The CIO’s Role in Maintaining a Strong Supply Chain

As the pandemic proved, a strong source chain is critical for fast and extended-expression business overall health. CIOs are beautifully positioned to play an critical part right here.

Credit: Quality Stock Arts via Adobe Stock

Credit rating: High-quality Stock Arts by way of Adobe Stock

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on source chains around the globe. Now, as enterprises keep on restoring functions to pre-pandemic concentrations, business leaders have began evaluating the hurt and arranging for the potential. Being familiar with the ever more critical function know-how now performs in source chain structure and operation, lots of executives are turning to CIOs for advice and leadership.

With the present-day world shortages, organizations’ source chains have taken centre stage, observed Leon Roberge, CIO at Toshiba The usa Business Solutions and Toshiba World-wide Commerce Solutions. “That’s why it can be so critical for me and my workforce to evolve and make improvements to programs and processes,” he mentioned.

In each superior and negative moments, world source chains want to be agile and resilient, mentioned Sridhar Tayur, a professor of functions administration at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper College of Business. “It would be hard to contend if [source chains] usually are not adequately automated and info pushed, and not digitally linked outside of the confines of a one enterprise,” he noted.

Function Taking part in

A CIO should really be a significant enabler and co-chair in transforming the source chain. “From assisting to discover possible know-how partners for innovative technologies to guaranteeing the present-day know-how base runs efficiently and successfully, a CIO can not only enable develop a strong source chain but enable transform the source chain function,” mentioned Scott Furlong, a lover with know-how study and advisory firm ISG. “In today’s world, enmeshed in hyper aggressive world opposition, know-how is the basis for an effective source chain,” he noted.

Scott Furlong, ISG

Scott Furlong, ISG

Furlong believes that a CIO’s source chain function lies in supporting effectiveness and reducing complexity in sourcing, paying for, logistics, deal administration, and invoice and payment processing. “The CIO need to be the leader who establishes and maintains the know-how and processes that empower effective sourcing, quick paying for versus negotiated contracts, the timing and precision of products shipping and delivery, the effective upkeep of provider contracts, and invoicing versus contracts with correct pricing and terms,” he said.

A CIO need to also deal with the community of third-occasion alliances needed to support in source chain transformation. “CIOs need to comprehend the sector, the gamers, and the items and make use of hugely competent or trained interior and third-occasion assets,” Furlong mentioned. “The breadth of third-occasion alliance interactions is significant for the successful transformation of source chain functions,” he noted.


Access to up-to-the-minute information and facts is critical for a CIO who hopes to retain a strong source chain. “Genuine-time info makes certain that your source workforce has the correct information and facts expected to make superior, responsible conclusions,” Roberge mentioned. “My advice is to automate as lots of info factors as possible — the fewer spreadsheets the greater.”

Leon Roberge, Toshiba

Leon Roberge, Toshiba

Present day source chains tackle large-quantity transfers of items, information and facts, and currency across geographies, languages, and cultures. Digitization has the power to flatten these barriers, lessen costs, and supply visibility to transactions, mentioned Deepak Kaul, CIO at Zebra Technologies, a company of marking, monitoring, and laptop or computer printing items. “The pre-requisite to modernizing know-how is stable incumbent programs,” he observed. “If you have unstable operational programs, you are going to probably be putting out fires most of your time and have no time to think about potential initiatives.”

Present day source chain are unable to be managed efficiently or successfully without the need of ample foundational instruments, Furlong cautioned. “Suitable technologies, applied in a timely fashion, can enable an group transform the source chain and leapfrog the opposition,” he spelled out. “This incorporates every little thing from innovative predictive analytics to … reducing-edge technologies this sort of as blockchain, which is remaining utilized to observe shipments at a micro amount.”

CIOs also want to frequently assess and change growing old source chain software program, hardware, and community instruments with contemporary programs leveraging each interior assets and third-occasion alliances. “Business prerequisites are transforming swiftly, and source chain know-how … need to be adaptable enough to tackle intricate business processes but also simplify source chain processes,” Furlong mentioned.

Over and above digital transformation jobs this sort of as cloud/edge computing, CIOs should really be investigating and investing in “new enterprise” technologies, this sort of as serverless blockchain, which open up the door to multi-enterprise visibility and co-ordination in an operationally efficient and price tag-effective fashion, Tayur noted.

Sridhar Tayur, Carnegie Mellon University

Sridhar Tayur, Carnegie Mellon University

Staying Coordinated

An effective source chain demands exact human-method coordination. CIOs want to evolve and adapt to business and know-how tendencies though assembly frequently with each IT workers and interior business leaders. “These individuals increase substantial value and are a remarkable asset to the CIO,” Roberge mentioned. It truly is also critical to continuously continue to be up to day on present-day tendencies, technologies and most effective IT procedures, he additional.

CIOs need to also be equipped to articulate their eyesight of rising source chain tendencies and tutorial enterprise leaders in a path that claims most effectiveness and payback. “The CIO need to be seen as a considered leader with the trustworthiness to deal with established solutions, instruments, architectures, and accelerators with deep shipping and delivery abilities to make source chain transformation a reality,” Furlong spelled out.

Ultimate Points

The biggest source chain error CIOs make is failing to listen, Roberge mentioned. “You need to often listen to interior and external resources on what is expected to successfully operate the source chain,” he recommended.

Deepak Kaul, Zebra Technologies

Deepak Kaul, Zebra Technologies

Kaul, in the meantime, urged CIOs to get ready for sudden functions, this sort of as method failures, normal disasters, and cyber incidents, all of which can paralyze source chains. “The COVID-19 pandemic was an unplanned party that expected CIOs to quickly supply support and business continuity,” he mentioned. Kaul encouraged CIOs to develop and exam emergency ideas built to retain their source chains working uninterrupted in the facial area of normal- and human-prompted disruptions.

What to Go through Following:

How Information-Pushed Investments Paid Off in Pandemic

Information is the Treatment for What is Ailing the Source Chain

CIO Agenda for Suitable Now: Priorities a Calendar year Into the Pandemic   


John Edwards is a veteran business know-how journalist. His get the job done has appeared in The New York Occasions, The Washington Write-up, and a lot of business and know-how publications, together with Computerworld, CFO Journal, IBM Information Administration Journal, RFID Journal, and Electronic … Check out Complete Bio

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