GOOD QUESTION: True or False? Managing Supply Chains Is More Challenging Than Ever

GOOD QUESTION: True or False? Managing Supply Chains Is More Challenging Than Ever

Is supply chain management the toughest it has ever been? Or are tech tools so advanced they’re alleviating the uncertainty and guarding against disruptions? Industry insiders have a lot to say.

TRUE. Geopolitical tensions create unpredictability, impacting global supply chains profoundly. Trade barriers and shifting alliances force companies to continuously reassess and adapt their strategies, seeking alternative routes and suppliers, increasing complexity and costs.

–Mark McCullough
Gebrüder Weiss North America

FALSE. Modern digital platforms are making supply chains more efficient, facilitating seamless communication and connecting new buyers and suppliers worldwide.

–Grigoris Lamprou

TRUE. The intricacies of modern supply chain management require a constantly evolving strategy to identify areas for improvement and implement continuous initiatives to enhance efficiency and reduce costs—all while continuing to provide a comprehensive set of solutions for customers.

–Mike Rindy

BOTH TRUE AND FALSE. During the pandemic, the industry faced significant disruptions, leading to major transformation initiatives across supply chains with the intent of reducing challenges. However, the post-pandemic environment is highly complex and arguably equally challenging as organizations implement new technology and work hard to upskill.

–Geoff Coltman
Vice President, Client Engagement
Catena Solutions

TRUE. Due largely to the rise in ecommerce, brands are experiencing new challenges to keep up with customer service demands, which impact operations inside the four walls. Demands like speed, quality management, and low shipping costs have always been important, but it has intensified because consumers now have more options than ever.

–Anthony Jordan
EVP & Chief Operating Officer
GEODIS in Americas

FALSE. Supply chain management is just as tricky as it has always been. What’s different is the number of tools at our disposal to do it well. Making the leap to data-driven decision-making generates the most impactful results in the trucking and transportation industry.

–Chris Jamroz
Executive Chairman and CEO

TRUE. In addition to managing the standard flow of business and doing more with less, managers are faced with more data being created and provided to them than ever before. Efficient processing of this data drives success in operations and forecasting, while ignoring or focusing on the wrong data leads to inefficiency and failure.

–Bill Wappler

TRUE. Supply chain management will become more complex in the future as new countries like Vietnam, Kenya, Turkey, Costa Rica, and Mexico join China as supply points. This will require logistics operations teams to adapt to different trade lanes, ports, and carriers.

–Bryn Heimbeck
Co-Founder and President
Trade Tech Inc.

Supply chains are more challenging than ever to manage because of the increased speeds they operate at, greater customer expectations for higher shipment precision and real-time information, their global nature and heightened security risks, and labor shortages. However, some of these challenges can be mitigated by employing digitization strategies.

–Chris Jones
EVP of Industry

TRUE. There’s a decrease in goods flowing from Asia to North America, which is creating rapid, once-in-a-lifetime shifts in global trade flow. There are very few supply chain professionals who aren’t facing this on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, artificial intelligence offers new ways to run your business and huge economic opportunities.

–Al Sambar
General Partner
XRC Ventures

FALSE. To manage today’s increased demand for end-to-end supply chain visibility, supply chain practitioners have access to more information than ever before. By using predictive analytics, control towers, and other emerging technology, these leaders can better manage and make more informed decisions.

–Felix Vicknair
Vice President, Supply Chain Solutions

TRUE. Geopolitical and economic factors have heightened existing hurdles, and the increasing emphasis on sustainability has many enterprises rethinking their manufacturing and supply chain strategies. Inbound logistics processes have been significantly impacted by high costs, unpredictable lead times, and uncertain delivery dates.

–Shashank Mane
Go-to-Market Leader, Manufacturing
Capgemini Americas

Supply chains will always face challenges. What is vital is that logistics providers adapt their services. That level of service can make the difference between success and failure for customers, both big and small.

–Gaurika Gurugamage
Operations Manager
GAC North America – Logistics

TRUE. Recent geopolitical tensions are another stark reminder that supply chains need to adopt effective risk management tools. Economic instability, coupled with changes in consumer buying behavior, requires supply chains to be increasingly agile to adapt quickly, all of which are managed in an environment that is experiencing dramatic change.

