Is Trouble Brewing for Apple Following Supply Chain Order Reduction?

A recent report from Credit Suisse has suggested that Apple’s Asian supply chain is weakening following a reduction in orders. Is the tech giant struggling? Or is it just standard market forces at work?

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According to the report, Apple has reduced orders by up to 10 per cent, with this figure expected to grow to 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2016. As a result of this, Credit Suisse has downgraded its sales estimates for the iPhone 6S from 242 million units, to 222 million units.

While this might not seem like a major decrease, the period covered runs through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, which would be a big story for any organisation, let alone one that has dominated the technology scene for over a decade.

What’s more, the company’s share price fell 2.5 per cent on the back of the announcement, which came just 24 hours before the launch of the iPad Pro.

Knock-on Effect in Asia

Lower orders in the Asian supply chain, where Apple has traditionally done a decent proportion of its manufacturing, will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the organisations in the region.

Organisations such as San Disk Corp., AAC Technologies (Hong Kong), Largan Precision (Taiwan) and Texas Instruments, all of which have exposure to Apple’s Asian supply chain, also saw their shares fall following the announcement.

An on-going decrease in orders across the supply chain could lead to a much wider impact, particularly if concerns about falling sales of the iPhone become a reality. However, many experts have said that the situation is not as bad as it seems.

Reasons to be Positive

Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, remains confident and has been quoted as saying that Apple is still receiving strong demand for the iPhone 6S from China. Other reports have suggested that the appetite for the 6S may be on the wane due to rumours of a new and improved iPhone 7 being released next year.

Another US-based investment firm, FBR, also disagreed with Credit Suisse’s announcement, arguing that it was expecting to see “a very strong December quarter/holiday quarter on healthy iPhone 6s demand and legacy iPhone 6 shipments.”

That, combined with a number of new products that Apple has lined up to released during 2016, including a new streaming service and a peer-to-peer payment service, keep the organisation in a very healthy position.

Customer Loyalty

The other thing that stands Apple in good stead going forward is its fiercely loyal customer base. While sales of the iPhone were inevitably going to plateau and then tail off, Apple retains its users through the high-specification of its products.

Apple has also developed its “Apple iPhone Upgrade Program”, which allows consumers to buy phones directly from Apple on a two-year instalment plan, then upgrade after a year or extend the terms for a further 12 months. It is anticipated that the results of this service will show in September 2016, plus drive long-term sales.

Good or bad over the next 6-12 months, Apple is here to stay. It takes a brave investor to back against them, particularly as the company has a reputation for pulling innovative products out of the bag when required.

However, not even Apple are immune to a volatile market and changing trends, so it will be interesting to see if the predictions pan out, and how Apple will react if and when that happens.

What do you think about Apple’s situation? Is it something to be worried about or a flash in the pan? Let us know your thought

Five Gems from Eva Wimmers’ Innovation Workshop – Part 1

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt recently attended a one-day workshop with Eva Wimmers, former CPO of Deutsche Telekom, on innovation in Procurement.

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How many of the CPOs you know would you describe as ‘glamourous’? Not many, I bet. That’s because Procurement still isn’t seen as a particularly glamorous career, despite having all the ingredients that should make it so: world travel, high-stakes negotiations, and rubbing shoulders with C-level decision-makers.

Procurement’s understated profile is most likely a legacy of its back-office beginnings, but things are starting to change. Eva Wimmers, the confident, sharp-dressing, eminently capable former CPO of Deutsche Telekom, is glamour personified. She’s a striking departure from the stereotypical ‘back office’ CPO, and in my opinion the profession needs more leaders like her if it’s going to attract talented Gen-Y professionals looking for an exciting and fulfilling career.

Innovation in Demand

It’s a cool spring morning at The Faculty HQ in Melbourne, and I’m balancing a cup of coffee in one hand and a muffin in the other while chatting with fellow attendees at Eva’s workshop on innovation in Procurement. I’ve met senior and mid-level professionals from National Australia Bank, Realestate.com.au and even from Perth-based Rio Tinto, who have flown an impressive 2700km to join us today.

