As we approach the New Year holiday which marks the beginning of 2017, we are heads-down in the preparation of our 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains. Supply Chain Matters blog readers should anticipate the full unveiling of our 2017 predictions over the first two weeks in January.

We do however want to share some of the overall highlights as to what to expect in the coming year. crystal_ball

There seems to be little doubt that the year 2017 will present even more uncertainty and increased volatility for many industry supply chains. Organizations and respective supply chain teams will once again need to be prepared.

By the end of 2016, political winds of change were blowing a strong gust across the global economy. Economies are entering 2017 in a year of heightened uncertainty in markets, brought about by more volatile, populist focused political environments among major developed nations including Eurozone countries and the United States.

The unexpected election of Donald Trump as the new President of the United States is indeed sending out shockwaves around the world. The Eurozone, which was already attempting to deal with the unexpected results of Britain’s referendum vote to exit the EU (Brexit) faces yet another concern with Italy’s December vote to reject constitutional reforms, which prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. This could lead to a potential general election in 2017 that could have strong populist overtones including potential EU exit.

By late-December, the value of Euro was moving ever closer to parity with the U.S. Dollar, its lowest level since January 2003. Many analysts are predicting that in 2017, the Euro will indeed reach parity and could even drop below the value of the dollar at some point. That will add to the challenges of U.S. based companies to export products and services globally.

Industry and global supply chains should anticipate yet another challenging year with resiliency, adaptability, and risk mitigation as important competencies. Industry supply chains will again be called upon to help contribute to top-line revenue growth. We anticipate added pressures for cost controls and cost reductions, which will place additional pressures on capabilities. Supply chain risk factors will significantly rise across many industries and within many global regions, along with needs for educating line of business and senior executives on the supply chain implications of such risks. More informed and deeper analytical capabilities to ascertain various impacts to global component and finished goods manufacturing and supply chain sourcing will likely be an ongoing requirement and supply chain organizations who have not invested in such analysis and decision-making capabilities will be tested.

We anticipate another challenging year in procurement and strategic sourcing with a renewed emphasis on strategic and technical skill needs. The role of the CPO will continue to evolve into one of strategic business advisor, requiring enhanced cross-organizational influence skills.

One of the most significant challenges for 2017 will be reflected in a supply chain talent perfect storm, one that is sure to occupy more of the management attention of supply chain and business senior leadership. The perfect storm is increased skills demand meeting limited available skilled talent supply. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek declared in late December 2016: “Right now the problem isn’t too many workers who can’t find jobs. It’s too many jobs that can’t find workers.” With the prospects of 2017 providing even more overall pressures to reduce supply chain costs, supply chain, procurement and product management related executives will be faced with difficult choices regarding the existing workforce. Executives who previously established multi-year plans to broaden skills and talent will face the reality that talent needs are more immediate.  With upwards of 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the skills and experience flight becomes ever more challenging.

We further predict continued turbulence surrounding global transportation sectors with renewed interest in managed services and B2B network information integration. Industry supply chain teams can no longer view the outsourcing of supply chain logistics and transportation services to be an annual renewal but rather a revisit of required augmented capabilities in services.

We anticipate a new renaissance of supply chain focused technology investment during the 2017 in areas such as integrated business planning, supply chain risk mitigation and advanced analytical decision-making support. We predict increased momentum and interest in Internet of Things enabled industrial and supply chain networks. The new renaissance in supply chain focused tech adoption will lead to further tech vendor acquisitions, some involving well- known names.

We expect existing supply chain sustainability and social responsibility initiatives to continue momentum effort during 2017 despite anticipated Trump Administration efforts to dilute the notions of the effects of global warming. Such initiatives continue to provide economic and brand value benefits and further contribute to the strategic need for an overall sustainable business.

We predict a renewed global battleground for online B2C and B2B platform dominance among Alibaba and Amazon in 2017 with regions such as India being the key areas to watch for influence and added investment. WalMart.com remains a wildcard in the global B2C sector.

Finally, there will be the unique usual industry-specific supply chain focused challenges that are sure to include consumer product goods, commercial aerospace, pharmaceutical and healthcare and other industries.

The above will all be detailed in our upcoming 2017 predictions series. This year we will further augment our predictions series by contributed guest contributions and added podcasts or webinars featuring industry participants. If industry leaders desire to add their voice in our content stream as to what to anticipate, and how to be prepared, please let us know.

The year 2017 will no doubt test the competencies and skills of many across industry supply chains. At the same time, they will provide opportunities for leadership and added innovation to make a difference in achieving line-of-business and overall corporate objectives. The value of the supply chain and the notions that supply chain capabilities do matter have never been more recognized as they are as we approach the coming year.

It will be an interesting year to state the least so stay tuned as we navigate the ongoing developments throughout 2017.

Bob Ferrari

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