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The biggest challenges facing supply chain executives are…

Despite the value that a digitally enabled supply chain offers, many chief supply chain officers (CSCO) are struggling to reinvent functionality.

In many organizations, a lack of business strategy (43% of respondents), an inadequately skilled workforce (48%), and incompatible legacy systems (44%), are hindering supply chains from driving value, according to “Drive Your Own Disruption: Is Your Supply Chain In Sleep Mode?,” a report from Accenture.

If these challenges go unaddressed, surveyed CSCOs believe that the supply chain will begin to be viewed as a cost efficiency driver (60%) or a support function (68%), instead of a competitive differentiator (48%) or growth enabler (53%) within their organization. By ignoring these opportunities, companies are leaving significant value on the table, according to the study.

The good news is CSCOs are determined to overcome the core challenges related to a lack of leadership, less-skilled labor and legacy technology. To increase value, according to Accenture, companies need:

Stronger leadership. The CSCO will need to be better aligned with business strategy and build a new and productive working relationship with the executives responsible for long-term digital investment: the CFO and COO.

Skilled labor. CSCOs need to build a workforce that focuses on core supply chain workers, “adaptive” (part-time and on-demand) workers, and artificial intelligence / robotics, all working together to drive productivity at speed. The CSCO will also need to leverage their C-suite connections to secure support for a reskilling strategy founded on continuous learning.

Less legacy technology. Digitally decoupling legacy systems provides a less-resource-intensive and more impactful way to drive agility than spending on new, more compatible systems. CSCOs can start by decoupling data from their legacy IT systems, replicating it and moving it, in real time, to cloud-based data “lakes” that are accessible to customers.

“Supply chain executives should take no comfort in being categorized as a support function,” said Mohammed (Mo) Hajibashi, a managing director at Accenture and global supply chain lead in the products industry practice. “In this digital era where customers demand speed to market and hyper-personalization, these executives need to ensure that their supply chain function is not only a key differentiator but also ensures the sustained growth of their organizations.”
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