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Apple, Dell, And P&G Head AMR's Supply Chain Top 25 List

AMR Research released its list of the top 25 supply chains in the manufacturing and retail sectors and said a distinguishing characteristic of all 25 is that they place an intensely customer-centric focus on everything from operations to innovation.

AMR Research released its list of the top 25 supply chains in the manufacturing and retail sectors and said a distinguishing characteristic of all 25 is that they place an intensely customer-centric focus on everything from operations to innovation.Describing that customer-centric focus as a demand-driven model, AMR said its Supply Chain Top 25 were all able to anticipate the current global economic downturn earlier than their competitors because their heightened attention to customer behavior and buying patterns gave them direct and real-time evidence that purchases were slowing dramatically.

This allowed those companies to "secure their cash positions well enough to maintain momentum on vital initiatives," AMR chief strategy officer Kevin O'Marah said in statement. "2010-2011 will show how such foresight pays dividends with greater supply chain agility and the ability to tackle competitors and deliver huge earnings in the climb out."

For CIOs, these findings underscore the necessity to channel more and more attention and energy away from internal operations and toward the points of contact with customers via sales, marketing, and customer-engagement initiatives.

The top 10 companies on the list are Apple, Dell, P&G, IBM, Cisco, Nokia, Wal-Mart, Samsung Electronics, PepsiCo, and Toyota. AMR said it limits eligibility to companies in the manufacturing and retail industries.

AMR said those companies, plus the other 15 on the list, are at a competitive advantage because the demand-driven models they use are "inherently circular and self-renewing, unlike the push supply chains of our factory-centric industrial past" - meaning that they're deeply integrated, collaborative, and transparent. Here's how AMR breaks down the demand-driven model:

This model has three overlapping areas of responsibility:
  • Supply management: Manufacturing, logistics, and sourcing
  • Demand management: Marketing, sales, and service
  • Product management: R&D, engineering, and product development Excellence is a matter of visibility, communication, and reliable processes that link all three of these functional areas together. When these processes work together, the business can respond quickly and efficiently to opportunities arising from market or customer demand. Defining characteristics of supply chains built to this design include the ability to manage demand rather than just respond to it, a networked rather than linear approach to global supply, and the ability to embed innovation in operations rather than keep it isolated in the laboratory.
  • While the list of the top 25 supply chains is interesting, I found even greater value in two areas of discussion about the list: first, AMR's commentary about the various companies on the Top 25; and second, AMR's explanation of the weighted factors it uses - and why it uses them - to compile the 25. It's a thought-provoking bit of work and definitely well worth a read for anyone involved in planning, deploying, and managing IT-enabled supply chains in this complex global economy.

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