Gartner Inc. has released the findings from its 10th annual Supply Chain Top 25. A primary goal of the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 research initiative is to raise awareness of the supply chain discipline and how it impacts the business.
Analysts announced the findings from this year’s research at Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2014 May 20–22 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., with more than 1,100 senior supply chain executives on-site.
“2014 marks the 10th year of our annual Supply Chain Top 25 ranking,” Vice President, Gartner Research Stan Aronow says. “As we reach this milestone, we have several longtime leaders with new lessons to share and a number of more recent entrants from the high-tech, consumer product and industrial sectors in the Top 25.”
The top 5-ranked organizations in 2014 include four that topped the list last year — Apple, McDonald’s, Amazon and Unilever — plus another familiar leader, P&G.
Two new companies joined the Top 25 this year, with Seagate Technology (No. 20) appearing for the first time and Kimberly-Clark (No. 21) re-emerging after a year’s hiatus.
Apple took the No. 1 slot again, its seventh year running. McDonald’s landed at No. 2 for the second year in a row, followed by Amazon.com in the third spot.
In addition to revealing the results live, Gartner analysts highlighted three standout trends for supply chain leaders in 2014.
An enduring trait of leading companies is that customer needs and behaviors serve as the starting point for go-to-market and operational support strategies. The best of them present simple, elegant solutions to their customers, driven by conscious supply chain orchestration behind the curtain. Their center-led cultures enable consistently high-quality customer experiences tailored, where important, to local tastes.
Supply chain leaders are expanding this demand-driven concept in terms of how they relate to their customers. It is about understanding customers in a deeper way and blending seamlessly into their daily routines.
Ultimately, a deeper understanding of customers in their local environments is helping today’s supply chain leaders capture more revenue for their businesses and improve operational effectiveness.
Digital, Physical Converge
Leading companies have moved past selling only discrete products or services to their customers and are now focused on delivering solutions. Regardless of industry, these companies want their customers to be loyal subscribers to their solutions.
Several of the leading consumer product companies on this year’s list are offering e-commerce subscriptions for their products, in partnership with retailers, to create a seamless multichannel experience. This approach offers convenience and privacy to end customers who would normally buy these products in a physical store and might switch to another consumer brand during any given store shopping visit.
The more progressive industrial companies have suggested order replenishment systems with their dealer networks, based on a superior ability of the manufacturer to forecast demand for their dealer. Some have gone further and are now acting as virtual consultants to their customers’ planning organizations. They recognize that helping improve customers’ internal capabilities is part of a total solution, making them more competitive suppliers.
Trust and Integration
Growth is a top priority for the C-suite in 2014, with 63 percent of senior executives picking growth as a top imperative in the 2014 Gartner CEO Agenda Survey. Leading supply chains are enabling this growth both organically and through successful M&A integration.
At the same time, supply chain leaders are emerging as trusted and integrated partners to business groups. Their focus on profitable growth often leads to smarter, more conscious decision-making, saving business groups from spiraling out of control in the drive to maximize revenue.
However, in the quest for growth, many companies are finding the business models they were famous for dominating are now under attack from competition. The supply chain has a large part to play in enabling these businesses to compete for the future, concurrent with protecting existing business.
The most advanced companies in Gartner’s ranking are not afraid to rethink the design of their global supply networks if that is required for success. In some cases, this has led to increased vertical integration, where leaders are getting into their customers’ and their suppliers’ businesses in an attempt to dominate value chains, redrawing the lines of competition in the process.