Summary and Info
As a person in the supply chain field, I was excited to read this book and see what types of innovations Heinrich and Betts would offer. Their historical look into the current state of many supply chains felt close to home. While I understand their approach and believe my company is taking steps toward creating their version of an adaptive business network, after reading this book I think my company still has a way to go.
One of Heinrich and Betts' main points was compared to Moore's Law - business is continuously and quickly ever-changing. For a company to continue to compete, it must keep up and be flexible with the continuous changes that come its way. This point ties into the amount of technology Heinrich and Betts suggest to be implemented if an adaptive business network is to succeed. Over the course of the four steps, a number of new or updated technologies are necessary. While Nicholas Carr's article "IT Doesn't Matter" argues that cutting edge technology is not necessary to maintain a competitive advantage, I think the adaptive business network would argue otherwise. Between supplier-customer portals, real-time tracking, reporting, and inventory systems, and multiple linkages between various parties, none of this would exist without a solid technology base. Wal-Mart is a good example of a company who uses advanced tracking, inventory, and reporting through their RFID system. Their efficient supply chain and the changes they have implemented have helped to regulate their inventory while maximizing profits.
The one main contention I had with Heinrich and Betts were the timelines they estimated for each step of the process. Step One is three weeks to six months, Step Two is a few weeks to four months, Step Three is a year, and Step Four is ongoing. While I can only speak from my experience and working for a large corporation, I felt that any significant changes, especially technology changes, take more time that their suggested estimates. I wondered how feasible these changes would be, especially since the authors suggest only doing one product at a time. For a company like mine, which encompasses hundreds of thousands of products, I did not know how I would convince my management that multiple technological changes are necessary to change the supply chain habits of one product at a time. Perhaps this step-by-step method would be more realistic for a smaller company with fewer products, but the cost of technology may be an issue for a smaller company.
Although their ideas might have seemed a bit idealistic, I believe their core belief of integrating all participants in the supply chain is true. In today's business world, customers want things faster and with increased accuracy. Implementing an adaptive business network would bring together all the members of the supply chain and through a collaborative effort all the involved parties will benefit from this change.