Why make the trip during one of the busiest times of the year? I’m told there are two main reasons – firstly, insights from the stellar career of someone like Eva are not to be missed, and secondly, Australia’s largest organisations are increasingly turning their attention to innovation in Procurement.

Eva is a knowledgeable and highly successful modern Procurement leader. During her time at Deutsche Telekom, she was responsible for overseeing €27 billion in purchasing value and managed 1500 employees across 50 countries. The workshop today came about as a result of a unique opportunity – Eva is finishing up at DT and moving into an exciting new role (currently hush-hush), meaning she had a rare gap in her calendar.

This is very good news for Procurement professionals in Australia – normally we have to travel overseas to hear from international Procurement stars of Eva’s calibre, and the prospect of an entire day with Eva generated a lot of excitement amongst Australian CPOs and their teams.

In this two-part blog post, I’ll cover five gems that I’ve taken away from Eva’s workshop, namely:

  1. Innovation is an idea that pays
  2. Procurement innovation is both a philosophy and a program
  3. Make time to discuss innovation with your “ideas suppliers”
  4. Diversify your supplier base to include SMEs and startups
  5. There are risks in working with startups, but they can be managed.
  1. “Innovation is an idea that pays”

This quote was the catch-cry of the day. It’s the basis of Eva’s philosophy around Procurement innovation, and it should be the foundation of every CPO’s business-case to invest in startups.

Eva illustrates how Procurement professionals work on the frontlines of innovation. We talk to vendors all the time, and if we know how to listen, this means that we are exposed to a constant flow of new ideas. Other functions, such as IT or even R&D, will only go looking for innovation when they start a new project.

Eva makes the distinction between incremental and disruptive innovation, or “evolutionary” versus “quantum leap” ideas. She illustrates the difference with a description of tall ships; with a millennium of incremental innovation behind them, early nineteenth-century sailing ships were the epitome of luxury and humankind’s harnessing of wind and weather – but they were made obsolete within a few decades by the disruptive technology that led to ocean-going steamships. Our challenge is to keep as informed as possible to try to predict the next big disruption steaming towards us over the horizon.

Eva’s message is to seek out “ideas suppliers” in the form of SMEs and startups. Even if 80 per cent of their innovations are irrelevant to you, the 20 per cent could be absolutely crucial to your business’ competitive advantage.

  1. Innovation in Procurement is both a philosophy and a program

Eva describes her two-tiered approach to driving innovation at DT through changing both the culture and the process. She created cultural buy-in through:

  • Introducing the tandem system – procurement staff are partnered with someone from the functional side (such as an engineer) to encourage the sharing of ideas, leading in turn to innovative thinking.
  • Cross-functionalising by having a variety of functional expertise, professions, backgrounds, disciplines, hierarchies, nationalities and cultures working in self-directed teams.
  • Encouraging Dialogue-rich Procurement – Eva encouraged her staff to greatly increase their communication with both internal stakeholders and with vendors. You’ll find that vendors in particular are eager to share their ideas if you are willing to listen and learn.
  • Celebrating accomplishments – if someone in the team has an innovative idea that leads to a positive change, publish it in a newsletter and share it with your whole team. This will help people realise “I can be innovative too”.

Eva changed the existing process to encourage innovation through:

  • Having vendor meetings to discuss innovation exclusively.
  • Holding regular internal meetings on innovation to plan three years ahead.
  • Diversifying the supply base to include SMEs and startups.
  • Introducing an innovation review panel.
  • Creating an ‘Easy Department’ program by cutting new contracts down to a 5 pages.
  • Incentivising Procurement-driven innovation through a suite of KPIs.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this article on Eva Wimmers’ Procurement innovation workshop.

Have you got what it takes to join Procurious HQ? Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist Opportunity Available

Procurious has an exciting opening in our small but exceptional team for a Digital Marketing and Social Media rising star!

Are you who we're looking for?

This is a new role supporting the General Manager and the Content & Social Media Manager to cleverly propagate and amplify our niche content to build global awareness about our brand and attract new members.

