Key Insights and Takeaways from the Gartner 2023 Supply Chain Symposium from a Former Gartner Analyst

It’s been just over a week since I attended the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium. Looking back on the conference I wanted to share some thoughts, reflections, and some key takeaways from the three-day agenda at the world’s most important gathering of CSCO’s and Supply Chain executives.

This year’s symposium was titled Harness Complexity, Power Your Supply Chain. The conference was based on the premise that the world has changed economically, socially, and politically. I don’t think anyone would disagree. Gartner also points out that our ability to navigate through constant disruptions while managing risk and maximizing rewards has elevated the importance of supply chains. While three years ago, when I was still at Gartner, I often had to explain what I did for work and what supply chains are, these days everyone is aware of the supply chain and its importance to everyday life.

Getting Started

The first day of the conference, Sunday, started off well preparing the project44 booth for the next three days of expo adventures. This was going to be my fifteenth (!) Gartner SC event (including US and Europe events) and my first Gartner in-person conference since Barcelona in 2019. Sunday evening is the traditional analyst reception for sponsors, and it was great seeing many of my old Gartner research colleagues and catching up with the Gartner event sales executives I supported when I was chair of the event.

The Collective Potential

On Monday I enjoyed Gartner’s opening keynote by Caroline Chumakov, a good representation of the new talent we’re all excited to see in modern supply chains. She brought a fresh perspective to the Gartner stage and highlighted some topics that hadn’t previously risen to keynote level. I admired her honesty around an issue faced by many organizations – low worker productivity. According to Caroline this is mainly due to the lack of what she called the collective potential. This collective potential consists of different elements:

Individual potential.

Companies are not well positioned to tap into people’s individual skills and therefore many of those skills go unused. Companies that provide radical flexibility have seen up to a 40% increase in productivity.

Individualized work and human centric leaders.

According to Gartner, fewer than 30% of leaders in the supply chain are effective human leaders. To become human centric leaders they need authenticity, empathy and adaptivity.

Technological potential to work at the speed of business.

Despite heavy investment in technology, 67% of companies report that digital is underperforming, while at the same time, digital transformation remains the number one priority for many of these same businesses. This is great news to be sure, especially since we believe this type of transformation helps companies to become more agile and resilient. But without the proper change management, any digital transformation effort is sure to fail.

Community potential.

Companies have seen major challenges around talent retention and attraction especially as we face the lowest unemployment rate in almost 60 years in the US. Organizations need to create a culture of shared purpose, common interests, sense of belonging and collective goals if they want to be well positioned to hire and retain top talent.

Back in the Expo Hall

In the meantime, we experienced record attendance at the project44 booth. It was evident that supply chain visibility and the data it provides continues to be a top area of investment for supply chain professionals. We also had the honor of meeting and presenting with many of our partners including Google to share the value our partnership provides joint customers.

Google project44 Gartner

Teaming up: project44 and Georgia Pacific

Monday afternoon saw the first project44 presentation where Georgia Pacific presented their visibility journey and how visibility provides value to the entire organization. We are thrilled to call them a customer and to help them on their visibility journey.

Lessons from Coach K

Tuesday kicked off with a keynote by Coach Mike Krzyzewski better known as coach K. For the readers who don’t know Coach K, he is the former head coach of the Duke University basketball team. During his tenure from 1980 to 2022, he brought the Blue Devils to five national titles. He also served as coach for the United States national team, which he led to three gold medals at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.

His presentation, Victory Through Teamwork, can be applied to modern supply chains. Many of his quotes related back directly to the comments made a day earlier during the Gartner Keynote.

“In order to be a team you have to have common ground through shared values and principles. You need…communication, trust, care, collective responsibility, pride. Teams and leaders need agility, adaptability, accountability…and attitude. Value-based organizations stand the test of time.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Smart Geofences Take Center Stage

On Tuesday afternoon two of my project44 colleagues presented our new feature, Smart Geofences, standing room only. Smart Geofences improve TL location tracking for shippers and LSPs that move truckload shipments by reconfiguring how a geofence is determined. Smart Geofences are generated by drawing a smaller geofence around historical pings from visits that are clustered near a location address. This results in a geofence that is based on real truck visits, which reduces near-misses and drive-bys.

Smart Geofences

You can learn more about Smart Geofences by getting in touch with our team here.

See you in Spain!

Wednesday was another packed expo day after which we started our journey back home carrying along with us some new information, new connections, new outlooks and for some, a few new pieces of swag. Now is the time to capitalize on the many great lessons we took home with us, while also preparing for the next Gartner event next month.

Join us in Barcelona for Supply Chain Symposium Europe with a featured presentation from yours truly alongside Bridgestone, June 6 at 11 AM. Register here.

Join Bart and project44 at Gartner Supply Chain Symposium Europe