Bricks Matter

To establish the foundation of supply chain evolution, it was important to hear the voice of the first generation of supply chain pioneers.

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It started as a casual discussion with Charles Chase over lunch in Las Vegas, Nevada. Charles is a published author. He had written a first book on Demand-Driven Forecasting, and for some reason (that escapes me now), I wanted to write a book. Two publishers already turned me down as they thought that that the topic of “supply chain” was too boring to drive readership. I was asking Charles for advice. We left lunch agreeing to write a book together, and the rest is history.

The title of the book comes from the understanding of three elements of supply chain management: the best use of physical assets, the evolution of the global supply chain team into BRIC countries and the harnessing of the evolution of supply chain management processes.

Supply chain management is now three decades old and still evolving. While the term “supply chain” was used in logistics and warfare for decades prior, 2012 is the 30th Anniversary of the use of the term supply chain management in commercial manufacturing. To establish the foundation of supply chain evolution, it was important to hear the voice of the first generation of supply chain pioneers. 75 of these professionals are interviewed in the book, sharing their stories of success and lessons learned.

The book is a synopsis of how three decades of supply chain processes have changed greatly. Technology has been a major driver. Connectivity, business analytics and ecommerce increased the pace of fulfillment and the customers’ expectations. Social technologies are increasing the speed of the metronome. The evolution of global markets impacted business complexity. The greatest moves forward for supply chain management came not from success, but from failure. Material event after material event created a boardroom understanding of why Bricks Matter.

The book also gives insights to supply chain teams on the evolution of processes for 2020. They have to have the right balance between flexibility and strength, they have to be balanced in their approach between go-to-market strategies and fulfillment activities, and they have to have a clear understanding of supply chain strategy. This requires a multi-year road map and a cross-functional understanding.

The adoption of new technologies is part of winning the race for Supply Chain 2020. The road before us will be quite different than the road that got us here. The world of Big Data, the Internet of Things, new forms of Predictive Analytics and the evolution of Digital Manufacturing all show great promise.

Behind every shipment, there is an order, which is satisfied by a manufacturing and logistics process. The customer’s expectation is that the order will be perfect. Getting it right requires the alignment of the organization from the customer’s customer to the supplier’s supplier. It is different in each industry and the required capabilities vary by the size of the company.

The supply chain team makes it happen. The supply chain organization is the unsung hero that finally gets a voice in the book Bricks Matter.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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