The tech industry is one of the fastest moving in the world. In just a handful of years, products can become redundant, and the supply chain in the tech industry is, by definition, more fluid that in others. New technologies require a plethora of new parts, all of which require their own sourcing process with price, ethics, and efficiency at the forefront of the developments.
2016 was as tumultuous a year for the supply chain as it was for any other industry, with anti-trade political decisions - from Brexit to Trump - bringing in an era of protectionism and unpredictability. Factor into this the need for a ‘clean label’ and supply chain managers are operating in a difficult landscape. Ethical issues can plague major companies and supply chain managers have a responsibility to ensure that all products are ethically sourced.
Luckily, though, new technology is constantly developing to smooth out the supply chain process and increase efficiency. The rise of technologies like blockchain, AI, and the IoT will all have a major impact this year, and could quite possibly offset the uncertainty brought on by the global political landscape. With this in mind, we asked three supply chain experts what they considered to be the biggest challenge facing supply chains in the tech industry:
Ben Oyler, Ancestry
For AncestryDNA our challenges are focused on building a robust, processed driven supply chain that can meet a hyper growth unpredictable industry within a long-time, tech-only driven company. It has taken years of work and internal education to help the business understand the needs that come from having a full hard goods supply chain.
Another challenge is building a strong team of seasoned supply chain experts that can deliver in our high tech first environment as well as they have in their more formal supply chain businesses of the past. It takes a unique set of skills and AncestryDNA has worked hard to meet these needs.
Andrew Burgess, Boeing
For Boeing the two biggest supply chain challenges are cost and production risk management. One of the main leverage areas we have is scale, but as Airbus has gained market share over the last decade we have lost a large portion of this advantage and need to be much more rigorous in our pursuit of cost reductions within the supply chain. At the same time as driving cost out of the system we are ramping up to meet unprecedented production increases. Assuring our suppliers are capable of making these production increases without affecting quality or delivery schedule are critical to our success in the coming years.
Sybil Montalbetti, Yahoo
In short it’s the ability to determine and adapt the right Supply Chain model to suit your business strategy and the holy grail for Integrated end to end visibility. The Supply Chain ecosystem is constantly having to adapt to customer needs, resource / inventory constraints or overages. Businesses and their customers are always striving for ‘faster, better and cheaper’, but is that really possible as a supply chain strategy? Factor in a tech company's desire to maintain low operating costs, innovate and develop home grown tools and the rate at which technologies evolve and you are quickly faced with legacy products and tools that don't scale. Integrated end to end visibility grants a business the information to assess, execute and course correct its supply chain.