Supply chain innovation is more than just technology

‘Innovation’ is another one of those buzz words that seems to be the headline of every article and the item on everyone’s agenda. Especially in supply chain, which has weathered a beating these last couple of years, everyone is focused on innovating and innovation. These words have become basically synonymous with technology and digital transformation, but supply chain innovation is about more than just technology.  

Everyone is scarred by how underprepared they were for the chaos that came with the pandemic, especially those in supply chain. And while no one is hoping (nor expecting) for such a catastrophic paradigm shift again in the near future, supply chain leaders are definitely keen to develop a more agile, reactive business. This is where innovation comes in. 

Innovation for your business  

Innovation doesn’t just refer to robots and drones. For the supply chain, it’s a continuum of small improvements, it’s new ways of working, it’s finding gaps in your supply chain and plugging them with new solutions. Thinking about innovation with this mindset will be helpful especially at the C-suite level, as you look to implement long-lasting change throughout your organisation.  

For your unique business, innovation could be something as simple as identifying a problem and coming up with a previously untried solution. Take the example of The Jel Sert Company, a food manufacturer of snacks such as Skittles. The company had been using half-pallets to ship mixed products to retail stores for display, but this resulted in significant damage to the products as well as waste, leading to complaints from customers. Jel Sert then partnered with CHEP, a sustainable moving company, to pool their pallets and create better ones, eliminating product damage, reducing waste by 130,000lbs, and managing to avoid releasing 100,000lbs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The lesson here is about collaboration, and it doesn’t even necessarily have to be outside your business. Even your internal departments could benefit from working cross-sector.  

Leadership innovation 

Right now, the biggest problem most businesses are facing – regardless of region, industry, or age – is attrition and retention. The Great Resignation can almost be seen as an equalizer, as there are very few entities currently not suffering from this phenomenon. The question you should be asking as a supply chain leader is, “How can innovating within my HR processes help curb this trend?”  

Despite insisting that innovation includes more than just technological improvements, it may well be true that introducing new forms of tech to your HR processes is the best way to innovate. But it could also be something as simple as changing the questions you ask in your interviews, shortening the hiring process, or sending new hires a welcome box after they sign their contract joining your company. Ultimately, you should be looking to streamline your process whilst also crafting it with care, engaging with your candidates on a personal level and providing them with a unique experience rather than a dry one characteristic of many large companies in the past.  

There has never been a better time to work in supply chain, with opportunities aplenty and the freedom to explore new avenues of innovation. Whether your innovation comes from simply optimising your company’s communications or whether it’s a large scale digital transformation, it is a necessary cornerstone of ensuring your business is fit for the future.  

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with all the latest trends and developments taking place across the end-to-end supply chain. For more insights, visit Proco Global remains available to discuss any of the trends discussed above and how we can help you navigate the future of supply chain.  

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