Innovation In the Supply Chain

I’ve been reading “The Innovator’s DNA,” an interesting book about how companies can set themselves up to be better through what they call ‘disruptive innovation.’ I don’t think this is an entirely new concept because there have certainly been plenty of innovations created my many companies, and those companies have thrived and grown. What’s different in this book is that it provides specific traits and actions that companies can take to find and develop people who can make a difference.

In the supply chain there is plenty of room for innovation even if they come along very infrequently. Probably the biggest innovation was EDI itself. Not the formal X12 spec, but the notion that there could be a standardized format for communicating information about orders and products. It could be argued that the VAN was the next big innovation, but to me the VAN was simply born out of the necessity to send EDI data between trading partners. The next and most recent innovation (though it wasn’t exclusively about the supply chain) was SaaS/Cloud based services. The idea of moving the complexities of managing EDI processes outside the walls of the company and into a shared environment where multiple companies could share the reduced costs is a stellar example of innovation.