt and Whitney geared turbofan engine, which turned out to be the weakest link in the Airbus supply chain. Finally we concluded that for the two dominant manufacturers of commercial aircraft, supply chain challenges have once again come back as concerns amid an environment of robust order backlogs. Each has different manifestations and supplier challenges, and each reflects on internal operational scale-up as well. We opined our belief that challenging product design among the most critical supply components, including aircraft engines would continue to be the linchpin towards achieving required production scale-up milestones.


Thanks again to all globally located Supply Chain Matters readers for your continued readership and frequent visits.

Thanks as well to our sponsors, clients, and network contacts for their continued support. We will no doubt, have yet another set of different topics of reader interest throughout 2017.

A final thought, why not consider having your company’s brand appearing as a designated sponsor or advertiser on this blog. Send us an email at info <at> supply-chain-matters <dot> com and we will respond with all of the information.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

Significant Announcement Between APICS and in Supply Chain Management Skills Development

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This week, supply chain management professional association APICS and China’s E-commerce company announced a strategic agreement to establish nationwide standards for the Omni-channel supply chain capability within China and to advance supply chain performance of the e-commerce industry in the region.  APICS logo Significant Announcement Between APICS and in Supply Chain Management Skills Development

Supply Chain Matters views this announcement as rather significant.

It represents an important outreach from APICS providing China’s business leaders, academia, and global enterprises with valuable insights, information, and actionable data necessary to succeed in supply chain management.JD logo 300x110 Significant Announcement Between APICS and in Supply Chain Management Skills Development

As our international Supply Chain Matters readers are acutely aware, China’s very large and fast-growing e-commerce sector surpasses that of the United States. At the same time, because of the inherent logistics and other customer fulfillment challenges unique to China with its high-density cities and large urban landscapes, the E-commerce providers within China often directly control the elements and logistics related to customer fulfillment. Likewise, suppliers of online merchandise come from a variety of supply chain management skill and business process experience dimensions. describes itself as an online provider of high quality Chinese goods sourced in China, and delivered to customer’s location in a speedy manner. The company currently operates 7 fulfillment centers and 256 warehouses and a total of upwards of 6900 customer delivery and pickup stations across China, all staffed with its own employees. The firms stated corporate values include a customer-first perspective supported by continuous learning.

APICS Supply Chain Council has had active relationships with Chinese companies which culminated in the re-launch of a China Regional Advisory Council in August of last year which established initial educational priorities for this region. A source indicates that an executive forum held at the time drew upwards of 150 attendees including These initial efforts led up to this week’s announcement.

APICS further announced the formation of a Chinese Corporate Advisory Board (CCAB), which will be designed to facilitate discussion between APICS and leading Chinese companies like The CCAB will serve as a corporate sounding board on APICS products and how best to leverage these resources in China. The significance applies to joint efforts to prepare the next generation of Chinese supply chain talent more effectively.  APICS has committed to providing China’s business leaders, academia, and global enterprises with valuable insights, information, and actionable data necessary to succeed in supply chain management.

This professional organization will additionally help establish the JD Supply Chain Academy within JD University, a nationwide supply chain talent development center and e-commerce supply chain research center. Efforts will be directed toward developing course curriculum and research topics focused on the e-commerce industry in China. Initial activity will focus on educational needs for’s key supplier base as well as the online firm’s internal IT teams who continue to develop more advanced technology aides to support current processes such as drones, big data analytics and other systems applications. The goal for the supply chain academy is to provide teams with broader end-to-end supply chain knowledge and the interrelationships of supply chain processes with key performance indicators.

The announcement indicates that both organizations will also cross-reference the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model with the database to develop a specific SCORmark Omni Channel Benchmark for China. Plans call for the performance improvement tool to eventually be made available to the major suppliers of and other stakeholders within the APICS corporate community worldwide.

APICS Executive Vice President for Corporate Development, Peter Bolstorff indicated to Supply Chain Matters that pilot deliverables among target groups could come as early as later this year.

This week’s announcement comes on the 3rd year anniversary of the merger of prior Supply Chain Council with APICS.

Bottom-line, this collaboration provides APICS with an important partner and advocate for broader supply chain management skills development in both supply chain business process mapping and individual skills development, including the growing dimensions of online E-commerce fulfillment.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

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