It’s hard to single out just one move by Apple over the last 15 years that has helped build the company into both a technology giant and one of the most valuable companies in the world. Steve Jobs built an impressive team and was a visionary genius in terms of both product development and corporate management. One could argue, though, that a large portion of Apple’s success was possible thanks to Tim Cook and his focus on improving Apple’s operations and supply chain.
Prior to being Apple’s COO (and now CEO), Cook spent time at companies such as IBM and Compaq leading worldwide operations and fulfillment. As Apple has improved from an afterthought to a thought-leader in the consumer technology industry, it’s become increasingly important for Apple to meet the enormous demand for its products. Cook has developed and cultivated Apple’s logistics and procurement practices so that it can meet increasing demand and offer high-quality products that can be procured at low costs and delivered quickly to consumers.
Cook’s rise to the top coproate position as a supply chain graduate is uncommon, but something that more technology companies should think about. I spoke with another supply chain expert this morning, and he agreed that boards need more supply chain executives to help improve the bottom line. He expressed his personal shock that many consultants offer simple advice such as improving procurement - but of more “tactical” purchases such as office supplies or of maintenance work. A stronger focus on more "strategic" procurement, such as for raw production materials, has the potential to impact the bottom line in a much more dramatic way. Supply chain experts can not only bring this knowledge and focus to the top of a company’s priority docket, but also bring experience with software applications such as spend management, procurement, and warehouse management software (link) to enact these changes.