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INTM's Gurram Gopal is a panelist at the Supply Chain Innovation Summit in Chicago

INTM's Gurram Gopal is a panelist at the Supply Chain Innovation Summit in Chicago

Gurram Gopal, Ph.D, Industry Professor of Industrial Technology and Management (INTM) at Illinois Institute of Technology had a very thoughtful and insightful panel discussion at the Supply Chain Innovation Summit in Chicago. It was moderated by Sara Hoormann, Principal, Opex Analytics, and the panelists included Kristen Daihes, Partner, OPEX Analytics, Jerry Wang, Global S&OP Analytics, Caterpillar, Matthew Swehla, Sales Director, Schneider, and myself. He discussed many topics including a) the challenges in maintaining agile supply chains and the associated trade-offs, b) managing supply chain volatility, c) untapped opportunities for the application of advanced analytics in global supply chains and the biggest barriers holding companies back from investing in these solutions currently, d) 'Green’ supply chains and the push for sustainability efforts and the tracking and reporting of sustainability, and e) future challenges for supply chain leaders. Dr. Gopal offered his thoughts on some of these topics.

At a strategic level, it is important that supply chain innovation should create, drive, or enhance new business model development. Ms. Kristen Daihes gave an example of Amazon and how it is developing new business models to compete with firms like Proctor and Gamble, and Gurram GoPal mentioned the efforts of P&G in developing new models to compete with retailers like Amazon.

Supply Chain leaders should focus on increasing return on all assets and investments, while reducing the variable costs at the same time. The ability to drive both simultaneously gives a firm a sustainable advantage. While the focus on variable cost reduction is not new, the ability to examine new models to drive asset utilization is critical to success. Tellabs, where Gurram GoPal spent a decade, faced these challenges and we had to drive both parameters to survive. High-tech is a brutal business with challenging supply chain problems, and over time it had to develop strategies for driving the return on invested assets. Dr. Gopal had interesting discussions with James Wynn, Former SVP, Global Supply Chain, Knowles Corporation, who also experienced these challenges. Many industries have a long way to go in this journey.

Finding talent that combines strong analytical skills and modeling expertise with deep supply chain and industry domain knowledge is a key challenge for supply chain leaders. SC managers have to combine internal talent development with external hiring and need to partner actively with higher education institutions. Future success depends on having the best “talent supply chain” and the key “supply chain talent” partners. He also said "My department, Industrial Technology and Management, at Illinois Institute of Technology is addressing this need by preparing our students in both the domain knowledge and analytics skills".

Supply Chain Innovation Summit was in Chicago was on November 19, 2016.

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