13.01.2014  |  Strategi & ledelse

Indspark: Makrotendenser for forsyningskæden: Vær beredt på fremtiden

Indhold fra partner Hvad er dette?

Tre supply chain-forskere skitserer fire udfordringer, som ikke er til at komme udenom for fremtidens forsyningskæde (Bloggen er på engelsk).

Imagine this headline: “Neighboring States Seeking Truce in Battle Over Water Rights,” or this one: “Trans-Polar Ocean Route Cuts Transit Time by 50%.”  

These are not your everyday news items, or not in 2013, anyway.

However, the prospects of interstate conflicts over the most precious of earth’s natural resources are not beyond reproach. Neither is the prospect of a transoceanic route from China to the United States by way of navigating a path through the melting arctic ice caps.  

While the topics of Supply Chain Risk Management and Sustainability are mainstream managerial concerns and actively researched by academics today, scores of emerging risks reside just beyond the view of most organization’s “long-term” planning horizons.  

Macro-level social, economic, and environmental forces have the potential to change the daily lives of people around the globe, and such trends can have a major impact on business success.

These trends will recalibrate business leaders’ commonly held assumptions related to both consumer demand patterns and companies’ and industries’ supply capabilities.

Læs også: Fordele og ulemper ved deling af viden i forsyningskæden

The study of these macrotrends serves as the focus of a new book titled Global Macrotrends and Their Impact on Supply Chain Management. This article summarizes four focal macrotrends and alludes to the challenges and opportunities they may present.

Macrotrend #1:  Global Population Growth and Human Migration
Measurable changes in population growth and human migration are affecting global demand. There are more people on Earth than ever before.

The world’s population surpassed a milestone figure in 2011 -- 7 billion inhabitants.  Given advances in treating some of the world’s most deadly diseases, like malaria and HIV/AIDS, the world’s population is expected to range somewhere between 7.4 billion and 9 billion in 2030, with a number north of 8 billion regarded as likely.

Not only is the world’s population growing, but people are relocating at an unprecedented pace, creating potential chaos for mostly static supply chain processes.

Consider the nations seeing the fastest growth over the past decade: Jordan, Madagascar, Paraguay, and several countries in East, West, and Central Africa, where growth exceeds 2 percent per year.  

Meanwhile, the populations of the world’s most developed markets, including the United States, Canada, Western Europe, China, Japan, and Australia, grew at a rate of less than 1 percent per annum.  Other nations, such as Russia, South Africa, and several in Central Europe, grew at an even slower pace.  

Læs også: Høj kompleksitet i forsyningskæden udfordrer kundetilfredsheden

Now, think for a moment about how your company is serving nations with rapidly growing populations. Rather, most companies maintain intense concentration on the slow growth, developed world, competing intensely for market share with established rivals.

This limited perspective will change in the coming years when pressures for growth and prospects for new business point to entering burgeoning markets brimming with a new class of global consumer, which leads to our second macrotrend.

Macrotrend #2:  Interconnectedness and Socioeconomic Leveling 
Not only is the world’s population growing and shifting, but its appetite is exploding for goods and services that up to now have been reserved for consumers in economically mature markets.  

The Information Age has reached virtually every part of the world and standards of living are improving.  The “flattening world” phenomenon offers tremendous promise for companies poised to serve a rising middle class around the globe.

Despite recent claims that “the American Dream is dead,” it seems that it is alive and well, having spread rapidly around the world.  

The global population’s increased interconnectedness and a leveling of socioeconomic standards across regions will present scores of business opportunities and ensuing supply chain challenges in reaching populations seeking products and services that were previously unknown or inaccessible. To date, multinational companies compete in selected markets around the world and are not yet truly “global.”  

Læs også: Fagfolk skriver: Ambidextaritet i forsyningskæden - om evnen til at kunne drifte og udvikle samtidigt

Key questions arise from unprecedented market expansion opportunities. Are you prepared to compete in these markets? How does a company gain the trust of consumers who have no connection to the brand and products?  Are your channels of distribution poised to reach consumers in emerging locations? Are your products prepared and packaged appropriately for these new consumers?  Addressing these questions represents the mere beginning of the inquiry associated with “global” pursuits.  

Macrotrend #3:  Climate Change and Sustainability 
The statistics are indisputable: our planet is getting warmer.  On the heels of the warmest year on record in the U.S., the average temperature for the contiguous 48 states rose a full degree in 2012.  While a single degree sounds minor, it is anything but. Rising ocean temperatures are believed to be the driving force behind erratic weather patterns worldwide.

Considering the pervasive drought of Summer 2012, the hurricanes, and floods, it’s a weather year that no one wants to repeat anytime soon.

To add insult to injury, Earth’s protective ozone layer is thinning, with holes in the ozone expanding at the north and south poles.  The incidence of skin cancer is on the rise with more dangerous UV radiation reaching Earth’s surface. Beyond warming and erratic weather, Great Garbage Patches are found in all of the world’s oceans. Aquatic life consumes the toxins found in these patches, effectively entering the food chain, and thereby impacting us all.  

