Supply chain innovation captures the interest of many practitioners but most find it elusive and often even difficult to understand. This project has produced a number of publications addressing some of the challenges that exist for practitioners interested in creating supply chain innovation in their business.
Download a copy of SCI articles and white papers:
"Perseverance Pays in the Innovation Game" - Supply Chain Management Review, May-June 2014
What is Supply Chain Innovation?
Through the research to date, we have come to define supply chain innovation (SCI) as the combining and application of a mix of inventions, existing processes, and technologies in a new way that achieves a desirable change in cost, quality, financial flows and/or service. Key distinctions to note: there is no distinction on time to achieve, there is no distinction on impact (i.e. sustaining or disruptive), and there is no distinction on what is 'new.'
In pursuing SCI, firms should recognize that supply chain innovation (or process innovation) is distinct from product innovation. Technical invention does not necessarily constitute innovation.
- Entails a change in method and/or process, often but not always enabled by technology,
- Results in a positive and relatively meaningful change in performance, but rarely is it rapidly ‘disruptive,’
- Can accrue through deliberate small improvements and developments that together make more significant impact, and
- Comes in the latter stages of development where the application creates some tangible cost or service improvements.
Lingering questions about SCI remain:
- how can the firm pursue SCI?
- how should the firm organize and staff to pursue SCI?
- what are the necessary skills to develop SCIs and implement SCIs in the firm?
- is there a distinct calculus required for making SCI investments?
- how should firms consider and utilize emerging technologies?
- how should firms work with upstream and downstream partners to create SCIs in the extended supply chain?
How to participate
If you have interest in working to address these and related questions, please contact Jim Rice directly at email@example.com or by phone at 617.258.8584.
Key members of the team
Deputy Director, MIT CTL