Procurious is looking for a candidate with 2-4 years quality Digital experience, with a strong understanding of social media platforms. The candidate will have excellent communications and client management skills, along with a desire to start a career in the exciting start-up business world.

The candidate should also bring strong writing and project management skills, and have some experience in event management.

We will expect you to jump in at the deep end, and as such you must have a confident and capable personality.

Candidates without digital marketing knowledge will not be considered.

This is an excellent opportunity for an energetic, aspiring candidate to work in a unique start-up environment, taking part in exciting projects over the coming years.

The position is based in London

To apply:

  1. CV: Please send a copy of your CV to Procurious HQ at info@procurious.com marked: ‘Attention: Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist Role
  1. Procurious Video: Along with your CV, all applicants should submit a brief (no more than 3 minutes) video about why you want the job; Why you want to work for Procurious; and why you qualify. We will be looking for knowledge of digital marketing, communications abilities and creativity.

You can find out more about Procurious at www.procurious.com or for more information about this role, please see below for a job description or please contact us with any questions at info@procurious.com

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Job Description: Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist

Responsibilities: 

The Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist will be responsible for supporting the execution of all marketing and communication activities.

This position will interact with Procurious’ third-party suppliers of PR services, sponsorship partners, and with internal stakeholders to develop and deliver the tactical digital marketing plan for Procurious.

Your first task will be arranging and promoting The Big Ideas Summit and other events from start to finish, and supporting the implementation of social media marketing plans.

Digital Marketing & Events
You will:

  • Develop and drive digital marketing initiatives that align with Procurious’ growth objectives, with an initial focus on developing and deploying all pre- and post-Big Ideas Summit event promotional activities across social media platforms and using web-based e-marketing software and social media marketing plans
  • Design and test digital marketing tactics to increase brand awareness and member conversions to Procurious
  • Act as the first point of contact for The Big Ideas Summit and other event guests, speakers and sponsors.
  • Administer and coordinate all logistics and resources associated with The Big Ideas Summit and other events, including all booth hardware, badge registrations, furniture and plasma screen hire, as well as any other on-site services.
  • Manage all external event opportunities and speaking requests received, filter these requests and re-direct them to the relevant individuals within the company.
  • Maintain accurate administrative records in SalesForce.
  • Foster and grow relationships with media and influencers
  • Foster and grow relationships with Procurious community and our partner PR agency

Social Media 

You will:

  • Contribute to and support implementation of Content & Social Media strategy, including:
    • Scheduling and publishing content to Procurious;
    • Writing blog articles and marketing copy;
    • Maintain WordPress associated sites (e.g. bigideassummit.com)
  • Spend time building your own social media presence across Procurious’ main channels to drive engagement with influencers
  • Deliver weekly social media and digital marketing reporting to assist allocation of budget and resources.
  • Liaise with writers and contributors on statistics for guest content on the Procurious blog
  • Help grow and maintain Procurious’ presence across its owned social media accounts through the sharing of written and video content from the Procurious website, as well as the Big Ideas Summit

Key Skills

  • Excellent working knowledge of digital marketing and social media platforms
  • End to end project management skills
  • Fantastic communication and client management
  • Creative – an eye for design/layout and a flair for copy
  • Excellent written English skills
  • Great attention to detail

Personal Specification

  • 2-4 years’ experience, working in a similar digital marketing and event management role. A combination of the two skills would be highly valued.
  • Be flexible and have proven ability to work with limited supervision
  • Excellent organisational and project management skills, able to juggle multiple tasks within challenging deadlines against fixed budgets
  • Energetic, flexible, enthusiastic and self-motivated individual.
  • Adherence to Procurious’ values.

Social Media – Breaking News and Misinformation

Social media was awash this weekend with information, news and an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy in the wake of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night.
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The Procurious team would like to take this opportunity to offer our most sincere condolences and sympathies to people of Paris, and all those affected by this horrendous act of terrorism. We would also offer the same sympathies to the people of Beirut, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, who have all suffered similar attacks in recent days and weeks.

Social media has changed how the world sees events such as the ones in Paris. Breaking news, information and pictures all appear on the Internet during the events, with people uploading their first-hand accounts on the ground.

