Last modified: August 17, 2015
With Asian markets becoming a stronger force in the global economy, increasing customer dominance in markets, faster rates of innovation, and products with increasingly complex design and manufacturing requirements, focusing on the supply chain as a priority will drive competitive advantage in high technology industries. Companies in high technology industries face an intriguing problem; the solution to gaining a competitive advantage lies within increasing their own supply chain practices to maximize return on investment. However, not all high technology industries have the resources to achieve such efficiency, especially when considering how one company may have a unique market share of a cloud services, and another company continues to operate minimal 3D printing services. Take a look at how focusing on the supply chain improves competitive advantage.
Designing a new product inherently requires skill throughout the supply chain. Businesses must relay information to supply chain partners, create the product, market the product, and fulfill customer orders. However, most businesses fail to recognize the importance of 3D printing in modern planning processes.
3D printing enables the rapid design and manufacture of prototype technological devices, which works to improve the efficiency of all parties in the supply chain. Currently, less than four percent of businesses actively use 3D printing capabilities and only 12 percent of business managers are pursuing the implementation of 3D printing for their companies. Those who begin taking advantage of 3D printing technologies sooner will experience a significant competitive advantage faster.
In proximity to design and innovation, virtualization becomes a secondary aspect of how the supply chain will improve competitive advantage. Virtualization refers to the theoretical workup of a product, or the process of manufacturing, shipping, and delivery of a product to businesses, consumers, and others within the supply chain. Focusing on these practices allows for a more transparent process and early identification of problems within the supply chain. Ultimately, this enhances the flow of merchandise from designer to manufacturer to distribution centers to businesses to consumers.
In recent years, the concept of reshoring has become prevalent among many US companies. Reshoring is the active movement of manufacturing processes from cheaper manufacturing locations back to the US. Furthermore, public perception of off-shore companies is further driving the movement to bring money and jobs back to America. Recently, ABC News announced the renewal of the “Made in America” segment, which will bring these companies into focus. Moving company manufacturing centers back to where its buyers are located will further enhance public perception and improve consumer confidence.
You must also consider how relocating supply chain processes will affect the relocation of the company. The existing supply chain must be able to rapidly expand and contract production and shipping of product to various areas to meet company demands, which will ultimately relate to a stronger, more positive consumer responsiveness reaction. However, this does not necessarily mean the company must pull all processes out of cheaper labor areas. Instead, it means the company needs to enhance supply chain practices to make inventory more readily accessible to consumers and businesses. The use of the cloud can effectively manage the supply chain practices and mitigate risk by enabling data access from any location as well. However, you must still take into account how another aspect of the supply chain needs to be a top priority.
Windows shocked the world with the release of the XBOX gaming console as it did not previously have hardware for playing its games. In modernity, more companies, including tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are rapidly moving to create the hardware for use with their own proprietary software. Furthermore, the movement in hardware creation brings up a second point. How will these devices be widely available and usable? In the high-tech industries, the concept of large systems appears to be obsolescent, and mobility has risen to become king of technology and consumer demand.
High-tech companies must actively search for ways to show consumers they are moving in the same direction, which will give them a competitive advantage. For example, Amazon released the Kindle, and a myriad of tech giants followed with similar devices. However, the most wide-recognized device manufacturer remains Amazon. Therefore, all of the trickle-down creations have been subject to Amazon’s competitive advantage.
Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, show what business processes are failing behind, moving forward, or barely staying with the expectations of the business. For example, are marketing strategies resulting in additional purchases in Market A, B, or C? However, KPI monitoring must be consistent and available in real-time, which will allow for greater inventory control and accuracy in product demand forecasts. Having real-time data gives businesses a competitive advantage to change processes and plans to meet changing consumer demands.
The global economy is in a state of flux, and companies are rapidly trying to meet the demands of their consumers. However, the role of the supply chain cannot be overstated in the success of businesses in the high technology industries. From design to data indicators, businesses must focus on the supply chain as a priority to gain a competitive advantage and ensure their livelihood.
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