Learning from Transformation Leaders: Leveraging New Technologies in Supply Chain

Perspectives
Dec 7, 2020
|
7 Min Read
Warehouse team meets in aisle

In a Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report conducted in July of this year, we learned how leading companies seized global disruption as an opportunity to build operational agility, which prepared these businesses for both crisis and opportunity. This group of transformation leaders was comprised of the 27% of global executives surveyed in the report who rated their digital transformation efforts as “very effective” both before and after the coronavirus pandemic.  

How are leaders achieving transformation success despite global disruption? Well, 69% reported to rely on a dual-track digital transformation strategy, an approach that combines enterprise-wide transformation projects with rapid-cycle innovation across the business.  

Leaders understand the importance of both tracks. Enterprise-wide activities require long time frames, but they are essential for changing technology, corporate policy, and workplace cultures. Meanwhile, these efforts are supplemented by the second half of dual-track transformation, known as rapid-cycle innovation, which is the business-led approach to modernizing workflows cross departments and workgroups. It’s this second track that allows businesses the agility to react quickly and adapt workflows in the face of sudden change.  

With 18% of all survey respondents saying that managing supply chains more effectively is a priority since the Covid-19 outbreak, many progressive business leaders have turned to this dual-track approach for enabling rapid-cycle innovation with the goal of transforming their supply chain operations 

Rapid-Cycle Innovation and Your Supply Chain 

Rapid-cycle innovation allows your business’s digital transformation to extend beyond the IT department and into critical business units like your supply chain. This allows change to happen quickly and effectively, led by the people who are closest to the work and best understand the needs of the business. The impact is evident. 70% of leaders say they increased their organization’s agility associated with operations and business workflows.  

As digital transformation leaders leverage these technologies throughout and across their business, there is an opportunity to use these same technologies to bring rapid-cycle innovation to their supply chain.  

With rapid-cycle innovation enabled, you supply chain becomes more resilient and agile. This is the future of supply chain management. Not only do people have the pertinent data to inform business decisions, but they have the ability to act on this data by iterating and adapting processes to best serve the business’s immediate needs. In your supply chain, rapid-cycle innovation looks like the ability to change suppliers or vendors without impacting production schedules, or shifting production altogether in response to customer trends, sudden closures, or new safety regulations.  

Low-Code Technology in Supply Chain Management 

 Leading companies are achieving rapid-cycle innovation through the implementation of low-code tools. 73% of them, to be exact, rely on low-code business application development platforms to unlock dual-track transformation throughout the business.  

This rings true for your supply chain, especially. With low-code, the people who know your supply chain best can build business applications that can modernize and automate all of your unique workflows and processes. Whether it manages which suppliers are qualified for your company to work with or handles supplier and vender contract renewals, migrating these processes from outdated, manual-work-intensive systems to low-code not only mitigates errors, but saves your business time and money. You can set up applications that automatically notify stakeholders to take action on projects as they are needed, or automatically pull data to build real-time reports.  

 Even though they can be built by citizen developers without a technical software development background, these applications can be sophisticated enough to keep up with high-speed business functions. Many low-code platforms can integrate with and extend the traditional legacy systems that your supply chain relies on to function, such as your ERP. By connecting these disparate systems, your low-code applications become a single-source of truth for all essential data and information. This data is updated in real-time, providing the people in your business with full visibility into the status of contracts, inventory, deliveries, and more.  

But what sets low-code apart as the best technological tool to drive rapid-cycle innovation is that it is fully customizable. Every feature of the applications you build – from the data fields to the user dashboards to the administrative controls – can be adapted to fit the unique needs of your business. And what’s more, these can be continuously iterated on and changed as your production changes, your processes improve, and ultimately, your business scales.  

Browse the Quick Base App Exchange for customizable sample applications that enable rapid-cycle innovation in your supply chain.
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