At the recent Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, we heard echoes of the data visibility and customer service themes we reported in our last blog on SAPPHIRE NOW. However, though the themes were consistent, there was a definite contrast in how SAP and Gartner delivered them.

While highlighting the amazing innovations that are possible, the Gartner event offered plenty of valuable discussions for supply chain operators on the incremental steps necessary in order to execute the desired future state and associated outcomes. In a nutshell, there’s no magic wand, but we were glad that visibility of supply chain digital data was a common point of discussion—it’s Verusen’s “sweet spot.”

Here are some of the takeaways we noted:

Digital visibility is key to competitive advantage. The theme of digital visibility came up several times, whether talking about connected ecosystems or fully integrated supply chain partners. The bottom line is that no matter how effectively a company can move physical goods, they must get better at moving the digital goods to stay competitive. 

Personalization is key to delivering the best customer experience. A build-on to SAP’s theme, the supply chain must have the capability to keep pace with rapidly changing product portfolios, support new go-to market strategies that create variability (direct-to-consumer, eCommerce, subscription models, etc.), and deliver a more personalized product faster than ever.

Hype around the digital supply chain remains. Supply chains need to automate more and scale digitally, but the gap between where most companies want to go and where they are today is so large that many incremental steps are needed. As one panelist put it, companies need to “think big, but start small” in this area.

The supply chain is evolving from cost center to revenue generator. The best supply chains not only create a competitive advantage from a manufacturing and product delivery perspective, but they’re also designed to enable new business models and are expected to drive revenue growth.

Supply chain leaders need to communicate technology roadmaps. Digitization is happening faster than ever, but supply chain leaders need to do a better job aligning with other business leaders to communicate their technology roadmaps. Failing to accomplish this alignment delays adoption and leads to optimizing the current state rather than innovating for the future state.

As we consider these key points from the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, it’s important to note that simply putting all of your supply chain data in one place has limited impact in moving you through your digital supply chain and Industry 4.0 journey. A clean view provides the data foundation for key strategic initiatives. Empowering the data foundation with knowledge and understanding of the data through technologies like our AI-based, predictive solution will see successful implementation, positive movement, and scalability to create an intelligent, connected supply chain.