But, while social media can be a force for good, and a fantastic tool to help victims and their families, there is also a darker side, with misinformation, vitriol and rhetoric all spread in equal measure, often taking the focus away from the real story.

The Good

As the attacks in Paris unfolded on Friday night, many people turned to their phones to get an understanding of what was going on. With the news cycles taking time to unfold, social media was able to fill that gap with the headlines as they broke.

As well as providing access to the breaking news, social media accounts were being used to communicate with families and friends, to let others know that people were safe. Facebook immediately launched its “I’m Safe” button, which was first used during the Nepalese earthquake earlier this year, allowing a simple way to notify hundreds of people at once.

Not for the first time, a Twitter hashtag trended in the wake of the attacks. The #porteouverte hashtag offered a place to stay for those affected by the events, similar to the #illridewithyou hashtag, which trended in December last year following terror attacks in Sydney.

A sign of sympathy, a sign of solidarity, showcasing all the good that social media can accomplish in these situations.

The Bad

For all the good that social media can do, there is a dark side to the power that is wielded by its users. Giving everyone a voice allows for the support and sympathy, but also gives a voice to misinformation and ignorance.

For the most part, the misinformed stories that appear in the aftermath of such events are not malicious. A small story or throwaway quote can be exaggerated out of all proportion, taking on a ring of ‘truth’ as it spreads across social media.

Stories of the Eiffel Tower lights being turned off as a mark of respect (the lights are always turned off at a certain time of night) and of fires at the Calais refugee camp due to an act of retaliation (the cause is still unknown, but pictures were from a fire in November), are just some of the ‘facts’ that grew legs thanks to the virality of social media.

Where the misinformation is malicious, it can lead to hatred and prejudice being spread, and innocent people being targeted as a result. Already there have been arrests in the UK as a result of social media posts over the weekend.

Unifying Force

The power for good of social media outweighs the power for bad in most cases. The volume of news and information we all have access to means we can be better informed and more up to date on all the breaking stories. It would be a shame to see a tool that has the potential for being a conduit for social good be lost to the many, as a result of the actions of the few.

We have the responsibility to use this wealth of information appropriately, and keep our posts factual, especially when it comes to breaking news and events like Friday night (please still have your own opinions – this is part of the beauty of social media too!).

Let’s ensure that we use social media as a unifying force across the world, share quality information (and the occasional cat video…), shine a light in dark corners and allow us to create a global community. Are you in?

Here are some of the top procurement and supply chain headlines this week…

PepsiCo Scraps Marketing Procurement Function

  • PepsiCo has scrapped its marketing procurement function, handing procurement responsibilities to its brand teams
  • The move has been claimed as necessary in order for the company to remain competitive in “an environment where cost cutting and value building are paramount”.
  • With procurement now sitting with the brand teams, the company believes that discussions with agencies will have a more strategic slant, rather than being about cost cutting
  • The move will also help PepsiCo rid itself of the tension that existed between the two functions, while creating a leaner organisation

Read more at The Drum

Indian Supply Chain Firm Makes UK European Hub

  • TVS Supply Chain Solutions has announced its UK arm, TVS Logistics, is to become a regional hub for the business in Europe
  • The move is expected to create up to 100 new jobs at a newly built warehouse and call centre in Barnsley, and up to 500 more over the next 5 years
  • R Dinesh, managing director of TVS Logistics, said: “The UK is a highly successful investment destination for TVS Logistics. TVS will continue to make further investments in the UK and will make it the gateway for future growth and expansion for its business in Europe. ”
  • The announcement comes as Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visits the UK to discuss trade and investment deals worth up to £10 billion

Read more at Supply Management

Alibaba Sees Record ‘Singles’ Day’ Sales

  • Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce website, has seen record sales for its ‘Singles’ Day’ promotion on the 11th of November
  • The platform boasted sales of 91.2 billion yuan ($14.3 billion), a figure that was up by 20 per cent on 2014’s total, and making the day larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined
  • It was estimated that 68 per cent of the total transaction value were orders placed on mobile devices
  • Speaking at the end of Singles’ Day this year, Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, estimated that future events would see growth of up to 50 per cent

