Over the last few months the world has changed dramatically. No longer are we comforted by expectations of continued economic growth, easy credit and relatively calm and predictable trading conditions. Considerable challenges now face the commercial enterprise in the form of uncertainty, volatility and complexity.
Many of these challenges have been highlighted in a new report published by the Global Commerce Initiative ‘Succeeding in a volatile market – 2018: The future value chain’, a study produced by Capgemini, HP and SAP from insights and analysis of 130 leading industry figures from key markets across the world.
Although the report notes particular points of concern such as the volatility of raw material prices, the changes in consumer buying behaviour brought about by the rise of internet shopping and the growth of middle class consumers in China and India, requiring businesses to develop more flexible business strategies that are more in tune with the consumer; the most pertinent issue for the supply chain came across as the importance of collaboration.
Collaboration and the sharing of best practice is seen as key to improving efficiencies within the chain, and importantly, in reducing costs at this time. The sharing of sales data is recognised as a way of smoothing inventory requirements and demands in the chain, but overcoming the human issues around security of data to create a winning situation for all is a difficult nut to crack.
Collaborating on transport is another area where significant advantages can be achieved, delivering benefits such as: better service levels, reduced costs, fewer lorry movements and lower carbon emissions. There are big potential gains here. But of course, this all takes effort and perhaps, a certain degree of imagination in identifying and developing creative relationships with appropriate parties.
Importantly, good collaborative technology is needed to facilitate the easy exchange of data between all concerned – and there is plenty on that in my feature on Collaborative Technologies in the January issue of Supply Chain Standard.