Supply Chains & Logistics

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A Fresh Take on Supply Chain Innovation

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

For PepsiCo, entering the natural beverage markets of coconut water and smoothies meant developing new risk-management practices. In the coconut water business, “lead times are longer and supply is more variable than in PepsiCo’s traditional beverage supply chain,” write Tim Rowell of PepsiCo and James B. Rice Jr. of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The company has had to build enough inventory to minimize stock outs — without causing excessive losses through obsolescence.”

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Second Thoughts on Second Sourcing

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Multi-sourcing can lessen the risk of supply chain disruption. But it introduces new risks of its own. Companies should explore five questions before moving forward: Are all the sources in the same geographic area? What will it cost to develop a second supplier? How compatible is the alternative source? Are the additional CSR risks worth it? And will primary suppliers start holding back their new innovations?

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Integrating Sales and Operations to Create Higher Value for Customers

  • Research Highlight

Professor Theodore Stank, co-author of “Integrating Supply and Demand” from MIT SMR’s Summer 2015 issue, joined contributing editor Steven Paul to present his research on how some companies have bridged the perennial divide between demand generation and the supply chain in a way that maximizes the value to their customers and to themselves. Professor Stank described how to avoid having sales generation become disconnected from the operations required to fulfill that demand.

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Free Webinar: Integrating Sales and Operations

  • Blog

On May 12 at 1 pm ET, Professor Theodore Stank, co-author of “Integrating Supply and Demand” from MIT SMR’s Summer 2015 issue, joins contributing editor Steven Paul to present his research on how some companies have bridged the perennial divide between demand generation and the supply chain in a way that maximizes the value to their customers and to themselves. Professor Stank describes how to avoid having sales generation become disconnected from the operations required to fulfill that demand

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Remapping the Last Mile of the Urban Supply Chain

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

There are many reasons to believe we are on the crest of substantial progress with even the most challenging of last mile deliveries. Innovative models such as smart locker systems, the use of electric vehicles, and on-demand fleet services such as UberRUSH are being explored. The MIT Megacity Lab is helping identify customer-specific insights about how supply chains deliver products to urban customers and finds that autonomous delivery vehicles, while still years from wide-scale implementation, hold game-changing promise.

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Mass Customization and the Do-It-Yourself Supply Chain

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

With the help of third-party developers, customization is shifting from the producer to the customer. While Industrial Age customization did enhance options for different customer preferences, those options were hardwired into a firm’s supply chain in ways that preserved efficient scale. Customers could choose only from those options that a firm had already programmed to deliver through established supply chains. Digital Age customization allows customers options outside the boundaries of a firm’s traditional supply chain.

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Is It Time to Build Your Own Platform?

If you really want to create value, forget about burning platforms and start building them. A platform, explain professors Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Choudary, founder and CEO of Platform Thinking Labs, in Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, is a “business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem.”

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Tech Savvy: February 26, 2016

Peter Drucker defined the work of business leaders by three principal tasks: delivering financial results, making work and workers productive, and managing a company’s social impacts. Technological advances have transformed — and continue to transform — the world in myriad ways since Drucker published that definition in 1974. But technology hasn’t changed Drucker’s tasks. Instead, it is giving rise to new and better ways of executing them. This new column aims to help you identify big ideas and new tactics at the intersection of technology and management.

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What’s Your Strategy for Supply Chain Disclosure?

How much information should a company disclose about its supply chain? In addition to having to be lean, agile, and sustainable, today’s supply chains are increasingly the focus of growing attention from a variety of external stakeholders. These stakeholders often want information beyond what the company is legally obliged to disclose. But many companies have limited visibility of their supply chain information and have not fully considered their disclosure strategy.

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How Well Does Your Company Integrate Demand and Supply?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

An online questionnaire by the authors of the MIT Sloan Management Review article “Integrating Supply and Demand” helps users assess how well their company’s supply chains are helping meet product demand — and serve key customers. The self-assessment lets users rate their companies in five areas in the demand and supply integration spectrum: relevant value focus, integrated knowledge sharing, strategic resource allocation, integrated behavior, and capacity and demand balance.

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Flourishing in the Face of Supply Chain Disruption

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 1 min 

In a webinar, Joseph Fiksel and Keely Croxton of The Ohio State University explain how proactive managers create innovative, dynamic organizations that can prosper under any circumstances. “We define resilience as the capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change and uncertainty,” Fiskel said. Their research-based methodology identifies important supply chain vulnerabilities and sets priorities for strengthening capabilities.

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Webinar: Flourishing in the Face of Supply Chain Disruption

  • Blog

The webinar speakers explain how proactive managers create innovative, dynamic organizations that survive and prosper under any circumstances. They show how resilient enterprises adapt successfully to turbulence and design resilient assets, products and processes, highlighting companies that have improved shareholder value in turbulent times. And, they demonstrate a research-based methodology to identify important supply chain vulnerabilities and set priorities for strengthening capabilities.

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Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection

In an adaption from his new book The Power of Resilience, MIT’s Yossi Sheffi explains how companies are learning to more quickly detect unanticipated problems that can interfere with their global operations. Sheffi looks at how leading companies are using an array of detection and response techniques, from sensors to supply chain control towers. These tools are helping companies become more resilient to disruptions such as hurricanes, the discovery of product contamination, and political events.

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Sharing Supply Chain Data in the Digital Era

Effectively managing and coordinating supply chains will increasingly require new approaches to data transparency and collaboration. Supply chains in coming years will become even more “networked” than they are today — with significant portions of strategic assets and core capabilities externally sourced and coordinated. Already, progressive companies are developing novel solutions to the dilemma of data transparency by using data “cleanrooms” and digital marketplaces.

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The Power of Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 1 min 

In an August 2015 webinar, MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, a renowned expert on supply chains, risk management, and resilience, shared insights and examples from his latest research and forthcoming new book, The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected. He offered insights on understanding and analyzing the types of risks companies face, as well as preparing for and coping with disruptions effectively.

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Telling Data’s Story With Graphics

At the alcohol beverage company Constellation Brands, graphic presentations of data are making it easier for sales people to see how they’re performing. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Joseph D. Bruhin, the company’s CIO, says that measuring marketing and sales efforts is a particular challenge in the alcohol industry — but one that his team has come up with a solution to. “Visibility of data is a critical piece,” he says. “We came up with a solution that’s really driven predominantly by information technology.”

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Integrating Supply and Demand

To compete in different strategic segments at the same time, companies need close coordination between the sales side of the company and supply chain operations. Just as importantly, joining the supply and demand sides of an enterprise presents an opportunity for efficiency and value creation. “A company may have an excellent sales and marketing team and a top-flight operations team and still deliver the wrong benefits to a customer,” the authors note. This article includes an online questionnaire for assessing the current stage of your company’s demand and supply integration, with suggestions for how to improve.

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From Risk to Resilience: Learning to Deal With Disruption

In a volatile, global economy, supply chains have become increasingly vulnerable. Supply chain practices designed to keep costs low in a stable business environment can increase risk levels during disruptions. But companies can cultivate resilience to unexpected disruptions by understanding their vulnerabilities and developing specific capabilities to compensate for them. The authors identify and detail 16 capabilities companies can use to respond to particular vulnerability patterns.

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