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Expertly Navigate the Modern Supply Chain Landscape

26th August 2015 | Mark Millar

Turloch Mooney assesses the modern supply chain landscape, drawing interesting insights from Mark Millar’s new book ‘Global Supply Chain Ecosystems’

Expertly Navigate the Modern Supply Chain Landscape

Mark Millar is one of the most high profile personalities on the supply chain speaking circuit. His much-anticipated book, Global Supply Chain Ecosystems, was released by Kogan Page earlier this year and has collected plaudits for its insights into the modern supply chain landscape and practical advice on how to navigate it.

Millar looks at the sources of complexity in modern supply chains, with multiple organizations, functions and interdependencies, and at the outset rejects the outdated ‘chain’ image in favour of the book’s central image: the supply chain ecosystem. “The linear concept of the chain is no longer adequate,” he says. “It cannot describe the complex international networks of suppliers, stakeholders, partners, regulators and customers that are involved in ensuring the efficient and effective movement of products, services, information and funds.”

Global Supply Chain Ecosystems illuminates the different layers of the structure and operations of the modern supply chain so that senior executives and new professionals alike can better grasp the areas on which to focus in order to add value in their work. The modern supply chain is positioned as an aspect of business with growing strategic importance: a business enabler, a revenue driver, and, ultimately, a key source of competitive differentiation.

As arguably the main requirement for agility and responsiveness (the supply chain characteristics that perhaps more than any other enable differentiation) supply chain visibility and how to achieve it is an early focus. The role of technology is examined, from transport management software to big data systems, together with integration of systems and processes. “Business are often dealing with data sets so large and complex they become difficult to process using traditional database management tools or data processing applications. It’s possible to be drowning in data yet starved of real, usable, actionable information,” says Millar.

The certainty of risk and how to build the resilience necessary to manage it is also a key focus of the book, as well as dealing with talent shortages and other HR strategies. Millar notes that finding and retaining talent remains a “constant challenge,” particularly in emerging markets.

The strongest parts of the book are perhaps those covering growth opportunities. Millar is an experienced supply chain practitioner on a global level but his deep knowledge and experience of emerging markets shows in his treatment of ‘growth’ themes, from the mammoth opportunities offered by the explosion of e-commerce in China to the promise and potential pitfalls of Africa, seen by many as the next great development frontier.

My favourite was the section on the New Silk Road. In it he examines possibilities as a result of development of land transport corridors and logistics hubs to capture and expand on the bi-directional China-Europe trade, already worth more than US$1bn.

Global Supply Chain Ecosystems breaks new ground in terms of our understanding of modern supply chains and as such is an important publication. It is comprehensive in its coverage of the key issues and particularly strong on emerging markets. It provides both theoretical and practical advice on the management of these issues and belongs on the shelves of all serious supply chain practitioners.

Turloch Mooney is an experienced Business Intelligence and Communications Professional and Subject Matter Expert in Supply Chain, Air Cargo and Global Trade, whose international career includes senior executive roles at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Supply Chain Asia Publications and Informa (Lloyd's Publications).

Global Supply Chain Ecosystems is out now. Buy your copy now with discount code LBGSCE815 and get 20% off

Logistics, Operations & Supply Chain Management

Kogan Page publishes groundbreaking books on logistics and transport, operations, supply chain management, and procurement. Our authors are leading thinkers in the field, sharing their insights from academia and industry. Follow us on Twitter @KPLogistics.

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