Gartner 2017 Keynote – Aspire, Challenge and Transform in a Disruptive World

Gartner’s Debra Hoffman, VP and Distinguished Analyst, and Mike Burkett VP and Distinguished Analyst, took to the stage in Phoenix this week to kick off Gartner’s annual supply chain pilgrimage to the desert to an audience of 1,900 supply chain leaders. The keynote address sets the stage for Gartner’s agenda for the coming year. We’ve heard about the digital disruption, the importance of the bimodal supply chain and role of algorithmic planning. This year focused on the transition today’s supply chains find themselves in towards a self-aware, self-acting, artificial intelligence led ecosystem.

Sounds a bit daunting; however, as Debra and Mike outline there is a process to help smooth the transition and keep your organization in front of this shift. Be bold and don’t let others put your supply chain at risk.

The world would not be what it is today without the supply chain, managing some $16.2 trillion in goods globally. As the world evolves, the supply chain evolves. Gartner outlined this move in three key areas. Envision. Challenge. Architect. Here, I am going to share a little bit about each of these areas.

Gartner 2017 KeynoteEnvision. Expand your vision of what the supply chain is. The new competitive differentiator is knowing what the customer wants before they do and then delivering that when and where they want it. To make this happen, the supply chain of the future is moving towards an interconnected ecosystem; interdependent business networks offering innovation and productivity benefits to members through electronic interchange. While this is not necessarily new, the rise of the digital connections combined with digital products enables these ecosystems to more easily propagate.

Underlying and fueling all of this proliferation are digital technologies including blockchain, artificial intelligence, cognitive, internet of things (IoT), cloud, mobile, social, algorithms, smart machines, and 3D printing.

Highlighted throughout this discussion is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is approaching a stage that will disrupt supply chains as we know it. AI is expanding faster than humans can keep pace and make decisions faster than we can comprehend. This will transform your supply chain into a self-aware, self-adapting organism.

But, we are not there yet. We are in the middle of the transition. As our world gets more connected, business must adapt.


Challenge the status quo. Just because a process has worked for the past decade or so doesn’t mean it will continue to work or that you were as optimized as you could have been. At its simplest, you can think of the constant reliance on spreadsheets as a process and technology that is the status quo that should be eliminated. Debra and Mike highlighted three areas that should be challenged.

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