–Colm McElroy
VP, Global Accounts

FALSE. While managing supply chains is still challenging, it is not nearly as bad as 2021-2022 during the height of COVID. At that time suppliers could not deliver predictably, resulting in key components not being available, which cascaded into stoppages.

–Dave Snider
Vice President, Marketing

TRUE. Orchestrating the supply chain is like being Santa on Christmas Eve but doing it 24/7/365 and doing it through demand uncertainties, global complexities, and disruptive world events. But doing it with the magic of technology today, we are more responsive and adaptable than ever.

–Mike Wilson
Consolidated Chassis Management

TRUE. Customer demand is more varied and volatile than ever. While supply chains continue to elongate globally at a time of rising geopolitical uncertainty, supply chain leaders must orchestrate across a host of disparate data, relationships, and events to deliver certainty of outcomes for their organizations.

–Ryan Lynch
SVP Strategy & Marketing

The answer is dual-faceted. True, managing supply chains has become more complex due to a confluence of external uncertainties such as intensified competition, climate change implications, fluctuating regulations, and geopolitical dynamics. Internally, companies are also grappling with changing business models, omnichannel demands, and cost pressures.

That said, it’s also a transformative era. Advanced data and technology have ushered in unprecedented maturity levels for supply chain management. The pandemic, for all its challenges, spotlighted the supply chain, reframing it from being just a cost center to a strategic differentiator. The pre-COVID status quo is behind us, making adaptability and leveraging best-fit tech solutions non-negotiable for supply chain success.

–Marc Koehler
Director of Product Strategy
RELEX Solutions

TRUE. Supply chains now grapple with rapid technological evolution, climate change impacts, and increased consumer demands for transparency and sustainability—making management a more intricate and demanding task.

–Spencer Steliga
founder and CEO

TRUE. Managing supply chains is now increasingly challenging due to evolving global dynamics, sustainability initiatives, and changing consumer preferences. What were once periodic disruptions, have now become frequent, almost daily interruptions that demand agility and adaptability. Organizations must navigate complex supply and value chains to remain competitive in a volatile market.

–Stephen Dombroski
Director Consumer Markets
QAD, Inc.

TRUE. Managing today’s supply chains is exceptionally challenging due to a shifting landscape. Teams seek to optimize cost in procurement, freight, inventory, and unit costs, though these goals can conflict. Finding the right balance can be challenging so flexibility and responsiveness are paramount in navigating this complexity.

–Dakonya Freis
VP of Commercial Development

TRUE. The rapidly evolving technology landscape, economic turmoil, and instability in an interconnected global economy, the ever-changing consumer demands and trends driven largely in part by ecommerce and social media, and the ever-growing talent and labor shortage in the supply chain industry has made supply chain management more challenging than ever.

–Nilay Parikh

TRUE. Although we now have technology that helps us increase efficiency and accomplish more with fewer resources, the sheer complexity of modern supply chains combined with elevated expectations from customers makes it incredibly challenging for managers to stay on top of their many commitments.

–Martyn Verhaegen
Chief Technology Officer

TRUE. Uncertainty surrounding geopolitical realignment, stagflation, climate change mandates, and the deployment of artificial intelligence are things that supply chain managers cannot easily be proactive about. Worse, some of these things work against each other. But on the bright side, meeting these diverse challenges should be exhilarating.

–Dr. Darren Prokop
Professor Emeritus of Logistics
College of Business & Public Policy
University of Alaska Anchorage

FALSE. Supply chains have always labored under the tension between efficiency and resiliency. In the past few years, we have over-indexed efficiency. Constructing the supply chain of the future is just as difficult as building a highly efficient one of the past. While the issues change, the complexity doesn’t.

–Joe Adamski
Senior Director

Managing supply chains has never been easy. Innovations in technology and data management have increased supply chain visibility, which, while beneficial, can also create the illusion of additional complexity in the form of newly available data. However, with connected, unified tools, supply chain management actually becomes much more streamlined.

