As we gradually recover from the economic crisis, globalization of trade will continue to expand – fueled by the ever-changing dynamics of production locations, mixed with the vibrant economics of various different consumption markets – together with the continuing proliferation of multilateral trade agreements.
Global supply chains consequently will become more complex and progressively more dynamic, while also becoming increasingly volatile.
As such, rather than a linear chain, modern supply chains now resemble more of an ecosystem, one that involves multiple suppliers, manufacturers and service providers all working together for one client’s supply chain even while these participants may well be competing against each other for another client’s business. Indeed, while each company may have control over its own supply chain ecosystem, that same company will be a participant in another company’s supply chain ecosystem and likely will be a component of several other supply chain ecosystems.
Hence, the increasing need to foster the collaboration necessary to empower global supply chain ecosystems. However, collaboration – one of what I believe are 10 “mega-forces” reshaping global supply chains – remains elusive, something that almost everyone is talking about, but with few seeming to effectively deploy.
In looking to the future, collaboration represents both opportunities and challenges. To continue empowering global supply chain ecosystems, supply chain professionals will need to master the art and science of practical collaboration. Typically, this involves yet another balancing act: It includes the need to leverage business partners for economies of scale and combined competitive advantage while protecting organizational assets, including human capital, tribal knowledge and proprietary customer intelligence.