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Secrets of the most successful digital supply chains

Research - Trends and Insights

Digital trendsetters:

Kamendran Govender, Managing Director and Procurement & Supply Chain Transformation Lead for Accenture Consulting

Today’s digital customers are looking for unique experiences at a hyper speed, making a super-flexible supply chain as critical as a super-efficient one. However, many organisations haven’t realised the full, value-driving potential of digital technologies. One group, though, is different. We call them “digital trendsetters” and they are the top performers in terms of both profitability and revenue growth in our survey of 400 senior supply-chain executives across 14 countries. These trendsetters are breaking away from the pack of “digital followers” because they are responding to digital disruption differently.

Cases in point

Schneider Electric, a global energy management company for example, has leveraged digital to identify 10 different customer segments based on need and operates four different supply chain models for a hyper-tailored customer experience. Hyper-tailored products and services require hyper-flexible capabilities and trendsetters know that leveraging the full spectrum of digital technologies is key to enabling them.

General Electric’s Brilliant Manufacturing initiative which leverages Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology and advanced real-time analytics. The system enables decision makers with the real-time visibility and deep operational intelligence needed to respond more quickly to unexpected events, as well as balance plant production with quality and profitability objectives.

Consider Pfizer’s Clinical Aggregation Layer, a data-sharing capability that enables accelerated new drug research through unprecedented collaboration between the pharmaceutical giant and its alliance partners.

So what can we learn from these and other Digital Trendsetters?

Think enterprise, not just supply chain
Use digital to own the customer experience, end-to-end, across the ecosystem. Unlike digital followers, whose approach is transactional and focused on providing an improved shopping and buying process and faster and more flexible fulfilment, trendsetters take a more strategic view. They look to strengthen their on-going customer relationship with regular updates about products and services, online self-service, support and feedback.

Raise your technology game to enable a hyper-tailored experience
By embracing controlled volatility, digital trendsetters aim to treat customers, products, and suppliers differently – on purpose and on their own terms. They are designing their supply chain operations around the intersection of suppliers, products and customers, all the way to the end consumer. They also strive to deliver a hyper-tailored customer experience: highly individualised, focused products and completely customised services providing buy-anywhere, collect anywhere, return-anywhere capabilities via flexible channels.

Never walk alone
Leverage digital investments to build new levels of collaboration. Creating a flexible ecosystem where everyone can have access to the right information to work together collaboratively toward a common goal is a top priority for two thirds of digital trendsetters. Their ecosystems encompass all stakeholders, including start-ups, in a broad, fluid and proactively managed network.

A way forward

Trendsetters follow a predictable pattern. They pinpoint what capabilities they need next, take action to implement them in a meaningful way, and capture the benefits. Your key next steps:

Reinvent your supply chain business case. Preserve basic efficiencies – but examine how you could leverage digital to change your value proposition and enable growth at speed for the enterprise as a whole. You can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all. Go after what can make a disproportionate impact on growth and profitability.

Rethink your operating model. Scan your supply chain for digital enablement and let digital inform how you can reimagine your supply chain to truly reap its benefits. Up your spending on the more sophisticated technologies but don’t fall prey to “bolting on” new technology to an old model.

Reimagine your ecosystem. Expand your ecosystem beyond your four walls and leverage digital to access and share data, while managing cyber-security risk. Engage proactively with strategic partners, including digital start-ups, to help you jumpstart innovative, value-enhancing capabilities.

About Accenture
Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 394,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at

Jonathan Mahapa
+ 27 11 208 3947  

Magna Carta
Rebecca Rabodiba | Account Executive
Tel: +27 11 784 2598 | Fax: +27 86 560 0332

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