Daily Archives: February 27, 2024

Finally! A “Think Tank” Article that Gets It Right!

the doctor has been reading a lot of “think tank” and “thought leader” articles lately that are completely off the mark. Some are so bad that he’s wondering if the publications are paying interns who know nothing about the space to use “chat j’ai pété” (Chat-GPT) to hallucinate content for them. (And, as you’ve seen, some are so bad and/or make him so angry that he just has to rant about them. Our space don’t get no regard at all as it is. The last thing we should be doing is providing anyone who takes the time to read about it with misleading or wrong information).

All that being said, Supply Chain Brain recently published an article on 2024 Predictions: A New Era of Strategic Supply Chain Design by Donald Hicks, the CEO of Optilogic. In it, he makes six predictions for the new era of strategic supply chain design in 2024.

The first five predictions were good.

1. A shift from short-term to strategic thinking.

COVID demonstrated that we’ve reached the end of short-term JIT thinking, and the recent geopolitical turmoil since has only heightened that reality. Any company that wants to survive has to go back to focus on mid-to-long term strategic thinking that will help it mitigate the plethora of risks it is being hit with and assure supply.

2. An end of the age of unlimited cheap suppliers.

Especially since the majority of these were based in China. As the author notes, China-US relations are deteriorating fast and the Chinese economy is underperforming. Moreover, as a result of COVID, logistics are uncertain and considerably more expensive from China (due to less carrier space, as many ships were scrapped during COVID for insurance settlements, and the need to sail around the capes, due to the Red Sea situation and the prolonged Panamanian drought). So, companies need to start looking elsewhere, and since they let their best suppliers in Mexico and South America wither and die, there aren’t many good options at the moment.

3. Demand for vendor transparency.

In addition to customers becoming more discerning, as the author notes, there are more supply chain regulations that need to be adhered to globally, more sustainability regulations, more denied party regulations, and so on. Companies need to know who they’re dealing with; that all supply chain, sustainability, and regulatory requirements are met; and that any desires of its customers can be met.

4. Market turmoil and the rise of new leaders.

This year is projected to witness down rounds, market turmoil, and a reassessment of strategies. Most definitely. VC went too hot and heavy before COVID trying to force unicorns where the foals weren’t even breeding stock, and then lost heavy in the SVB failure; and PE, trying to get a piece of the payments, online collaboration, and/or FinTech market during COVID paid ridiculous multiples for rather basic offerings that weren’t even complete — and that would never demand the price tag the investors expected. As a result, these PE firms are now looking at payback timeframes of a decade or more, if they’re lucky. This means that cash is sparse, investments will be sparser, and some companies (that overspent and can’t get the valuation) will not survive.

5. Digital Twin Skepticism.

Every supply chain technology vendor is clamouring to tell you about their digital twin capability, but the term “digital twin” is a marketing creation that can’t live up to its ambitious name. Companies don’t always have all the data (or quality data) relating to supplier orders and timelines, inventory levels and factory production in separate operational systems, much less a single location.

There’s no digital twin without complete data, and there’s no complete data. Modern manufacturing companies and direct buyers are figuring this out and not falling for outlandish claims anymore.

The sixth prediction was absolutely fantastic!

6. Artificial intelligence exhaustion, and a return to old-school evaluation.

Hear, hear! Smart companies are getting fed up of the ridiculous claims made by new Open/Gen-AI companies and the paltry results that were delivered, if any. They’re also fed up of the high-price tags relative to the limited value they’re received from “AI” so far.

Thus, rather than relying on the mere claim of being AI-enabled, companies should be expected to showcase their capabilities, substantiate their claims with proof, and provide clear reasons for belief, signalling the return to a more traditional approach to purchasing decisions.

Hear, hear!