At Supply Chain Matters, we relish when elements of the Wall Street community recognize the critical link of supply chain performance and responsiveness with supporting positive product brand and business outcomes.  Thus we were attracted to this week’s posting by Motley Fool concerning what is often rated as the number one supply chain: Is Apple’s Supply Chain a Risk to the Company?  

The overall concerns raised in this commentary should not be new news to our community, especially those that often follow Supply Chain Matters.  The commentary observes that the supply chain is more difficult than it appears (really!), even though the definition of what is incorporated in supply chain is somewhat simplistic.  More importantly is this commentary’s linkage of a corporate culture that is product innovation driven, and how that impacts supply chain responsiveness. 

We have brought forward that dimension in many of our Apple supply chain commentaries, the most frequent addressing how last-minute product design changes on the pending iPhone 6 impacted ramp-up production schedules or the current aggressive plan to introduce a new 12.9 inch iPad in Q1 .

A somewhat novel aspect to this commentary is calling attention to the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook, having come from a background in supply chain, should have been aware of supply chain risks.  Our response is: Of course he is aware, and he, in-turn has obvious high expectations in his supply chain partner network to rise to challenge, as they have before.

There is speculation among Wall Street investors as to the scope and breadth Apple’s pending product announcements scheduled next week, along with the market availability of these products in the upcoming holiday focused quarter. In its conclusion, the Motley Fool commentary kind of throws supply chain ‘under the bus’:

As Apple continues to bring new and exciting technologies to its products, at times there will be delays in both supply and manufacturing processes. In addition, Apple’s going to take its time bringing a cohesive, end-user-focused, product to market. It isn’t always fast, but it’s worth waiting for.” 

Supply Chain Matters and many of our community would most likely have a different perspective.  A supply chain supporting innovative products as its prime business outcome must be designed to support agility, flexibility and responsiveness to constant product changes and new product introduction cycles.  It is not a supply chain driven solely by lowest cost dimensions, but rather scale and responsiveness dimensions.

The good news is that once in a while, Wall Street can appreciate supply chain capability, even as some activist investors constantly strive to destroy years of investment and resources in supply chain capability.

Bob Ferrari