I recently attended the Gartner Supply Chain conference in Scottsdale. The keynote speakers from Johnson and Johnson, Lenovo and the U.S. Army told amazing stories that stretched many people’s comfort zone. From self-driving delivery trucks to inventory-collecting drones, multi-company products being pulled together to create solutions made the supply chain leaders in attendance realize what is possible when you think outside the box.
Collaboration and transparency are the tools of the future. When companies get to the heart of what customers want, they identify real value. That value may not be in the product itself, but rather what the product delivers customers. By building up ecosystems with partners who sell to the same customers, these shared partnerships can build an outcome that isn’t possible alone. Companies will be able to provide a different, improved customer experience, which is the new battlefield for differentiation.
The stakes are high in B2B transactions. These often long-term relationships are strategic, and a lack of speed and interactions are the largest pain points. Having visibility over activity early on enables companies to correct course in order to deliver propositions that make customer relationships successful.
With the business world transitioning to self-service and mobile access options, the customer has multiple touch points with which to do business. Have you journeyed through your customer’s experience from beginning to end to see what it is like? By focusing on the process as a whole, it becomes apparent that customers interact with your company through the channels they choose. Are you ready to service all of them?
Machine learning and automation are great tools to speed up the flow of information so that those interacting with customers can anticipate their needs. Isn’t it great when your waiter comes by with that jug of water just as your glass gets close to the bottom? If your teams could off-load the mundane order entry tasks to focus on being proactive about customer needs, they could identify where the company is leaking value and possibly damaging the customer experience.
As automation continues to change the world that supply chain executives call home, companies can begin to focus on what makes them different — their value and commitment to bettering the customer experience. This conference was a great example of the exciting things to come and I walked away amazed at how the supply chain has evolved into a value-added function in organizations.