New business models and practices resulting from the application of technologies generate opportunities for creating value and profits, as well as reducing costs. The advances made by logistics operators in terms of offering their customers valuable solutions through a digital experience were the main focuses of the Business Networking conference entitled “The digitization of the supply chain: present and future”, organized by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and EAE Business School.
After the Director of the Madrid Campus of EAE Business School, Raúl Bravo, opened the session and welcomed the participants, Alberto Marina, a Board Member of CSCMP Spain and lecturer at the School, took charge of explaining what the association is and does.
Founded over 50 years ago and operating in more than 60 countries, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals is a global non-profit association of professionals working in the supply chain. Its main objective is to disseminate and promote research and knowledge in relation to supply chain management, as well as being a meeting point between current members, thanks to the events, courses and training sessions that it organizes. Every year, the association holds the Supply Chain Leadership Forum and, as Fernando J. Gómez explained, the VP Programs & Education Chair of the CSCMP Spain, “next year, the association plans to focus on developing the area of digitization”.
“Technology enables us to plan in real time in order to make faster decisions and thereby enhance the customer experience”, analysed the professional Fernando J. Gómez in his presentation “Smart supply chains”. “All technology helps us to improve the customers’ experience”, he explained, using the example of the opportunities that certain shoe brands offer in terms of customizing their products, or the experience of shopping in a physical store without having to pay or take out your debit card.
Another of the topics on which Gómez Calmaestra focused was the relationship between the Internet of Things and the supply chain. With practical examples, some of which are already in use, such as self-guided trucks, he explained that there are now platforms for supply chain management and stock planning. Moreover, his presentation touched on the issue of cybersecurity, with practical examples of how to manage the crisis. “There are risks and we see them every day. They will keep happening more and more frequently”.
The expert, who is also a lecturer on the Master in Supply Chain Management at the Madrid Campus, went on to mention that, on many occasions, his students told him that they came from ‘dysfunctional companies’. To make the leap to become an integrated company, he explained that it requires “coordination and teamwork with other departments”. Working closely within the company will generate an extended smart supply chain, which we can manage comprehensively.
Next, Ricardo de Abiega, the Customer Solutions Manager at Kuehne + Nagel, gave the School’s students a presentation entitled “The digital experience throughout the supply chain”, in which the expert with over 10 years’ experience in the sector analysed the current situation and trends. “Our starting point is the fact that consumers expect everything to be immediately accessible from anywhere, which poses logistical challenges to overcome”.
Innovation becomes a key factor in the supply chain, together with technological development. These factors can help to create the solutions to various challenges, such as response time, customized products, reducing complexity and enhancing the capacity for measuring and reacting. In the professional’s opinion, the importance aspect is how we view these challenges. “Companies have to learn to convert these challenges into business opportunities. They are the doorway to access new segments and markets, as well as achieving continuous improvement of the customer experience, innovation, and enhancing efficiency and operational performance”.
Ricardo de Abiega went on to analyse how the rise in international trade is being taken into consideration in terms of logistics, although he admits that we have reached “a certain level of stagnation, which should give us pause for thought”. In a globalized market, “there is an ever-increasing number of players on the market” in a 4.0 industry and, in many cases, “we still operate with outdated infrastructures”.
The professionals who took part in the conference agreed in their definition of the digital supply chain as “a framework in which we start with an international chain and which involves everything from the management of timeframes right through to the end delivery”. De Abiega added that nowadays many companies continue to manage their orders by email, which generated misinformation and delays that are eventually passed on to the customers. “We increasingly have to move towards collaborative platforms on which the management process is clearer and more transparent for all the agents involved”.
With respect to future trends, the students on the Master in Supply Chain Management and the CSCMP professionals discussed the matter openly. “We have to change our mindset, embrace the fact that we live in the 21st Century and take full advantage of the technology available”, summarized Ricardo de Abiega.