Supply Chain Strategies: Do Fast Followers Beat Innovators?

I recently came across an article in Supply Chain Management Review that references an AMR Research brief suggesting some pretty interesting things about who wins in the world of supply chain: innovators or fast followers (or patent pirates -- counterfeiters). According to the piece, fast-followers (like Dell), who specialize not in product innovation but in efficiency, excel in four areas: reuse, inventory management, demand signals from market demand and efficient design and engineering. Perhaps the most insightful of these is reuse. According to AMR Research, "Fast followers are brilliant at reusing components to reduce waste and sourcing demands ... Many have policies in place that require the use of only certain materials, patterns, and such to ensure lower costs and quicker turnaround. If there is one lesson to be learned from the fast-follower world, it is reuse." Of course this is great validation for procurement driving influence upstream into the design phase for new products, not to mention focusing on standardization around indirect materials and services to reduce costs further.

- Jason Busch

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