Supply Chain


Each year, Gartner publishes a Supply Chain Top 25 list. As a student of the supply chain, I watch to see who made the list and what market advances they highlight for suppliers and retailers.  Over the years, I  have seen many signs of progress toward a responsive demand driven supply chain. Last week though I experienced it firsthand.

Here’s my personal supply chain story, that reveals some important best practices for retailers.


12-11-2013 2-17-33 PM Happy 2014! Time for fabulous predictions.  Here’s one I predict  you won’t see from any other industry watcher…

Check out a longer version of this post with other awesome predictions at Industry Insights.


Dimensional disruption 

“By 2020, traditional supply chains will no longer exist. Instead all objects will be created at the point of use by 3D replicators.”  – Spacely Sprockets Research

George Jetson has a replicator, so does Jean Luc Picard. Now so can you. “Print Your Own 3-D Objects” describes Candy Fab. Resembling a  high-end industrial fabber, it prints by fusing a layer of sugar grains. The result: geometric confections including dodecahedra, Möbius strips and sugary helices. Okay, not yet for sale and admittedly not very practical. However, high performance additive manufacturing technologies, first developed in laboratories some 30 years ago, are now available for consumers and 3D printing offers “the realistic possibility that anyone, anywhere in the world can produce any object they need on demand.” For a thorough treatment of the subject I recommend  “3-D printing and the future of stuff.”

If you are looking for early signals to confirm that 3D printing has arrived as a force to be reckoned with, you need look no further than my new go-to scientific source, The Big Bang Theory, whose 3D episode was both incredibly funny and insightful. Having said that, it is clear that more traditional industry watchers are interested in 3D printing. In fact, it’s disruptive potential is highlighted by Gartner who predicts that a new digital industrial revolution has begun that threatens to reshape how physical goods are created with 3D printing at the heart of it. On the upside, 3D printing is a means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing. However, Gartner also warns that 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property globally by 2018. That prediction is one of 10 ‘Top Predictions for 2014’ made by Gartner.

I spend a good deal of my time these days with enterprise information management technologies that can improve the customer experience and at the same time optimize the supply chain, so I am particularly interested in how 3D printing might impact the retail value chain. In that regard, I definitely agree with Deloitte’s Alison Kenney Paul. In her 2014 “Outlook on Retail,” she points out that retailers will need to keep an eye on the rapid growth of 3D printing applications. Alison predicts:

“Printing customized and on-demand products in-store will revolutionize the customer experience and help retailers improve their inventory and supply chain management. At the same time, as personal 3D printers become affordable, retailers will need to deliver a unique store experience, since a small, but increasing, percentage of customers will be able to print products themselves at home.“

That’s just a leap of faith away from the prediction of a dissapearing supply chain, don’t you think?

Symphony_shutterstock_113959705Each year at this time, supply chain geeks (and I use this term with great regard and affection) eagerly await publication of the annual Top 25 list. I have been following this list since its inception in 2004 by AMR Research, now Gartner, and along the way have drawn some conclusions about the processes and technologies it takes to be the best in orchestrating the supply chain.

Here is my latest article for CMSWire with the key trends I see, as inspired by this year’s leaders, plus one emerging strategy I predict is the new “must have.” Let’s see if you agree.

 My eBook is now available! Thanks to the more than 700 people who have downloaded it so far.  You can get a copy out at Global 360  Better Together  (requires registration) or at Nothing But SharePoint.  

 Appreciate the comments so far…

 “These are first person, real world stories, with no “Geek Speak”. Business Process Management is the next growing stage in SharePoint. Reading Deb’s book will give you the ideas you’ll need to get started in BPM. ”  – Mark Miller (EUSP)


The Association for Manufacturing Excellence held their AME 2010 Conference this past week in Baltimore Maryland. 

I had the opportunity to coordinate two Microsoft University Learning Labs delivered by Global 360 design and process solution experts; one on “Getting Started with Business Process Improvement” and an advanced lab on “Continuous Process Improvement.” We had an enthusiastic turnout and my thanks to all of the Lab participants for your time and interest! I’ll blog more about the Labs in a follow-on post, but for now I’d like to share my observations on the overall conference.

 I attended a number of the conference sessions – the quality of the presentations was outstanding, but as always the opportunity for informal conversation and discussion were perhaps most illuminating.  Here are four trends I observed: (more…)

I’ve just completed the sixth and final article in my series on process-enabling SharePoint to create solutions that will help you outperform your Industry.   My premise is that a winning attitude combined with the right  process and technology can make all the difference to your business  in today’s economic climate.   I share some lessons learned from a “rock climber” extraordinaire and what I consider to be “rock star” supply chain leaders.  Odd combination? Well, check out “The Power of Positive Pessimism” and let me know what you think. 

And, while you’re thinking about attitude, I recommend you read “Managing Problems You Can’t Fix” – this blog post will give you a different perspective on finding solutions.

The next article in my SharePoint series appeared today on EUSP

Don’t talk to customers

Guest Author: Deb Miller Global 360 Inc. Companies need to stop talking to customers? Yes! That is, stop wasting your time and your customers’ time talking about items like credit disputes or missing approval documents. Instead, you can automate and streamline key processes like dispute resolution using business process management (BPM) and SharePoint.  You’ll have more quality time then to listen to your customers, and to apply your people and technology resources to engage… [Read more]

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