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Open Procurement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

  • The nations involved with the newly-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed to opening their procurement contracts as part of the agreement
  • The deal will require its signatories to provide suppliers in other member nations with equal treatment in procurement processes
  • Public agencies will also have to publish tender notices which must include the description, conditions of participation, and selection criteria
  • Organisations will not be allowed to exclude suppliers purely on the basis of them not having won business in that country before

Read more at Supply Management

Mergers on the Horizon for Shipping Industry

A crippling slowdown in the international shipping sector is causing many industry leaders to rethink their strategy, and it appears that mergers are on the agenda.

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Last weekend the Singapore based Neptune Orient Lines announced that it was in ‘preliminary’ talks with both A.P. Moller Maersk of Denmark, and CMA CGM SA, based in Marseille, France over a potential merger.

When asked about the talks, the company was quoted as saying it “has a duty to assess all options to maximise shareholder value and improve its competitiveness.”

Mergers are afoot

These discussions are not the first movements toward consolidation of the shipping industry, a market sector that has been traditionally stagnant and unresponsive to cyclical market fluctuations.

Last year, German shipper Hapag Lloyd merged with its Chilean counterpart Compania Sud America de Vapores. Industry analysts have kept a close eye on the merger, with its outcome likely to have some bearing over the Neptune Orient Lines sale.

Oversupply of Capacity

The consolidation of the international shipping this thought to be driven by a vast oversupply of capacity in the market, coupled with decreasing freight rates.

The industry has traditionally avoided this sort of merger talk, as many firms (including Neptune Orient Lines) are owned by sovereign wealth funds or private organisations, which have been financially stable enough to take a long term position on the market and ride out these cyclical blips. However, it seems the market is due some correction with some industry observers suggesting it is over supplied by as much as 30 per cent.

Decreasing Competition?

Further consolidation in the industry is anticipated in China, with the country’s state-owned Cosco Group and the China Shipping Group Co. in discussions about combining their shipping operations.

The move has been ordered by the Chinese Government, who are looking to consolidate state-owned operations. Between the two organisations there was a total of $911 million in operating losses (EBIT) from container operations in the previous five years, as well as a significant drop in market share.

However, many experts are concerned about the knock-on effect of this merger across the industry in Asia, as it could precede further mergers and alliances in the region, ultimately damaging competition.

Stay tuned to Procurious for news and updates on these mergers, as well as to keep abreast of future changes in the shipping industry.

Procurious Big Idea #48 – Leverage Real-Time Supplier Feedback

Paul Rakovich, Global Market Sector Manager at BP, thinks procurement needs to stop supplier performance management being a transactional activity and create value by speaking to suppliers directly.

By leveraging real-time supplier feedback and data from sources like social media, procurement can use it to analyse and predict supply chain issues and crises before they happen.

See more Big Ideas from our 40+ influencers

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

5 Tips for Using Data in Procurement

This is the century of data and every purchasing professional should be a data person to some degree. How you use data can enhance your career?

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Here are five top tips to improve how you use data.

1. Source – Most organisations have spend data to analyse. Think about other sources of data – 80 per cent of stored data is estimated to be unstructured. Text analytics can give insight into supplier information on social media. Visualising social media data related to a supplier can give timely insights. Note that different parts of the world favour different social media sites, so make sure the countries where your suppliers operate are covered.

The timeliness of your source is also an important consideration. Real time data will allow you to monitor strategy implementations and allow the tweaking of plans to increase success. For example, monitoring maverick spend on a new contract means it can be quickly identified and reduced.

2. Focus – Don’t try and cover too much information in one presentation. Be concise and only include relevant information. Avoid unnecessary ‘chart junk’, the most important parts should demand the most attention. Data experts try and keep the data to ink ratio high. That way your message will be clearer and it will be more likely that your audience will remember it.

3. Story telling – People love and remember stories so include one around your data to make it captivating. You can use a narrative based around time or geography. Add human interest as this engages your audience emotionally.

