Global Macro Trends Holding Sway on Supply Chain Practices

Supply chain management is never an isolated exercise of getting products from point A to point B. It's a constantly shifting and imperfect balancing act between internal business and operational goals. At any given moment, any number of external factors can throw a wrench into the most carefully considered plan.

If you've been following some recent online discussions, you may have noticed increased chatter about the growing influence of global macrotrends on evolving supply chain practices. For example, a couple of months ago, we discussed worldwide water scarcity issues and how they could affect supply chains.

In a March guest column for Logistics Viewpoints, Chuck Fuerst, director of product strategy at HighJump Software, discussed how some macro-level lifestyle trends are fueling supply chain innovation.

  • The consumerization of IT “: As people become accustomed to using commercial applications on a multitude of devices, enterprise software developers and corporate IT groups are being challenged to create more consumer-like platforms for the supply chain world.
  • Data wherever, whenever “: The way consumers work today on PCs, smartphones, or tablets and how they share data via the cloud are resetting expectations for how business data will be distributed across the blurring lines of home, work, and cloud-based devices.
  • Orders wherever, whenever “: In a multi-channel world where sales may come in online, at a brick-and-mortar store, via a phone, or through a reseller or distribution partner, the supply chain and logistics technology backbone must be able to “make intelligent decisions about how and where orders are filled (or split up) based on geography, product, delivery dates and more.”

This is really only the tip of the iceberg. Many other emerging global trends will impact how individual supply chain professionals work and how entire supply chain groups and companies function.

In their December 2012 book Global Macrotrends and Their Impact on Supply Chain Management: Strategies for Gaining Competitive Advantage, Chad W. Autry, Thomas J. Goldsby, and John E. Bell talk about the impact these new and disruptive macroeconomic factors are having on all sorts of corporate decision-making activities.

  • Continued population growth and migration
  • Rising economies and buying power
  • Global connectivity
  • Increased geopolitical activity
  • Environmental and climate change

The authors raise these questions, which really get to the heart of what EBN readers must always ask themselves:

What is your company doing to identify and manage the impact of a transforming world on your supply chain? In other words, are you looking to adapt and make changes to your supply chains today that will ensure a sustainable future for your company?

Tell us what other trends you see holding sway over supply chain practices and the steps your company is taking to integrate these influential macro-level events into your business strategy.

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