On 27th-28th April 2022 I had the opportunity to attend Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE, an event hosted by BizClick Media Group. I attended the 2-day conference online, watching the live broadcast from Tobacco Dock in London. The theme for this year was Risk & Resilience, and within this, the event focused on the themes of Scope 3 management, supply chain sustainability and mitigating the rapidly rising cost of natural resources.
The event was a great way for supply chain and procurement professionals to collaborate and the range of speeches and panels covered some interesting topics. Here are some key themes that I picked up on throughout the event which are important to the world of supply chain today:
Since this was within the title of this year’s conference, resilience was a theme that popped up frequently, and rightly so, due to its importance in the unstable world of today. Now, supply chains are probably more resilient than they’ve ever been, and changes that have been made to make this happen may appear in many businesses’ long-term business models. But how can companies achieve a resilient supply chain? Brish Bhan Vaidya, Head of Sourcing- APAC for Uber said that if companies “keep investing in people and technology”, this will boost resilience. He also mentioned other methods to bring resilience to supply chains, including reworking your supply mix, simplifying supply chains and the use of automation. I liked a quote from Tom Woodham, PwC who said “resilience is worth investing in”, which is certainly true.
The other main theme of the event was risk, including how to mitigate it and how to plan for it. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially in the current turbulent times. Within the panel titled ‘Supply Chain Risk and Resilience’, the speakers discussed the importance of contingency plans, having a risk aware culture and digital resilience. Geraint John, from Interos Inc and Daniel Weise, Managing Director and Partner for Boston Consulting Group used the phrase “it is no good chasing black swans” in terms of risk mitigation, as companies should be looking at risks in a general sense, so all bases are covered, despite the disruption that may occur.
In another risk-themed panel discussion titled ‘Risk Mitigation in the Supply Chain’, the theme of visibility was discussed as a vital part of risk mitigation. Tom Woodham from PwC encouraged companies to “make sure visibility is there to understand the risks.” Andrea Ricciarelli from SAP used the Suez Canal disruption as an example, saying having no visibility is the worst-case scenario with such an event.
Automation is a widely discussed topic in procurement and supply chain today. David Lawson, CPO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in the UK mentioned how the pandemic “highlighted the fragility of supply chains” and how automation helped his team overcome some hurdles that were presented to them. For example, the Trust has 6 surgical robots which can perform surgery on patients, and this reduces pressure on the limited supply of surgeons. Automation was particularly helpful in this case when high numbers of COVID-19 infections were present in hospitals.
In his speech, David Lawson also used a great example of collaboration called “mutual aid”, where hospitals in London collaborated to supply each other with PPE and other medical supplies. This was vital, as without this collaboration, some hospitals would have run out of resources. In terms of sustainability, Sheri Hinish from IBM said that “everyone has to collaborate to scale at pace” to achieve environmental goals.
The use of data
Data was a key topic throughout the 2-day event. In terms of data in risk mitigation, Tom Woodham from PwC said that “people, processes and data come above anything else” and technology is not the “silver bullet” in this case. Also in this panel, Richard Jowers from SAP encouraged companies to “lead with data” but to also “make sure that your data is clean and in order” so it can be used effectively. The theme of data sharing was discussed in the Digital Procurement Panel, and Deepti Malhotra, Director for Green Apple Consulting Services said that “data sharing is in procurement’s best interests” to support decisions, and that data sharing is also necessary for transformation.
“Supply Chain Queen” Sheri Hinish from IBM held a speech named ‘Breaking down barriers to environmental sustainability’, where she discussed how there is a general “lack of steering” when it comes to sustainability and how this hinders progress. She talked about the link between digitalization and sustainability and how it makes sustainability visible, actionable and operational. Visibility is also a key topic here, as Sheri said, “if you can’t visualize things, how do you know where to go?”. She also provided an action guide for sustainability, which included factors such as making sustainability an enterprise-wide concern and embracing personal responsibility. She believes that sustainability can be a massive driver of growth within companies and the use of open innovation can also improve environmental efforts.
The wide range of speakers and discussions present at the event allowed for an insightful view into how companies should approach risk and resilience. Although supply chains have suffered massively from recent disruptions, this has been an opportunity to build resilience and incorporate new elements into risk management models. Factors such as sustainability, data and collaboration can help build resilience and mitigate risks for the future.
The All Things Supply Chain Blog is a Media Partner for Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE