End-to-end supply chain visibility is recognized as the foundation supply chain teams need to address critical business challenges, such as increasing supply chain complexity and rising supply chain management costs. It’s a prerequisite for making both the supply chain and the business more agile, resilient and competitive. Consequently, with end-to-end visibility, supply chain teams are better prepared to mitigate risks, identify and understand the impact of disruptive events, and respond quickly.


One would expect then that gaining full supply chain visibility is a key strategic priority for many companies. Indeed, among respondents taking part in the GEODIS 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide survey, gaining full supply chain visibility has grown from the sixth most important priority in 2015 to the third key strategic priority in 2017. Surprisingly though, only six percent of the respondents indicated their company has achieved full supply chain visibility.


Another key finding is that 70 percent of the survey’s respondents say their supply chain is either “very” or “extremely” complex. What’s more, 57 percent of the respondents say they consider their company’s supply chain to be customer-focused, and is a competitive advantage that enables the development of their company. Respondents from two-thirds of the firms also said the company spends five percent to 15 percent of turnover on supply chain initiatives.


The comments documented in this study are based on the responses of 623 supply chain professionals across 17 countries, with roles in supply chain, finance, operations, marketing, strategy, and information technology and management levels. All the respondents have a direct link with supply chain operations and issues on a regular basis.


I was also interested to read that, when asked about the top objectives demanded from supply chains, the primary goal cited by respondents remains ensuring on-time, in-full delivery. This was followed by improving product availability or delivery, improving end-to-end supply chain visibility, optimizing inventory costs and reducing transport and warehousing costs.


Asked about the “next big thing” in supply chain technologies, data analysis was ranked first by 41 percent of respondents. This was followed by Internet of Things, and connected devices and cloud computing, which were both cited by 39 percent of the respondents. Information security, predictive analysis, apps and addictive manufacturing—such as 3D printing—rounded out the responses.


The flip side of the coin, however, is that only slightly more than half (53 percent) of the respondents said they are engaged in advanced innovative practices within their supply chain. Furthermore, even practices such as process mapping or lean management are far from being universal, being implemented by 60 percent and 55 percent of respondents respectively.


“These moderate results could be explained by the fear of implementing uncertain practices, particularly while the current growing necessity of ensuring a reliable supply chain exists,” the authors explain. “However, first-in-class companies are agile and ready to invest to implement optimization of their supply chain.”


What are your thoughts on full supply chain visibility? Is gaining such visibility a strategic initiative where you work?