Must-Read Takeaways from the 2023 European Gartner Supply Chain Symposium

It’s been just a few days since I, along with many of my project44 colleagues, attended the Gartner Supply Chain Europe Symposium in Barcelona. Looking back on the conference I wanted to share some thoughts, reflections and some key takeaways from three days at the European version of the world’s most important gathering of CSCOs and Supply Chain executives. (You can read my thoughts from the American conference here).

This year’s symposium was titledHarness Complexity, Power Your Supply Chain. The conference was built around 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, while I was still an analyst at Gartner, I often had to explain what I did for work and what Supply Chains are, nowadays everyone is aware of the Supply Chain and its importance in our daily lives.

Pre-Event Networking

Sunday started off well with a visit to the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell ahead of the conference. The complexity of the basilica and the time it took to build it due to many disruptions draw a lot of parallels with the Supply Chain.

Sunday evening, we officially kicked off the conference with a great project44 dinner at the Barcelona port, Port Vell. At this event, which was co-hosted by Google, we welcomed over 120 attendees from all over Europe and the US to network, mix, and mingle and enjoy some good food and drink and live Flamenco music and dancing. It was great to meet our Google partner Louisa Loran in person and hear her vision of the Google/project44 partnership.

Day One

The next morning the European Gartner conference kicked off. It was my fifth Gartner EU conference and my first time back in Barcelona since 2019.

Gartner’s opening keynote by Thomas Pocock was a reprise of the keynote in Orlando and shared a great message. The keynote focused on the topic of talent in Supply Chains and the issue many companies face around low productivity. This dip in productivity, according to Thomas, is due mainly to the lack of use of what he called “the Collective potential,” a message mirrored by Caroline Chumakov at her Orlando keynote. This collective potential consists of different elements. First is the individual potential. Companies are not well positioned to tap into peoples’ individual skills and hence many of those skills go unused. Companies that provide radical flexibility have seen up to a 40% increase in productivity. Next comes the push to individualize work, but we also need more human-centric leaders. According to Gartner, less than 30% of leaders in the Supply Chain are effective human leaders. To become human centric leaders they need authenticity, empathy and adaptivity.

Next comes technological potential which allows employees to work at the speed of business. Although many companies invest in digital technologies, 67% of companies report that digital is underperforming. Yet, digital transformation remains the number one priority. That is great news, as project44 believes that real-time data is the basis for digital transformation as data feeds insights that help companies to become more agile and resilient.

And finally, the community potential. Companies have seen major challenges around talent retention and attraction especially as we face the lowest unemployment rate in almost 60 years. Organizations need to create a culture of shared purpose, common interests, a sense of belonging and collective goals if they want to be well positioned to attract and retain top talent. Thomas further highlighted the power of ecosystems, another core capability project44 provides in its mission to be the connective tissue of the Supply Chain.

Monday was also a great day at the project44 booth with many prospects, customers, partners and even competitors stopping by. We were also so thrilled to be located on the Xpo floor near many of our partners including Blue Yonder, 09 Solutions, SAP, Google, SAS and Kinaxis.

Day Two

Supply chain visibility and the data it provides continues to be an extremely top of mind subject, as evidenced by a standing-room only crowd for project44’s session with Jerome Boulet of Bridgestone. Jerome talked about Bridgestone’s vision and strategy for digital transformation and the importance of visibility. Attendees clearly enjoyed the customer perspective on real-time visibility and the strategic importance it plays to the company.

Wrapping Up

Some other highlights from the event during the three days included the focus on more traditional capabilities and process themes rather than disruptive technologies. Companies are looking for solutions that can bring agility and resilience and provide fast time-to-value. To quote my friend, ex-Gartner colleague and current partner at Everstream Analytics Koray Kose, “A lot of chatter about cost, inflation, operational and tactical efficiencies feel back to the basics.”

We can’t wait for the next Gartner Supply Chain event next year in May in Orlando and again in June in Barcelona. We hope to see you there!