Resilience and innovation: How to use YOUR supply chain to get ahead

UK businesses and their supply chains are currently facing some of their biggest challenges in decades. A perfect storm caused by the combination of Brexit and Covid-19, combined with international political insecurity caused by the invasion of Ukraine means that global competitors from advanced and emerging market are threatening the position of UK companies in almost every industry – from automotive to energy, from food production to electronic manufacture.

One of the challenges is that parts and components for any product you can think of can be made almost anywhere in the world. That means senior decision makers at any organisation relying on a supply chain face need to evolve and keep pace with the environment arounf them. Crucially, they need to learn and apply critical strategies, tools and practices taken from advanced management, marketing, economics, technology and engineering sciences. Doing so can lead to better integration and performance in this competitive environment – and those are precisely the skills that BU’s new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course in Supply Chain Management – is looking to build in Dorset’s businesses.

Some of the key aspects for competitive supply chain operations that the course will help to develop include:

Digitalisation – the use of data to improve forecasts, optimise logistics, and automate processes.

Supply chain visibility – implementing real-time tracking and monitoring systems to identify issues such as delays or lack of stock.

Sustainability – using eco-friendly practices such as reducing waste and emissions, as well as sourcing materials sustainably and fairly.

Agile operations – moving away from rigid production methods and adapting approaches that can change quickly in line with customer demand and new market conditions.

Collaboration – working with suppliers, partners and customers to increase efficiency and effectiveness. This includes collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CFPR) systems, and using platforms such as blockchain.

Another key element for those overseeing supply chain operations is a solid understanding of B2B marketing, and how business customer behaviour is changing in the digital era. BU can help managers understand the B2B marketing landscape, and how to align sales and marketing (which so often operate independently of each other with different goals and measurements).

Smart technology seemingly surrounds us in our day-to-day lives, and supply chain operations should be no different. Smart tech offers valuable opportunities for increased efficiency, competitive advantages and new business models. This is particularly the case in inbound and outbound supply chains where businesses deal with technology demands from their partners while dealing with ‘turbulence’ caused by factors such as Brexit and Covid-19.

There can be little doubt that newer developments such as AI, blockchain, big data and the internet of things are going to impact supply chains strategically, tactically and operationally.  It’s not a question of whether to adopt it, more a question of when – and those that move early will be able to give their organisations an advantage that their rivals may not be able to recover.

Finally, an understanding of economics is important, as it offers a macro understanding of how businesses and industries work within supply chain. As businesses target larger markets and identify industry trends, they need to understand the economic opportunities and constraints that lie ahead.

The BU course helps with this, helping attendees to use ‘subsector maps’ to identify opportunities, and to identify the different types of industry linkages to understand the skills and capabilities required to integrate competitively in local and global supply chains.

By exploring all these area, BU’s CPD course will equip business leaders and decision makers with practical insights into strengthening their supply chains. This in turn will give their businesses a competitive edge when it comes to improving their position in their supply chains, both in the UK and internationally.

Sid Ghosh, Kaouther Kooli, Paul de Vrieze, Lai Xu and Davide Parrilli
Bournemouth University

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