–Ryan McMartin
Product Marketing Manager
Parsec Automation

TRUE. COVID-19 raised consumer, business, and supplier expectations. While technologies, collaboration tools, and AI/ML capabilities are becoming mainstream, key areas are still a challenge with the wrong approach, disruption, and disconnected solutions. Improving service levels, costs, margins, inventory in-stocks, and competitiveness is a moving target that requires technology investments.

–Ann Marie Jonkman
PMP, Senior Director
Global Industry Strategies
Blue Yonder

TRUE. Although the supply chain has become leaner and more modernized, supply chain management remains more challenging than ever, due to factors that include driver shortages, inflation, and continued shifts in consumer demand and behaviors as we emerge from the pandemic.

–Diron Bell
National Accounts Manager
iGPS Logistics

FALSE. This may be counterintuitive. Yes, today’s supply chain challenges are huge. But the tools we have to overcome these challenges are better than ever. Big data, machine learning, AI, cloud-based inter-company collaboration have all emerged in solutions that are readily accessible for nearly every part of the supply chain. These tools make complex, global supply chain problems easier to prevent and to solve.

–Tony Harris
SVP & Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer

FALSE. Despite new complexities popping up seemingly every day, supply chain management has always been about increasing efficiency, reducing risk, and lowering costs.

Even through rapid inflation, lingering effects from COVID-19, and global labor shortages, we’re now able to uncover granular insight and build smarter systems that weren’t fathomable a decade ago.

–Jason Hehman
Client Partner and Industry 4.0 Vertical Lead

TRUE. Supply chain management is increasingly challenging due to factors like global expansion, rising customer expectations, digitalization, and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Balancing efficiency, resilience, sustainability, and ethical concerns adds complexity, making it more challenging than in the past.

–George Maksimenko
Chief Executive Officer

TRUE. New challenges are presented to supply chain managers every day. Changing global climates, new technologies, and evolving customer expectations ever increase the demands on us. Stay informed, plan for contingencies, and leverage the talents of the people around you to excel in our ever-changing world.

–Jim Heide
COO & Co Founder

TRUE. Ever-tightening global ESG regulations have necessitated greater transparency and more rigorous supplier management than ever before. Implementing compliant and sustainable sourcing processes adds layers of complexity to supply chain operations, which is more than retailers can manage without the aid of a sophisticated multi-enterprise platform.

–Lilian Bories
Chief Marketing Officer

FALSE. It is true that managing supply chains is more important than ever. That said, suppliers across the globe have higher awareness of sustainable supply chain goals and regulations, and there is a growing list of technology providers who can help brands engage suppliers to achieve these goals.

–Joe Schloesser
Vice President

FALSE. Managing supply chains will always be tough because the challenges are ever-changing. Today, the biggest challenge is risk management and making smart bets. Capital and labor market fluctuations must be considered in the context of consumer expectations, sustainability, and geopolitical changes. Not easier or harder, just different.

–Eric Lien
Executive Vice President, Strategic Accounts
Arrive Logistics

TRUE. Supply chains are more challenging and complex than ever. Retailers and their supply chain partners are balancing market uncertainty and labor shortages with higher consumer expectations. There is also pressure to meet ambitious ESG targets and to automate and digitize their networks. Collaboration is essential to navigating these dynamic challenges.

–Heather Stuart
Vice President of Retail Supply Chain Solutions

TRUE. While managing the supply chain has always been a complex issue, the evolving intersection of tech, extreme weather events, geopolitics, and cybersecurity has introduced new challenges. As these new dynamics are introduced, the supply chain struggles to adapt and effectively shift gears. Take the pandemic for instance, it exacerbated all the existing challenges. While these challenges help force the supply chain industry to innovate, it will take time for the industry to address its challenges.

–Brandon Black
SVP and General Manager
Ivanti Wavelink

TRUE. The combination of supplier disruptions, unpredictable demand, and volatile freight rates have never been greater. The good news is companies have found that experts with advanced technology and access to multimodal capacity can take those headaches away and help companies drive efficient and effective supply chain management.

