Supply Chain Innovation Summit 2018 places spotlight on digital leadership

  • Date

    Thu 5 Jul 18


As the world undergoes massive changes in global trading environments, so must the way we do business.

At least, this is the opinion of the Institute of Directors, and IoD Essex brought their 2018 Supply Chain Innovation Summit to The University of Essex to explore digital and technological advancements and inspire current and new business.

Leading in the Digital World: The Supply Chain Innovation Summit 2018

The Executive Education team, part of Essex Business School, partnered with Wivenhoe House Hotel to host the IoD Essex’s 2018 Supply Chain Innovation Summit.

Local, national and international business leaders from Uniserve, Medicare, Sainsburys, and RSM joined industry professionals from the IoD, the EEF (The Manufacturer’s Organisation), the Supply Chain Academy and academics from Essex Business School in discussing practical solutions to address the opportunities presented by an increasingly digital world.

The business view

The half day conference began with Alex Mortimer, Commercial Director of The Supply Chain Academy and IoD Essex Ambassador, welcoming and introducing Christine Bhatt, COE of Systematics International and IoD Essex Chair who immediately threw out to the room the question of "what could business look like in the next 10 years?"

Immediate discussion broke out amongst delegates who were encouraged to share their experiences and their own projections and predictions of the lay of the land of global and local business in 2028.

The academic view

From here, Professor Maria Fasli, Director of the Institute for Analytics and Data Science at the University of Essex, rose to the challenge laid down by Christine Bhatt by challenging the delegates on the changing digital landscape that business leaders now must face and be a part of.

It was then the turn of Professor Carl Perrin, Director of the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at Coventry University, to take to the podium to present on how technology is transforming manufacturing companies before handing over to the Business Panel.

Tazeeb Rajwani, Head of Executive Education and Professor of International Business and Strategy at Essex Business School, then took to the podium to present to the delegation on The Impact of Changing Industry Dynamics on the Development of your Strategy. 

Exploring Google Duplex as a case study of a company taking AI to the next level, AI that will change the way we actually do things and how there is a big shift in how we are noticing organisations using robot technology in the everyday functions of its business or products.

Tazeeb discussed the evolution of business strategy: “There are new systems of strategy. Traditionally it was top down, but now we’re seeing more bottom up approaches. Business models are being reinvented with increasing regularity.” Thus paving the way for a standoff: hierarchy vs collective wisdom. 

"Roles and responsibilities are changing in emerging markets. What we notice is that companies are in to focusing on quick decisions. Time management is so important. You have to fight to be in a meeting room but the idea is about experimentation. Fail fast, go again.”

The panel view

Leading in the Digital World: The Supply Chain Innovation Summit 2018 came to a head when a panel of four discussed with delegates strategic examples from industry.

The panel included: Charlotte Horobin, Regional Director (Midlands and East), The EEF; Tazeeb Raijwani, Head of Executive Education at Essex Business School; Christine Bhatt, CEO, Systematics International; and, Ashley Macleod, Supply Chain Manager at the Ardagh Group.

So, what did we learn?

As Helen Arran, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Wortley Buyers and Leading in the Digital World: Supply Chain Innovation Summit 2018 delegate, states in her excellent blog article summarising the event: "We need to learn more, understand more and evolve to keep up." 

"This means studying, choosing champions within businesses, identifying and overcoming blockers and continuously adapting, exploring and thinking of the future. The initial fear that we all feel about things like Big Data and AI is natural - we can choose to learn more and therefore reduce the fear of the unknown. We can invest in our employees by sending them to courses, engaging clients and developing technology partnerships."

We learnt that the nature of business is evolving, regardless of those processes, systems or landscapes that do not.