As businesses work through the shifting nature of current economic conditions, how executives service their customers and marketplaces, respond to disruptions, and manage costs is critical to building resilient and agile supply chains.
Modern technologies are introduced every day, and while executives may believe investing in new offerings is the right choice for supply chain growth and stability, a more complex supply chain presents a greater opportunity for delays, increased risk and added costs. Executives looking to invest in supply chain technologies should do so with a careful and nuanced perspective on strategy and implementation.
Identifying goals & tracking results
The options for technologies to expand supply chain operations grow every day.
From generative AI to robotic process automation, there are numerous innovations executives can adopt and plan to invest further in to enhance their supply chain.
But how effective is investing in the newest technology as it relates to impact?
According to PwC’s 2023 Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey, only 17% of executives say their company’s investments in supply chain technology have fully delivered the expected results. That’s down from 20% in the previous survey.
- Needing more time to conduct investment plans (cited by 21% of executives)
- Unclear tracking benefits (7%)
- Undefined ownership and vision (4%)
Streamlined processes and cost savings
Efficient supply chains are critical to meeting customer needs.
As supply chains become more complex, the pressure increases to streamline processes, deliver results, and reduce costs. When asked about their priorities in the next 12-18 months, more than half of surveyed leaders picked increasing efficiency (58%) and reducing costs (54%) as top priorities. Meanwhile, only 23% chose increasing responsiveness and resilience among their top three.
Many leaders may think reducing costs is a separate goal from increasing resilience or efficiency. However, the reality is that simplifying your supply chains and streamlining your processes in the initial stages of investment and adoption will help do exactly that. Data is central to initiating the simplification process.
From metrics to analytics, data is a powerful source. It helps streamline supply chains for faster, high-quality, and more accurate operations. Leaders who enable a data-driven approach to simplifying such operations have a greater opportunity to make informed decisions. They can also better identify risks and enhance workflow, which leads to cost reduction.
As budget spending is no longer overly allocated to the maintenance of unnecessary technologies, addressing errors, or dealing with the aftereffects of disruption can take center stage. Additionally, a data-driven approach allows leaders to analyze and reflect on previous data. This helps identify inefficiencies in their supply chain and anticipate any risks.
Looking ahead with investment and value capture in mind
The past three years have shown that disruption is difficult to predict, yet always around the corner.
When asked about their top objective for supply chain technology investment, 53% of surveyed leaders cited driving growth as a top objective. For leaders prioritizing growth, it is critical that they understand how simplification, risk mitigation and cost savings are connected to growth. If executives continue to adopt and pour money into modern technologies, their supply chains will only grow more complex. In turn, this demands additional attention to avoid disruption, which could impact expected results.
Adopting and investing in innovative technologies is a piece of the puzzle when it comes to generating growth and reducing costs. These help to support growth but require intentionality during both planning and implementation. A complex supply chain presents a greater opportunity for complications. Those include: potential delays in operations, increased risk of error and added costs.
Successful strategies require leaders to carefully consider what they are hoping to receive from such investments. Whether they wish to reduce costs or create a more resilient supply chain, investing in supply chain technologies at an early stage and simplifying operations can help create higher quality data. That can then support mitigated risk, increased cost-savings, and long-term growth.
Carla DeSantis is operations transformation principal for PwC US. Matt Comte is PwC’s US operations transformation leader.
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