Gartner Identifies Chief Supply Chain Officer Priorities
October 12, 2020
the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the structural and organizational weaknesses
of many organizations chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) should address three
important CEO concerns.
“When we conducted the annual Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey
in the fourth quarter of 2019, many CEOs anticipated an economic downturn for
2020, and that was without the knowledge that a global pandemic was on the way,”
said Thomas O’Connor, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain
Practice. “Those CEOs were already planning for reduced hiring, an emphasis on
cost optimization, but also an increase in digitization efforts. And this is
exactly what happened, though for a very different reason.”
In addition to the usual actions during an economic downturn, the coronavirus
pandemic has also prompted CEOs to question their current business and operating
models – including the supply chain. There are three main concerns that CSCOs
need to be aware of.
Concern No. 1: The Challenges of a Changing Global Ecosystem
With increased uncertainty around tariffs and trade regulations, CEO’s were
already planning to redevelop their supply chains due to the impact of new
international tariffs and trade controls. And now, given the pandemic, 21% of
supply chain leaders believe their supply chain is highly resilient (according
to a Gartner survey of 260 supply chain leaders in February 2020), with 55%
expecting to be highly resilient within 2-3 years. CSCOs should prepare to
present their plans to the C-Suite.
“Resiliency can always be improved, but there’s trade-offs. More resiliency
often means a supply chain organization that is less lean, less agile and holds
more inventory,” Mr. O’Connor added. “CSCOs must explain that a supply chain
needs to be resilient, but also work economically. Balance is key.”
Concern No. 2: Digital Drivers
2020 being a cash-sensitive year, 39% of manufacturing businesses indicated that
they had increased their technology investment beyond pre-COVID budgeted levels.
CSCOs must make sure that any investment they are proposing aligns with their
CEO’s critical priorities – growth, financial stability, cost management and
“CSCOs must make clear that today’s digital progress secures the options of
tomorrow,” Mr. O’Connor said. “For example, supply chain organizations with the
right digital capabilities can act as the central nervous system of the business
that senses risks and opportunities and enables real-time action.”
Concern No. 3: Structural Shifts in the Workforce
Despite the majority of organizations implementing a hiring freeze during the
pandemic, most CEOs recognize that the structure of their workforce needs to
change. While this concerns all parts of the business, it’s the responsibility
of the CSCOs to make sure that their organization design is appropriate for an
increasingly digitalized world, while properly upskilling supply chain staff and
ensuring new talent is motivated by the prospect of a robust career path.
“Training employees according to a clearly defined vision is critical to gain
buy-in from leadership and staff alike. CSCOs can perform a gap analysis to
understand where the organization lacks key skills and develop a strategy for
either hiring those skills or upskill the existing work population,” Mr.