To achieve digital growth, top chief supply chain officers change the culture, report says

An Accenture report found that chief supply chain officers who outpace their peers in scaling digitally enabled solutions and fostering positive customer experiences are CSCOs who are good at change management. More than half of supply chain leaders said a lack of “change-ready culture” was their biggest obstacle to success, according to Accenture.

CSCOs, who sometimes have the title chief operations officers (COOs), oversee a range supply chain issues. CSCOs primarily focus on responsibilities such as managing supplier partnerships, product innovation and product delivery. Reimagining their workforces to combine the best of human and machine capabilities is not part of the traditional CSCO role — but is quickly becoming a necessary step toward success, the report said.

Among CSCOs who cited a lack of a change-ready culture at their organization, Accenture found that these professionals achieve a lower return than their peers — about 20% — compared with roughly 24% of CSCOs who did not identify a cultural issue.

“To reach the customer centricity and growth that spell success, CSCOs will need to drive new levels of collaboration and productivity in their teams,” the report states. “To build a culture that supports competitive agility within their teams, they will reimagine how humans and machines work together to capitalize on the best of both.”

The Accenture report surveyed 1,350 executives across a range of discrete and process producers with annual sales exceeding $1 billion.

Digital initiatives and success

Survey participants revealed that regarding digital investments, business leaders who adopt a more sweeping scope see stronger returns than their peers.

Successful companies include those that have scaled more than half of their digital initiatives and earned a return on digital investments that is greater than the average industry return on digital capital and return on digital investments.

Leading companies are also significantly more enthusiastic about investing in automation at scale and preparing their employees with the skills needed to succeed in the digital world. Those who invest in their employees’ skillset see a 3% increase in return on their digital investment, according to Accenture.

“The dual investment sets the stage for humans and machines to work together to unlock greater value than either could alone,” the report said.

More AI and greater focus on talent

While companies are beginning to rely more on machines to perform mundane tasks, Accenture’s survey found that 61% of business leaders expect the share of roles requiring collaboration with artificial intelligence (AI) to increase throughout the next three years. At the same time, only 3% of those survey respondents said they plan to boost investments in training and reskilling programs significantly in the next few years.

Accenture also noted in its new report a need for successful companies to “collaborate from the outside in.” About 78% of leading companies said they embrace becoming an “ecosystem orchestrator” and are building pools of talent that can drive that change.

Companies that go beyond developing their own talent and focus on sourcing it from their network are securing skills in new ways, the report states.

“Our leading CSCOs then work with this talent in a deliberate culture of experimentation and openness to forge digital partnerships with their ecosystems,” the report said. “They don’t work in traditional siloes — instead they band together from the outside in for the customer centricity that will help them grow as a company.”

Successful CSCOs will likely need to implement a combined approach to scaling digital technology while investing to ensure workers have relevant skills, Accenture found.

Organizations that reap the rewards of change were shown to do three things particularly well:

  • Build an infrastructure for change
  • Drive change by embedding it in the business’ daily operations, from recruitment to succession planning
  • Invest in a customer-centered supply chain

“Combining their workforce’s resources with the best their ecosystems have to offer, leading CSCOs are reinventing the customer-centered supply chain,” the report states.

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First Voice

  1. Erik J Bergeman:

    The linkage between agility in supply chain and successful customer experience is clear an indisputable. This is not just a matter of managing cost, it’s about service and speed. To treat it any differently is a recipe for failure.

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