3 ways to turn your supply chain into a growth engine

  • Posted on March 4, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
3 ways to turn your supply chain into a growth engine


To shift from recovery to growth in 2021, differentiate your organization by transforming to a customer-centric supply chain faster than your competitors. That may seem a daunting prospect; however, you can simplify the process by focusing on three actions.


1. Democratize your data

In most organizations, product and manufacturing teams are heavily siloed and separate from customers. Providing these internal teams with access to feedback and open data from customers and partners is critical to maintaining relevant and profitable products and services. Visibility into these insights also inspires new revenue generation ideas and more avenues for co-creation with customers and partners. Democratization of open data requires common standards across internal teams, as well as supply chain partners, which involves significant cooperation on processes and cloud technologies. However, it’s also an opportunity to shift the supply chain from a focus on costs and efficiency to become a growth engine.


MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR) notes that organizations can monetize data in three ways: 1. Improve internal business processes and decisions; 2. Wrap information around core products and services; and 3. Sell information offerings to new and existing markets. Embracing a data mesh approach will fast-track monetization and transition your supply chain to a value chain sooner than competitors.

2. Think “outside-in” to define your core business

We may not know what comes next, but regular change is a certainty. The unrelenting challenge for all organizations through frequent disruptions will be to keep focused on core business drivers, while still innovating new products and services to meet changing customer and employee needs. Focusing on personalized and frictionless experiences will help clarify your core business and make it possible to align around a “north star” vision. With this direction, your organization can then focus on differentiating the “crown jewels” of your business in cooperation with existing supply chain partners. Equally as important, your organization can more fluidly adapt these differentiators to plug into other ecosystems and unlock new revenue streams.


3. Reset as a more resilient and responsible supply chain

Alignment of your organization’s objectives with those of supply chain partners is key. Deciding who owns the customer experience is important. However, all links in the chain must have a common focus and shared culture of transparency, ethics and integrity. To reset as a more resilient and responsible supply chain, organize around products and services, not silos. Even better, consider how to reengineer your supply chain with a “life events” focus, as advocated by MIT CISR.



Apply service design principles to identify all the touchpoints a customer will have with your organization, in order to provide a personalized and frictionless experience. For example, a manufacturer that currently sells by individual product lines could instead curate all the products and services for a customer to build a house, including from partners and possibly competitors. Also think about opportunities to optimize sustainability through the sale and resale of your products and services, perhaps using crowdsourcing to promote a circular economy approach and establish a more responsible supply chain.


As you embark on these three actions in 2021, a vital question your organization and partners will need to consider is whether your supply chain should radically reset quickly or slowly transition over time. The temptation will be to take cues from the velocity of your competitors, but this global disruption has taught us that fortune favors the bold, and complacency can be fatal. Centering on the experiences of current and future customers will help you navigate the best way forward. 


Whichever path you choose, your organization will require the flexibility of an Evolutionary Architecture to become more resilient and remain ahead of competitors. An Evolutionary Architecture also facilitates orchestration across ecosystems. Cloud-powered open platforms, democratized data, and an API-first approach are key pillars of an Evolutionary Architecture and will help make your business more modular and agile. Some organizational surgery will also be necessary to evolve decision rights and mobilize as an outside-in, customer-obsessed supply chain.


Need help to rethink your supply chain and choose a path forward? To reset your organization to be ready for continual change, contact us.     


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