This post begins a new series exploring the ins and outs of innovating supply chain for the global mobility industry.
From advocating for a company-wide adoption of innovation as a strategic goal, to working with supply partners on joint ventures, we’ll look at how changing lifestyle trends, emerging technology, and the evolving workplace (STA/LTAs, remote/mobile workers, internships) are providing the nimble relocation management company (RMC) many opportunities to gain a competitive edge.
In this first post I’ll lay the groundwork by asking two questions:
- How do we define innovation?
- And what should be its primary goals?
According to the results of the 2018 Kenco Supply Chain Innovation Survey,
"Supply chain leaders have made it clear that innovation cannot be boiled down to technologies that are grabbing headlines. Instead…innovation today is synonymous with process improvements."
The report goes on to state that while, “Supply chain leaders are not sure if emerging tech will innovate their current processes… there is an appetite to pilot and experiment – especially in areas where the application is evident.”
Innovation on these terms is the judicious adoption of organisational methodologies or technological improvements that overlay existing infrastructure, primarily bringing cost savings in the form of efficiency.
Though this is a savvy approach to an uncertain future, and a reasonable recognition that ROI can quickly evaporate when implementing enterprise-scale change, I’m inclined to believe that the drastically new dynamics that will govern manufacturing, transportation, the labor force and consumer trends in the coming decade require the responsible RMC to prepare for broader systemic change.
Limiting innovation to process improvement runs the risk of neglecting a regular reexamination of the end goal of the process.
Before being able to formulate a wider reaching definition of innovation therefore, we need to be clear on what those end goals are. That will be the subject of my next post, stay tuned.
For more on innovation in global mobility, try Empathy in Innovation.
As emerging technology trends and buzzwords like robotics, AR/VR and, increasingly, blockchain continue to dominate the industry headlines, supply chain leaders maintain a measured approach in their investments around adopting new technologies. The 2018 Kenco Innovation survey re-cast questions from its 2017 Innovation Survey and the results remained strikingly similar, indicating that change rates remain slow. However, a few interesting trends emerged that show signs of an industry shift in the coming years.