Inside Supply Management Magazine

What's On Your Mind?

August 05, 2014

Executives have shifted their focus — and their worries — from the economy to the challenges that data, technology and the supply chain present to their companies. While a survey of nearly 500 C-suite and senior executives reveal that digital strategies are a top priority, it also finds they consider the supply chain their number-one challenge.

In the Global Top of Mind Survey, 38 percent of executives in consumer goods and retail companies cite supply chain management as their main challenge. Supply chain practitioners may be on their CEOs’ radar, but the good news is executives also report that the supply chain is most likely to receive increased investments this year.

The survey, conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum and KPMG International, finds that 42 percent of the executives place supply management at the top of the list for increased investment over the next 12 months. Other areas for investment include international expansion (32 percent), data analytics (28 percent) and digital strategy (28 percent).

What’s the main target area for supply chain improvement? About 45 percent of the top executives say they want to improve the speed and agility of the company’s supply chains.

On the data and analytical front, 54 percent say a top-of-mind concern is developing a digital strategy for mobile/digital platforms, while 56 percent cite data analytics as important to their firm’s strategy, making it the highest-raking strategic area in the survey.

Data analytics may be a top corporate strategy goal, but leaders shouldn’t lose focus on the need for improved data security, says Willy Kruh, global chair, consumer markets for KPMG International.

“The challenge that should really be keeping companies awake at night is data security,” he says. “Companies are still a long way from where they need to be in terms of protecting their client and proprietary information from security breaches. Hackers will always be one step ahead, and companies need to ensure they are not overconfident in their ability to protect themselves.”

The survey also indicates the importance of corporate social responsibility. Forty-four percent of executives cite traceability and transparency around end-to-end value chains as a top goal of their company. That’s just ahead of reducing waste and emissions (42 percent) and sustainable sourcing (41 percent).

Nearly 52 percent report they have a “strong or good capability” to meet the firm’s sustainability agenda. The main drivers behind sustainability include reputation and brand (41 percent), consumer demand (34 percent) and competition (28 percent).