Supply Chain Group Searches for the Missing ‘Link’
What do BMW, Carter’s, DHL, Estee Lauder, Georgia Pacific, PepsiCo, Shopify, Starbucks and USPS have in common? Other than being some of the biggest names in the retail, consumer products and logistics arenas, they are among major companies that have signed onto a new effort to work together and with startups to accelerate supply chain innovations.
Known as “Link,” the consortium intends to improve “processes, technologies and infrastructure [that today] are mired in 20th century thinking,” organizers Innovation Endeavors and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) announced today. Or, as Harpinder Singh, a partner at Innovation Endeavors, told Fast Company, “Supply chains are very manual and they need to catch up.”
Link participants actually began meeting in 2019 in what its organizers call problem-solving “ecosystems.” These meetings “link” organizations that might not normally have any contact with one another. If anything, their mission has become even more important since the pandemic began. “Fixing the supply chain isn’t just practical — it’s survival,” Innovation Endeavors and SIP said.
“We believe that emerging technologies have the potential to change the equation,” the two firms explained. “If companies are brought together to collaborate around shared data and information, leverage predictive technology and deploy novel designs and infrastructure, they can create a supply chain that is both resilient and efficient while meeting the needs of rapid, online delivery.”
Link said it seeks to use the power of collaboration to find new ways to:
- Bridge silos between companies that currently inhibit supply chain efficiency and resiliency;
- Improve data collected on what, when and where consumers are purchasing to allow companies to better satisfy customer demand;
- Seamlessly link each phase of the supply chain process to minimize the impacts of disruptions; and
- Introduce small startups and their innovations to large corporations and other potential users and customers.
“We believe that improvements in technology and the relentless demands of the 21st century make it possible — and necessary — for forward-thinking supply chain operators and entrepreneurial technologists to work together and accelerate innovation in the space,” Link said.
Nabil Malouli, head of global e-commerce for DHL’s supply chain division, told Fast Company that Link not only is a tool to help companies think outside of the box, but outside of their own four walls, too. “How do you think outside of the box when it’s the same people, the same environment, the same processes and the same way of thinking in the same job?” Malouli said. “When we see a company that is really tackling something that we see is becoming a major trend, we look at that hard and then we start to engage.”
Engagement and collaboration are exactly what this effort seeks to nurture in the supply chain realm.