Top 10 high-tech supply chains
In this month’s Top 10, we run down the world’s most high-tech supply chains, as ranked by Gartner’s annual list.
10 | Qualcomm
Giving an overview of Qualcomm, the Gartner report says the following: “Holding its position in the ninth spot for another year is Qualcomm, a leading developer of advanced wireless technologies, products and services. Leveraging its fabless chip design business strategy, Qualcomm's three-year weighted 11.8% ROA rivals the performance of Apple's renowned supply chain. As part of its M&A strategy, Qualcomm's intent to acquire NXP — a leader in automotive and security markets — evidences its focus on growing its scale and competitiveness. Once complete, this deal not only allows Qualcomm to meet customer's demands for integrated products, but also provides the opportunity to join NXP's investments in integrated device manufacturing with Qualcomm's network of external manufacturing partners — thereby strengthening its sourcing influence and negotiations.”
9 | Seagate
Of Seagate, Gartner said: “Seagate slipped in the high-tech ranking on the tail of an 8% decline in three-year weighted-average revenue growth, driven largely by sustained weakness in the PC market and a shift toward higher-capacity/lower-unit volume drives. In response, the storage leader is leveraging its best practices in supply chain management to continually improve operational performance. Historically, Seagate's supply chain has successfully leveraged cross-functional tiger teams to drive operational and innovative excellence in areas such as design for cost, quality and end-to-end planning. It continues to employ those same tried-and-true practices to simultaneously improve effectiveness and remove redundancy in its tools and processes as well as mitigate risk in its supply chain.”
8 | Huawei
The Chinese multinational moved up a place from its 2016 spot, with Gartner saying: “Maintaining strategic focus on digital breakthroughs provided the networking and telecommunications titan strong revenue growth and impressive ROA from its smart vertically integrated factories.”
The company was praised for its increasing emphasis on sustainability as part of its supply chain management, with Gartner noting that the company is refining its solutions by developing its competencies for designing more energy-efficient products, implementing its circular economy strategy to minimize the environmental impact of its smartphones and, working in close collaboration with suppliers, reduce carbon emission and conflict minerals across its global supply chain.
7 | Samsung
The consumer electronics giant fell from third to seventh in the rankings, due in no small part to the myriad issues it faced with its Note products, which caused it to temporarily stop production and sales. The report noted: “Through its efforts in enhancing product assurance processes, implementing preventive measures to avoid manufacturing escapes and mitigate sourcing risk, it's clear Samsung's primary focus on repairing its reputation and restoring consumer trust is working.” It will be hoping its upcoming Galaxy 10 range will boost its standing in the 2018 report.
6 | Lenovo
Having acquired IBM's PC and x86 server division and the Motorola Mobility division of Google, Lenovo comes in for praise from the Gartner report for embarking on “a journey to revamp its supply chain – making an essential shift from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Using structured and unstructured data to obtain customer insights coupled with investments in visibility and risk management tools, Lenovo has extended its goal for perfect order fulfilment into a full demand-driven transformation.”
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5 | HPI
On November 1, 2015, after 76 years of innovation, the printing and personal systems divisions became a standalone business as HP Inc., with servers, storage, networking and services forming Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPI). Such has been the seamless transition to what is now HP Inc., it is testament to the multifaceted and hugely complex work carried out by a company-wide cross-functional team that the business, and therefore customers, have suffered no disruption. In fact, the company’s global market position has actually strengthened over the course of the past year.
4 | Nokia
“Nokia has changed,” exclaims the Gartner report. “Now a better disciplined company with a more robust portfolio and opportunities for expansion, Nokia is no longer satisfied with just running a successful supply chain focused on execution and cost management. At the same time, it is elevating the organisation's entrepreneurship in scaling supply chain innovation.” It is quite the endorsement. Last month, Nokia announced that it had securing €500n in funding from the European Investment Bank to support its research and development of 5G technology, with the loan backed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments
3 | Intel
As one of the world’s largest suppliers of computer chips, Intel relies on its innovative supply chain. The company is praised in the Gartner report for aligning its supply chain with increasingly important customer expectations, such as predicting demand and inventory positioning. Of Intel, the Canadian association, Supply Chain Insights, says: “When it comes to supply chain excellence, Intel is a well-known leader. The company has aggressively driven supply chain improvements despite being four to five levels back in the supply chain. Known for their innovations in analytics and talent development, the Intel team has focused on building dynamic capabilities.”
2 | Cisco
The multinational technology conglomerate’s supply chain comes in for high praise, with Cisco demonstrating “many of attributes of a company at the pinnacle of what Gartner's defines as Stage Five supply chain maturity”. They include: orchestration of ecosystems of partners driven by joint creation and capture of value; relentless pursuit of innovative technologies to support network-based analytics and integrated, fact-based decision making; and a strategy that incorporates the voice of the customer and risk management for the right balance of profitability and sustainability.
1 | Apple
Heading the list is technology giant Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California. Gartner’s report recognises Apple as a ‘Master’ in this category, placing it comfortably ahead of its competition. It continues: “Apple arguably maintains one of the best managed supply chains in the industry — delivering 16% ROA and 60.4 Inventory Turns in 2017.”
Apple has huge negotiating power when it comes to its supply chain, and is adept at finding the balance between quality and cost, while implementing strict conditions that its suppliers must adhere to.