Three arrows on target make global supply chains successful in 2024

Supply chain leaders and Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) are set to benefit from numerous exciting advancements in technology, providing them with opportunities to support new business models, augment and automate decision making, and foster ecosystem collaboration. But what makes Global Supply Chains successful in 2024? What are the main success drivers?

Gartner has revealed the 20th edition of its annual Global Supply Chain Top 25, a prestigious list recognising leading supply chain organisations and identifying the underlying trends driving their performance. Schneider Electric retains top spot in this year’s ranking, seeing off competition from technology giant Cisco Systems. Colgate-Palmolive, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson complete the top five.

The Top Global Supply Chains

Gartner’s Global Supply Chain Top 25 comprises two main components: business performance and community opinion. Business performance in the form of public financial and ESG data provides a view into how companies have performed over the past three years, while the community opinion component gives a peer and Gartner expert view into companies’ future potential and reflects leadership in the supply chain community.

“The supply chain organisations in this year’s Top 25 were notable for better protecting growth rates in a challenging operating environment, while at the same time delivering more sustainable operations,” comments Simon Bailey, VP Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. “The best supply chains now have ESG criteria firmly embedded in their operations, while delivering higher-than-average growth rates, better returns on physical assets (ROPA) and stronger margins.”

Engaged employees make global supply chains successful in 2024

The main success drivers

But what makes Global Supply Chains successful in 2024? What are the main success drivers? Highlighting the underlying trends driving the performance of the Top 25 and Masters companies, Gartner points to three main standouts:

1. Engaging talent

CSCOs know that redefining the skills, roles, relationships and structures within their organisations is critical to driving high performance, but supply chain employee engagement continues to underperform other parts of the business. Gartner says that, in contrast, the Top 25 leaders are more consistently funding people-centric strategies to drive higher engagement from their workforce. This includes using AI to redesign and automate processes to reduce work friction and investing in knowledge management and L&D systems.

“Efforts to improve people strategies will only be effective if the companies are meeting basic employee needs, such as respect, recognition, autonomy and flexibility,” says Bailey.  “The Top 25 leaders are accelerating cultural transformation and innovation through redefining the employee experience, utilizing connected worker and human-centric work design with a continued focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.”

2. AI-driven advances

Supply chain organisations are actively assessing Gen AI potential, especially in customer service, planning and manufacturing, but many are struggling to find clear use cases. Gartner contends that the most advanced supply chains have been built on solid foundations in data and digital capabilities. They evaluate both traditional AI techniques and Gen AI to build practical use cases that benefit most from AI-driven advances.

Crucially, Gartner says the success of supply chain AI strategies will depend heavily on the success of attracting and engaging talent. AI will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on talent – the key is for CSCOs to prepare their workforce by considering future demand for both skills and people based on how the enterprise will apply the technology.

3. Antifragile supply chains

The consulting giant adds that AI can also be an enabler of antifragile supply chains, which stand to benefit from ongoing uncertainty. Across various industries, leading supply chain organisations have been dealing with a complex, volatile and uncertain environment. The solution, Gartner notes, is for CSCOs and their teams to embrace uncertainty, learn from it and evolve toward an antifragile supply chain. 

Moving a supply chain into an antifragile state requires multiple shifts that influence how decision-making processes, technology, network design and many other elements of strategy are conceived and used. “The antifragile state helps a complex global supply chain understand how it can achieve – and better achieve – its enterprise objectives, despite disruption and uncertainty,” reads Gartner’s report.“Antifragility illuminates the key linkages between risks, disruptions and performance. This enables more uncertainty-informed decisions about resource use and investments.”

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