For example, if you are presenting data on the success of a supplier relationship management programme, you can narrate you presentation around how the programme has developed over time and include anecdotes from individual stakeholders that highlight an aspect of the programme.

Don’t forget that the title can be used to tell the story. For example: ‘Supplier Relationship Management Data vs Improving Supplier Relationships’. The latter will instantly tell the audience what to expect.

4. Visualisation – People are programmed to understand patterns, so graphs are more instantly understandable than numbers. Use appropriate colours. You want colour to emphasise your message not detract from it. Layout the data out with the audience in mind and chose a chart that tell the story you want to tell.

Good design improves user engagement. My key bugbear is pie charts. While they look pretty, people find it hard to compare areas. Length is easy to compare so in general, bar charts are more useful than pie charts for comparisons.

5. Analysis – Use trend analysis to show patterns and to predict or forecast the future. Those that know the data will ask the best questions and be best placed to analyse it, rather than using a specialist analyst.

Access to self-service analysis tools makes this possible. Use this analysis to show your knowledge of the situation and form conclusions that will inform decision making in your organisation.

So get out there and enhance you career and improve procurement by using data effectively.

Juliet Frost is the P2P Business Analyst at the University of Oxford and a procurement and big data expert.

Why More Women in Senior Roles Makes Sense

Should supply chains, and organisations as a whole, be working harder to bring more women into senior roles?

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Recent headlines, research and reports have firmly placed the spotlight on the subject of gender equality. The hack of Sony communications earlier this year very publicly lifted the lid on the lack of equality in salaries for world-famous actors and actresses.

It led to Jennifer Lawrence writing a passionate article on her feelings upon finding out how much less she was being paid than her male co-stars.

Procurement and supply chain are just a couple amongst a multitude of professions in which women are fighting for equality, not just in wages, but also promotion opportunities and organisational responsibilities.

The Business Landscape

Women constitute more than half of the total global workforce, but the figures are much lower when it comes to their presence in the boardrooms of the large organisations. Although recent reports in the UK showed that 26.1 per cent of boardroom positions on the FTSE 100 are held by women, overall there are just 10 per cent of top supply chain executive positions in Fortune Global 500 companies held by women.

Why is this?

There is some evidence that it can be down to perceptions of the roles. Research conducted by SCM World found that the majority of men (63%) and women (75%) believe that the natural skillsets of women differ from those of men, and that these differences are advantageous for supply chain management.

However, other research suggests that women are actually better equipped than their male counterparts for roles within the supply chain. Leaving aside the idea that women think less of themselves, what could be other reasons.

Held to Higher Account?

In many cases, female executives are both better qualified and better educated than male peers. A report from the American Management Association showed that:

  • Women are 33 per cent more likely to earn a college degree than men
  • 36 per cent of women (versus 28 per cent of men) in leadership positions hold STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees
  • Female executives attended colleges and graduate schools that were ranked higher on average than the schools attended by men

In spite of this, it has been suggested that female CEOs may actually be held to a higher standard than male leaders, which causes them to be passed over and left behind when advancement opportunities arise.

Just 4.8 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and only 1.1 per cent earn $150,000 or more per year, compared with 4 per cent of men.

Women in Supply Chain

And this is where organisations are missing a trick. Attracting and retaining women within the supply chain sector is a realistic, common sense solution to many countries’ human resources challenges.

Add to this the fact that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their industry median, and you are looking at a recipe for success.

The benefits are further extolled in this webinar from Kinaxis and supported by Women In Supply Chain (WISC).

In the Real World

The imbalance is borne out when considered against industries and sectors in the UK, but, according to some members of the Procurious community, there may be a change occurring, however slowly.

Helen Mackenzie, Head of Exchequer Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, argued that procurement and supply chain aren’t that different from other professions. Traditionally, and still in some areas, women still have to appear to be 20 times better than their male counterparts in order to progress.

However, the balance is shifting in Scottish Local Government, where 17 of 32 Heads of Procurement are female. Helen also went on to say that expectations of procurement are shifting, which could play into the hands of women, as the profession focuses more on trust, relationship building and communication, something that women often have the edge over their male counterparts.

