Inflation Innovation Stagnation
Achieving demand-driven enterprise status would have been impossible without the innovative technology-driven processes brought to bear on how we source, ship, and fulfill product, all while meeting evolving customer needs and demands.
What many have overlooked during the purposeful economic deacceleration we are experiencing is the choking off of innovation investment and the resultant long-term damage to future economic growth.
In the past 25 years, a rush of innovation has empowered business transformation, especially in supply chain operations. Achieving demand-driven enterprise status would have been impossible without the innovative technology-driven processes brought to bear on how we source, ship, and fulfill product, all while meeting evolving customer needs and demands. Meeting customer needs efficiently and expeditiously has amped up the quality of life for millions in the United States and around the world.
But the man-caused economic downdraft and global statecraft failures have destroyed supply chain efficiency to the point where many leading practitioners are abandoning lean processes. HP, for example, is “going on offense,” says Ernest Nicolas, the company’s new chief supply chain officer.
“Even before the pandemic, there were some challenging macroeconomic conditions that were already telling us it’s time to change … to pivot away from what has been historically the lean supply chain … and companies want to get back to the way things were,” he says.
Who can question his approach, given HP’s recent massive losses due to supply chain disruptions? But must we now toss away innovative ideas fundamental to lean approaches like Kanban, Kaizen, and Six Sigma? How many millions have companies saved by adopting lean operations? How have lean operations enhanced sustainability? Must we toss what works and has worked for decades?
No matter. Roll it back! Invest in innovation? Can’t do it. Cash is tight. We have to go back to the way things were.
Election-driven monetary machinations may salve, but not solve, some problems in the short term. Creating and curating an economic climate that starves innovation investment is a much larger issue and will deliver significant long-term pain. What new unfunded innovations will never see the light of day?
Thankfully there are a few bright spots. One is the innovation initiatives at the Savannah Logistics Innovation Center, a public-private partnership co-led by Georgia Southern University and innovation incubator Plug and Play, and supported and promoted by supply chain leaders such as Syfan Logistics. The Center, along with sponsors and Plug and Play, support 11 startups in the logistics space working on innovations ranging from “triangulation” to match import containers with exporter needs, to enhanced visibility to manage in-transit shipments, to an immersive forklift training solution, among others.
We need many more innovative initiatives like these to overcome innovation stagnation.