–Dave Menzel
President and COO
Echo Global Logistics

TRUE. From a retail perspective, consumers now expect omni-channel shopping experiences, and retailers struggle to position inventory across their supply chains to meet online and offline demand. Fortunately, innovative AI technology can get the right inventory to the right place, at the right time, to satisfy customers—and maximize profit.

–Gurhan Kok
Founder & CEO
Invent Analytics

TRUE, especially when you can put your decisions into a financial domain. In retail, current inventory management systems require planners to start with a human input metric. With modern AI-based systems, you can optimize based on profitability to allocate inventory at the right time, every time.

–Tav Tepfer
Chief Revenue Officer
Invent Analytics

TRUE. In today’s globalized and complex landscape, companies navigate volatile commodity markets, inflation, and intricate supplier networks. Multi-tier visibility is often lacking with suppliers, and internal stakeholders demand increased value. Despite these challenges, this era offers unprecedented opportunities for supply chain professionals to significantly enhance their impact, especially through the use of emerging technologies. By harnessing technology, they can transform and elevate their roles to create value in ways previously unattainable.

–Omer Abdullah
The Smart Cube

TRUE. The combination of global operations, increased competition, evolving customer demands for faster time-to-market, and technology integrations make supply chain management complex. Successful operations require a strategic approach and leveraging futuristic technologies like quantum computing to manage fleets and processes effectively.

–Rohail S Qadri
President, Professional Services
Trigent Software

TRUE. The world has come to realize the criticality of supply chains and they have become more complex. The combination of constituent pressures, complex and lengthening networks, and regulatory oversight makes managing supply chains more complex than ever.

–Tom Nightingale
AFS Logistics

TRUE! It’s more difficult as you need to understand all modes of transportation and know how to use your own data to make solid business decisions.

–Melissa Somsen
Chief Commercial Officer
AFS Logistics

TRUE. Although supply chains are more complex with more nodes spanning multiple geographies, customer expectations amplified the focus on supply chain management. Same-day deliveries require inventory visibility and accurate counts, making supply chain management mission-critical. The key task today is delivering accurate, real-time decision-making with a reduced margin of error.

–Andre Luecht
Global Strategy Lead, Transportation, Logistics and Warehouse
Zebra Technologies

TRUE. Labor shortages continue to be a major hurdle. In warehousing and distribution, workforce gaps negatively impact everything from order speed to customer satisfaction to the quality of perishable products. Companies need to focus on diversifying the labor pool and attracting young jobseekers. Automation is a great place to start. Not only does it drive high-impact ROI and gains for your network, it also creates an exciting work environment that helps attract skilled young talent into your organization.

–Adam Gurga
Sales Manager

TRUE. Heightened geopolitical risks, economic pressures, and various market disruptions are hitting simultaneously, which is straining supply chains. Strengthen resilience by anticipating and addressing disruptions now. Get a clear view of all the risks lurking within your supply base—IT security, financial health, ESG, and more.

–Jim Wetekamp

FALSE. Supply chains have certainly become more global and complex—introducing volatility and complexity—in recent years. However, technological innovations over the past two decades (e.g., advancements in data analytics, real-time tracking, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence, to name a few) have made managing supply chains easier and much more efficient than ever before.

–Eric Allais
President & CEO
PathGuide Technologies

TRUE. Supply chain management has become increasingly complex. For example, the automotive supply chain lacks visibility and efficiency, leading to potential disruptions. But by leveraging technology like AI, centralizing suppliers and regularly evaluating logistics partnerships, managers can better prepare for unexpected challenges.

–Mike Trudeau
Executive Vice President of Business Development
Montway Auto Transport

TRUE. Post COVID, we are in uncharted territories, making it more critical than ever to have a setup that allows market volatility and adaptability. Globalization, increased competition, evolving customer expectations, sustainability, disruptions, and regulatory changes contribute to the heightened complexity. Businesses must navigate these challenges to ensure efficient and resilient supply chain management in today’s dynamic environment.

–Mauricio Lozano
Director, Marketing & Business Development
SeaCube Containers