By Debbie Lentz
The revolving door of industry revolutions continues to turn. Today, we welcome the Digital Revolution and say farewell to those that have come before it.
It is without a doubt that the industry will continue to change and with the onset of globalisation, the consequences have heavily impacted the supply chain. Effective management of the supply chain has never been more crucial!
The business world opened its doors to globalisation in the 1980s as businesses began to embark on international trade. As technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, it has never been easier for businesses to extend their reach.
Global markets offer businesses more opportunities to source a wider range of products and materials at a lower cost and of higher quality.
If calculated correctly, businesses can be equipped with a competitive edge that can help them to thrive. However, with this level of expansion, the complexity of the supply chain increases – for example, a business may be operating in the United Kingdom, with its production and manufacturing taking place in China or Mexico and its customers located all over the world.
A business’s global expansion process could involve acquiring new businesses or simply just entering a new market through local websites.
The processes set out need to withstand the challenges a new market brings and not compromise current operations.
New environments present new challenges. Before embarking into new territory, you must have an understanding of the cultural differences, administration, geography, and economic distance. You must first identify your business objectives in order to weigh out the full extent of opportunity.
Debbie Lentz, President of Global Supply Chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group discusses the benefits of globalisation and the positive effects it has had on the workforce so far – and how this is only set to increase.
Communication and collaboration
Simple manufacturing assembly lines are now a thing of the past. Suppliers and manufacturers have had to adapt dramatically to meet the needs of global markets – managing multiple product lines which can be located in different countries across different time zones.
A business’s success in foreign markets relies heavily on strong communication. Historically companies typically managed interfaces to direct suppliers and customers internally but, in today’s networked economy, that is no longer a viable option.
Companies are now having to outsource and collaborate with external partners – and as a result, are having to integrate their processes and systems for a smooth execution.
This collaboration requires sophisticated management, control and communication, alongside this, businesses are also faced with language barriers to overcome.
“When building and maintaining clear communication across all of our networks, I’ve found the use of video calling and cloud storage to share documents to be extremely effective. By translating comms into six different languages we can ensure that we’re reaching and engaging with all of our employees in their preferred language. As a result of this, our multilingual workforce is able to break down language barriers, streamline communication and drive a motivated team.
It’s important businesses consider ways to easily transfer information across different networks, from country to country.
This will not only provide better transparency throughout your supply chain but will also unlock stronger channels for better flow of goods”
Streamlining a complex supply chain
Growing your supply channels opens up opportunity for errors. Without proper management and organisation, you can quickly lose track and spiral out of control. Supply chain management is one of the most important aspects to maintain for globalisation and having a strategic ecosystem is critical.
It’s important that full visibility of the supply chain is available at all times so that there are no gaps in service and any risks or issues that arise can be dealt with in real-time.
Achieving this will mean the adoption of processes which support full collaboration of transport, inventory and more – as well as maintaining compliance with regulations.
Embracing digital platforms
Globalisation and technology go hand in hand. – without technology, we just wouldn’t be able to reach new markets.
Through the use of digital platforms and tools, businesses can sell in global markets whilst keeping their virtual teams connected in real-time.
“Utilizing technology such as automation is effective to not only decrease operating costs but also drive productivity. Tools such as automatic storage, retrieval systems and packing machines are great to reduce steps and decrease complexity. By investing in distribution centres you can have the capability and capacity to underpin and develop on future growth plans.”
Establishing a diverse workforce
The onset of new markets increases connectivity, growth and improved integration within an organization, helping to drive a business’ bottom line, but it also has huge benefits on the workforce.
Recent research reveals that a diverse workplace makes 19% higher revenue. Working in global markets allows businesses to employ a more diverse team as it engages with a variety of different types of talent and encourages different perspectives to be introduced into the organization.
Having managed a decentralized team, Debbie shares her experience:
“Whether you’re managing a team across the globe or a small team in one country, it’s important that you acknowledge and are respectful of the vast variety of different religious beliefs and cultural customs of your workforce. People of different backgrounds, races, and nationalities approach work tasks and human interactions in different ways. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative leaders in their market.”
Despite current political turmoil threatening the term globalization as a whole, the increase in cross-border flow of goods, money, ideas, and employees has been focal factors for the past three decades.
Globalization presents businesses with the opportunity to streamline their processes and provide the ability to improve and create a nimble supply chain, as well as grow a diverse and powerful workforce.
Establishing a flexible supply chain will not only ensure a sustained merge into new markets but presents business with an opportunity to address any eCommerce trade changes in the future effectively.
Debbie Lentz, President of Global Supply Chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group. Debbie Lentz joined Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, as the President of Global Supply Chain in 2017. She is responsible for leading the further development of the Group’s supply chain capability to provide an innovative and sustainable market-leading service for customers and suppliers.