Juliet Frost, a freelance procurement expert, also hasn’t experienced any discrimination where she has worked, although pointed out that only once has she worked in an organisation where there was a female above her in the hierarchy.

From Juliet’s point of view, it’s important to work for an organisation that values diversity across the board, not just gender related. This will permeate into the procurement team and allow for a greater balance.

Procurious GM, Lisa Malone, believes that the issue for many women is not just balancing motherhood with work, but returning to work full-time after a long period away from the workforce.

Women are joining the supply chain profession in almost equal numbers now, Lisa says, but the numbers drop off in the early-30s demographic, usually associated with family raising. It’s important for organisations to help these women return to the workforce and get back on a career trajectory.

‘Returnship’ Programmes

Some organisations are now actively helping women (and men in some cases too) return to the workforce after an extended, voluntary career break. These ‘returnship’ programmes (a term trademarked by Goldman Sachs) are higher-level paid internships, offering flexible working over a 10-12 week period, often alongside free childcare and mentoring for returnees.

Organisations including Deloitte, JP Morgan and RBS all offer similar programmes – you can find a good list here. The programmes have been credited with helping to bring women back into work, with a good percentage of women offered full-time roles once their ‘returnships’ have concluded.

And finally…

We’ll leave the last word to Women in Supply Chain, with this infographic on how they suggest addressing the growing labour shortage in supply chain management in Canada.

It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

WISC Infographic

Are Drone Deliveries a Good Idea?

There has been a lot of talk about drones delivering ordered good in the media recently. Both Google and Amazon seem to be progressing towards a ‘Jetsons’-like logistics chain faster than was thought possible.

a-german-company-just-left-amazons-and-googles-drone-delivery-plans-in-the-dust

It’s not hard to see the drawbacks to drone-led deliveries. Most people are happy to walk to the store to buy batteries and bread. If the latest Jamie Oliver cookbook arrives at their house, rather than tracking them down on their morning jog, they’ll be pretty happy with that too. The noise, too, is an issue – walking near a drone is akin to sleeping near a mosquito for many.

Beyond these issues, there are some other, more serious concerns that the drone movement could create in our lives.

Air Traffic Concerns

Drones are said to create a major headache for airspace controllers. In July of 2014, an Airbus A320 taking off from London’s Heathrow airport narrowly avoided a crash with a drone. The Civil Aviation Authority classed the incident as a ‘serious risk of collision’ which is highest classification it can give.

Helicopters too have reported close calls with drones. The US Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into an incident where a helicopter crew spotted a drone hovering just metres above them.

If Google and Amazon are able to get their drone program off the ground (pun intended) then the airspace is likely to be much more crowded and the risk of incident will be greatly increased.

Threats to personal safety

Drones too have created serious security threats with one crash landing onto the White House lawn earlier this year, sending the presidential residence into lock down.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has also had a run in with the mechanised device. A drone, driven by a member of the German Pirate Party was crashed in front of her, raising fears for the leader’s safety.

And in Perth, Australia, a triathlete received a head wound when an errant drone trying to photograph athletes crashed into her during a race.

Threats to Privacy

And of course there are the inevitable concerns about surveillance and privacy that surround our skies buzzing with thousands of mechanised drones.

Even with relatively few drones currently patrolling our cities, there are numerous complaints from residents and business about the intrusive nature of drones on their personal space. This is only likely to increase should we continue to move toward drone delivery systems.

Animals hate them

Finally, and comically, it seems that it is not just people who hate drones. Animals too, seem to get rather frustrated with them as this video shows.

So rather than the postman being chased by a dog, it could now be the case that it’s a drone that’s chased by a dog (or perhaps a chimpanzee).

Imagine arriving home to find that your new Jamie Oliver cookbook had made it all the way from the Amazon warehouse to your neighbour’s place, where it was crash tackled and chewed up by your neighbours’ Golden Retriever.

Maybe this needs a bit more thought…

From the Backroom to the Boardroom

The rise of the Chief Supply Chain Management Officer

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Global directional level corporate and policy decision making corridors are going through unprecedented changes. These dramatic shifts have been largely influenced by the increasing importance boardroom executives attach to supply chain management.

