- Gartner's 2017 Supply Chan Top 15 for Europe ranking elevated Unilever, Inditex and H&M to the top, respectively. Three new entrants also made the list: No. 13 Adidas, No. 14 Roche and No. 15 Siemens.
- Those within the European top 15 demonstrated growth of 6.8%, more than doubling the average among the global top 25.
- The three main trends consistent across the most successful European supply chains were digital experimentation, speed to adaptability and a focus on sustainability.
Gartner's European supply chain ranking cited five consistent traits among the new appointees.
Top supply chains have a few features that contribute both to excellent supply chains and a company's growth and profits. Gartner says top supply chains all have: global scale and local responsiveness; multiple models through segmentation; interest in collaboration; investments in talent and technology; a culture of excellence, and a mastery of change.
For example, Unilever's supply chain has undergone particularly rigorous restructuring. In 2000, the company began a new initiative called "The Path to Growth Strategy." Focus areas included People and Technology, among others. The company sought to develop collaborative rather than combative interactions with partners, and also worked to install early adoption internet access, demonstrating its willingness to accept and invest in new technology. These actions clearly align with those cited as earmarks of supply chain management success by Gartner, as the company embraced change and technology through collaboration.
Yet, it's not just in Europe where these principles are seen as formulas for success. In a recent opinion piece, Johnson & Johnson's Worldwide VP and Chief Supply Chain Officer Kathryn Wengel wrote, "every company wants to be an innovator, and during my time at Johnson & Johnson, I’ve found innovation begins with a company’s people and culture."
However, sometimes the best change comes not from within the company, but outside the four walls. "No matter how innovative of a company you are, you often need to embark on culture change and look to the outside to maintain a competitive edge," Wengel wrote.