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Future of Supply Chain Summit Takeaways

Silicon Foundry partnered with Kearney to host the Future of Supply Chain Summit at SHACK15 in San Francisco, bringing together corporate leaders, investors, and startup founders. The two day event incorporated panels and roundtable discussions about technology, leadership, sustainability, and innovation opportunities across a broad range of supply chain topics. Here we share key takeaways. 

 

Disruption & Opportunity

The disruption and shortages of critical goods that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on supply chain operations. There is now a greater emphasis on supply chain tracing on the upstream side. Corporates want more control over and insight into the operations of their vendors, and the vendors of their vendors, etc., until you get to the origin source of raw material inputs. Furthermore, corporate leaders feel the pattern of nearshoring operations will continue, providing faster reaction times, and easier communication channels.

 

Supply chains must also be agile. Leaders predict that Gen AI will allow for greater scenario planning and risk analysis into upstream disruption.

 

Innovation & AI

Leveraging artificial intelligence across supply chains will enable corporates to accelerate productivity, and the scale of data available will enable transformative application. However, there are two key factors to consider while evaluating implementation; data quality and cost of implementation.  

 

Data hygiene is paramount. AI technologies will not be impactful if a company’s data is not organized. Therefore, ahead of onboarding any AI tools, corporates should prioritize organized data systems and tracking in order for the tools to be impactful when implemented. 

 

Given the complexity of enterprise AI applications, compute cost is a significant factor to consider. Investors tend to think about software startups as significantly more capital efficient than hardware startups due to the CapEx cost of hardware R&D. However, AI startups are increasingly less capital efficient due to the cost of compute. While premier AI models are predominant, an alternative is to use less advanced AI models for select applications in order to reduce costs. 

 

Sustainability

When done intentionally, sustainability practices positively influence both commercial and internal goals. Most people are motivated to work for or buy from companies that align with their values, and sustainable practices continue to be at the forefront for many. If sustainability efforts and investments are part of a company’s mission statement, values, and practices, the company will see positive engagement from employees, prospective employees, and customers. Therefore, decarbonization investment does not have to be a cost center, as it can lead to increased conversions from customers who value buying from companies who engage in sustainable practices. 

 

People First Strategy

Success relies on a people-first approach. Leadership must be agile and willing to adapt, similar to the supply chain structures and networks. In turn, leaders can foster alignment towards a common mission and goals by investing in team members, including employee collaboration with technology. To foster an innovative culture, cross-functional collaboration is critical, and employees must be educated on the ways in which talent is needed for both implementation and ongoing oversight of new technologies. 

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