CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 22, 2018
Forward Thinking

Unilever tops Gartner's Supply Chain Top 25 list for second year in a row

The analyst group has also added Amazon to its "masters" category, which recognizes sustained supply chain leadership over the last 10 years.
Article Figure
The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2017

[Figure 1] The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2017
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For the second year in a row, consumer goods company Unilever received the number one spot on Gartner's annual Supply Chain Top 25 list, followed by McDonald's, Inditex SA, Cisco Systems Inc., and H&M. The analyst group's full list can be seen in Figure 1.

Additionally this year, Gartner added online retailer Inc. to its "masters category," recognizing the company's sustained supply chain leadership over the last 10 years.

"Hardly a day goes by without another announcement of Amazon's foray into a new market, ownership of its logistics capabilities, or filing of patents to improve customer experience," said Stan Aronow, research vice president at Gartner.

The masters category also includes Apple Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.

The Supply Chain Top 25 rankings are based on two main components: business performance and opinion. Publicly available financial and corporate social responsibility data are used to calculate the business performance score. This data provides a view into how companies have performed in the past. The opinion component is based on feedback from both Gartner analysts and a panel of peers. It is meant to assess future potential and reflect the company's leadership role in the overall supply chain community. These two components are combined into a total composite score.

This year's Top 25 supply chains managed to achieve success in spite of operating in a particularly challenging global economy, according to Aronow.

"Today's supply chain leaders face a much different business environment than just 12 months ago," said Aronow. "A general trend toward protectionism, as evidenced by Brexit and the policies of the current U.S. administration, has caused some companies to shift supply network-design decisions and create contingency plans in anticipation of new trade policies."

According to Gartner, this year's top 25 supply chains shared the following key characteristics:

  • Digitalization. Leading companies are creating increasingly more digital connections within and across their supply chain operations. To create these connections, they are using solutions that combine Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, cloud computing, and advanced analytics. According to Gartner, leading companies view digitalization as a way not only to provide agile support for existing products, but also to reduce time to market for new ones.
  • Adaptive organizations and capabilities. Leading companies also show an ability to be more adaptive to changes in their value chains. "Some of the more impressive supply chain organizations have created a modular supply chain service model that allows for variants of functional capabilities to be combined into 'plug-and-play' segments, such as make-to-stock, configure-to-order, or engineer-to-order manufacturing profiles," said Aronow. "This approach allows them to more quickly and flexibly support different business needs and outcomes, and speeds up activities such as merger and acquisition integration."

  • Healthy ecosystems. Leading companies realize that supply chain success depends on the health and well-being of the critical ecosystems within and around them, says Gartner. The analyst group believes that leading supply chains focus as much on ethical sourcing and supporting customer well-being, as they do on talent acquisition and development. Environmental sustainability is another priority for top supply chain organizations. In general, these companies are further along than their peers in developing mature corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices and tend to link these efforts back to their underlying corporate strategies.

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