Læs også: Sådan ser forsyningskæden ud anno 2021

The range of responses to these observations is disparate: some companies are awaiting regulations to take actions while others are embracing a more proactive stance. These latter organizations are measuring their environmental impacts, seeking to create “greener” products and expend fewer natural resources in the sourcing, production, and distribution of goods and services.  

Increasingly, consumers are seeking out companies with products and services that they can feel good about buying. Companies are also realizing that providing goods in a lean, green, and sustainable fashion makes good business sense.

This macrotrend, in itself, is poised to distinguish what it means to be “world class” in the coming years, with those leading the way creating a positive corporate image that not only wins business but attracts the best talent to the company.    

Macrotrend #4:  Resource Scarcity and Conflicts
The three macrotrends above speak to growing global demands and stresses imposed on our natural environment, which lead to our fourth macrotrend: a straining of the world’s supply of natural resources.

Recognizing that anything of substance in our products and services originates from the earth, there will be increasing competition for these precious resources. Most notorious among these stretched resources are the so-called “rare earth minerals” – the seventeen elements that find common usage in high-tech applications, like the Lanthanum found in electric car batteries or Promethium for portable x-ray units.  

Læs også: Fagfolk skriver: Forsyningskæden som strategisk våben

One nation (China) possesses about half of the known natural supply of these minerals, yet represents 96% of the world’s market share. Of immense concern is the dependence on one nation’s supply of these valuable resources.  

More pressing than minerals supporting high-tech products is the supply of potable water to sustain life. Goldman Sachs points out that water consumption has increased in the United States by 300% over the past 30 years, global water consumption is doubling every twenty years, and estimates that one-third of the global population will not have access to adequate drinking water by 2025 at current rates of supply and demand.  

In light of growing demand for fresh water and the depletion of freshwater aquifers, fears are surfacing of rising conflicts among cities, states, and nations for ownership and access to this most precious of natural supplies.

The market responses to such constraints include regulations and market controls, but there are signals surfacing of rising conflicts and interregional disputes. While speculators in the past century bid feverishly for oil drilling rights, and more recently for natural gas rights, similar business competition is growing today for water rights.   

In reviewing these four macrotrends, there seems to be ample justification for alarm. Such issues have the potential to impose great risks and create inefficiencies for companies that fail to account for them in planning and supply chain operations.

Summarily, we anticipate that sourcing will become more complex as populations with different but homogenizing product expectations increase. This also will happen as the world’s supplies of many key commodities become strained due to overuse and/or suboptimal location versus established supply networks.

The diversity and migratory nature of populations, combined with geopolitical strains and leveling of purchasing power, could yield a confusing, complex, and disaggregated production process, such that conventional approaches to lean manufacturing may not suffice.

Læs også: 5 hurtige: Optimering af daglige rutiner er nøglen til en effektiv forsyningskæde

In Global Macrotrends, we present alternative strategies that should allow for more effective matching of customer needs to production outputs. A key focus is managing more complex networks with scarce assets and addressing the implications of emerging issues such as shortages and congestion on supply chain costs, competitive positioning, and market performance.

There is Hope in Our Supply Chains
Supply chain managers need to address the growing risks associated with complex environmental factors that will impact future business. The good news? Modern managers are already getting better at dealing with supply chain risk as it occurs. Proactive companies can turn a potentially disastrous situation into a market opportunity with proper forethought and action.

The story of Nokia offers another classic example. Nokia’s supply chain managers were able to quickly bounce back in late 2000 after a fire damaged wafer inventory at their supplier’s factory—which just so happened to fulfill rival Ericsson’s demand as well. Nokia’s fast action relative to Ericsson positioned it to grow at Ericsson’s expense. Similarly, Toyota was able to recover relatively quickly in the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese tsunami and continue producing with only moderate hiccups.

Nearly a decade ago, a major study by Hendricks and Singhal (2005) found that a supply chain disruption could drop share prices by as much as 15% -- virtually overnight.  With today’s supply chains more visible than ever before to investors, it’s hard to see how a company can afford to ignore potential disruptions we foresee on the horizon.

The differences between these examples and future outcomes are couched in orders of magnitude and event expectancies. The relatively short-term risks that supply chain managers face today pose only temporary threats that are relatively minor in magnitude (with a few exceptions).

However, the future’s “new norm” appears to encompass the permanent and systemic occurrence of what we would today classify as major threats. 

We believe that only firms that have painstakingly prepared for the macrotrends’ long-term impacts will be sustainable. Effective supply chain management can save companies from the megatrends that are heating up in the global landscape, with consideration given to the shifts in the business environment we describe. Even those who have been successful in the past must realize that the rules are constantly changing.

New threats will call for shifts in supply chain strategies and practices.

Skrevet af Thomas J. Goldsby fra The Ohio State University i samarbejde med Chad W. Autry og John E. Bell fra University of Tennessee.

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