The Coming Supply Chain Renaissance
A year and a half ago, seventeen people jumped to their deaths from the roofs of the factories where Apple’s hottest products are made. There was some outrage in the press, but the general feeling, aside from grief, was powerlessness; and in some cases, an urge to justify our indifference.
It’s an eighteenth death that made the difference. Steve Jobs – Apple’s founder, cultural icon, and go-to subject for reporters discussing the world’s largest company – was replaced by Tim Cook, formerly head of the company’s awe-inspiring supply chain. Quite simply, it’s the most brilliantly effective one ever devised, and it’s the flint on Apple’s competitive edge.
When Cook assumed the most powerful and visible role in the corporate world, the media took note. It’s no coincidence that coverage of supply chain topics has steadily increased since Cook’s appointment, or that he had to face a veritable public relations blizzard after a particularly damning piece appeared in the paper of record. It’s hard to believe Apple would have been subjected to similar scrutiny under Jobs’ continued leadership.
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Media trends work in a cascade effect, and it’s often the case that one big story can cause wide-ranging downstream effects. Apple is a cultural leader: the richest, most admired, most closely followed company on the planet. If the scrutiny yields change, it could have a ripple effect across industry that would contribute mightily to the causes of human rights and environmental protection – worldwide.
Apple makes its iPads in China. As a society, we’re long past the point of debating the merits or demerits of outsourcing. It’s here to stay. But how it’s done can be changed, and by the same actors who initiated the practice – big business.
The foundation of Apple’s business is its logistics – that’s why Cook got Jobs’ job. The fact is, in the 21st century, big business looks quite a lot like big logistics. Supply chain is the key to the whole enterprise.
Supply chain managers have known for some time that manufacturing works best when waste is minimized, when staff are equitably treated, and when all operations are sustainable to the global community. For logistics officers, externalities are simply variables that have yet to be internalized.
With labor violations pushing people off buildings and pollution contributing to natural disasters that can stop a heavyweight corporation in its tracks, environmental sustainability sounds a lot like mitigating risk. Those with the skills to manage a modernized supply chain are becoming the most prized talent of the business world – and the secret friends of good citizens everywhere.
It’s a new day, as it always is, and a new renaissance is coming in the way human beings get what they need and keep it safe. The fact is, to beat climate change, build a house for China and India, and get everybody back to work, we don’t need Da Vinci. We need to foresee. And that’s what supply chain managers do best.
Accenture Acquires SCM Software Firm Blue Horseshoe
Accenture has announced its acquisition of Blue Horseshoe, a US-based supply chain management software provider and consultancy firm.
Upon completion, Blue Horseshoe’s 349 professionals will join Accenture’s Supply Chain & Operations group, expanding the professional services group’s capabilities to create more interconnected and resilient supply chains for clients.
“To be competitive, companies need to transform their supply chains to deliver the innovative and hyper-personalised products, services and experiences that are in high demand—and fulfilment is core to that transformation,” said Renato Scaff, Accenture’s Supply Chain & Operations North America lead. “Blue Horseshoe’s deep fulfilment consulting experience and methodologies support Accenture’s vision for building customer-centric, resilient and responsible supply chains that benefit people, society and the planet.”
Who are Blue Horseshoe?
- Founded: 2001
- CEO: Chris Cason
- Employees: 349
- Offices: 4 in USA, 1 in Amsterdam, 1 in Estonia
- Key customers: Lids, Pabst Brewing Co., Half Price Books, Britax, Major Brands
Founded in 2001 in Indiana, USA, Blue Horseshoe now operates from six offices across the US and Europe. The company provides cloud-based solutions for supply chain management, ERP, warehouse management and transportation management systems, including its own Supply Chain Cloud platform, as well as Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management as a Microsoft Inner Circle Partner.
Blue Horseshoe specialises in fulfilment and distribution solutions, with expertise in the food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and retail distribution industries. Over the past 20 years, the company has improved around 700 supply chains, including those of leading companies such as fashion retailer Lids, cosmetics company Regis Corporation, Pabst Brewing Co., and family-owned bookstore chain Half Price Books.
“For two decades, we’ve worked with clients to build connectedness, efficiency and automation across their enterprise and supply chain operations,” said Chris Cason, CEO, Blue Horseshoe. “As part of Accenture, we will bring increased scale and combined expertise to help clients put in place next generation supply chain and fulfillment strategies that meet customer expectations and support business growth.”
Accenture's acquisition of Blue Horseshoe is subject to customary closing conditions.