Today, the skills and knowledge of supply chain management professionals are increasingly being utilised, with forward-thinking executives and policy makers now officially accepting the chief supply chain management officer as a member of the C-Suite.

Drawing on a sample of international organisations, including Fortune 1000, FSTE 250, JSE 100 companies, and public sector organisations with a combined revenue or spend of well over a trillion USD, the study by Professor Douglas Boateng[1] examined director perceptivities on the strategic importance of supply chain management and, in particular, the increasing boardroom role of the chief supply chain management officer.

C-suite executives that took part in the longitudinal study included CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, directors, and officers from manufacturing and production, mining and recourses, food and beverage, government, agriculture, logistics and public sector organisations.

The Chief Supply Chain Management Officer

The chief supply chain management officer, who often takes responsibility of functions such as procurement, logistics, customer service, and operations, is known to possess the tools needed to innovatively lead value-driven initiatives across such functions, as well as within business units and across broader value chains.

With such sought after skills, it is not surprising that 48 per cent of the above-mentioned research study’s respondents agreed that the chief supply chain management officer will become a standard C-Suite role within ten years.

According to the study, well-crafted supply chain management strategies are considered to be most critical for, among other things, long-term wealth creation, small business development, government service delivery quality, industrialisation, national economic development and job creation.

In terms of wealth creation, 70 per cent of the global executives that participated in the study saw supply chain management and procurement as aspects that they considered to be crucial for long-term wealth creation.

In addition to this, 64 per cent and 66 per cent of the executives agreed that supply chain management and associated procurement aspects has a direct impact on small business development and job creation.

This emerges as particularly significant when compared to the percentages received for perception of logistics’ and finance’s impact on small business development, which came in at 6 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

Growing Recognition of Supply Chain

In relation to complex supply chains, such as government, where service delivery quality is critical for value creation, 34 per cent of global respondents viewed the supply chain management function as essential to the success of quality service delivery. This is an increase of 19 per cent over a four year period.

This significant increase highlights a growing recognition that the supply chain should no longer be viewed in terms of ‘cost of ownership,’ but should rather be regarded in terms of its overall impact on business and society.

Such support of the role of supply chain management in the successful realisation of public sector services and initiatives can further be seen in various governments’ active use of supply chain management to not only improve public sector governance and delivery, but also to add more value to resources, stimulate SMME growth, and create sustainable jobs.

In terms of the C-suite executive having the dual responsibility of directing acquisitions and payments, 86 per cent of the global executives saw this as creating ethical and conflict of interest challenges. Although there seems to be a general consensus, the 14 per cent increase over a four year period clearly indicates that there are concerns among the C-suite members.

Finally, when it comes to the impact of supply chain management on industrialisation and national economic development, the study found that 68 per cent of global executives supported supply chain management and procurement as having direct impact on industrialisation and national economic development.

Transformation of the C-Suite

Based on these statistics it is evident that supply chain management has emerged as a prominent topic on both public and private organisations strategic agendas, and dramatic shifts in director level perceptions relating to the role of the chief supply chain management officer in organisational decision making, is leading to the transformation of the C-Suite.

Additionally, a clear recognition by director-level executives of the increasingly important role that supply chain management occupies in the overall organisational environment, highlights the growing influence that the chief supply chain management officer will come to exert in the boardroom and policy making corridors.

The findings clearly support Groysberg, Kelly and Macdonald changing C-suite assertions in the Harvard Business Review in March 2011[2].

Professor Douglas Boateng is an International Professional Director and an Adjunct academic; a Fellow of the UK Institute of Directors; Africa’s 1st ever appointed Professor Extraordinarius for Supply and Value Chain Management; and CEO of PanAvest International and Partners.

Professor Boateng has been publicly acknowledged by the Commonwealth Business Council for contribution to international supply chain management and emerging world long term economic development. 

[1] Boateng, D., (2015) Gauging director level perceptivities on aspects of supply chain management- A global longitudinal study

[2] Groysberg, B., Kelly, K. and Macdonald, B., (2011). The new path to the C-Suite. Harvard Business Review March