Supply Chain Digitization through a human lens

By: Wim Willems, Business Unit Manager Supply Chain

Since a few years, digitization is all around us and is a main topic in discussions about the future supply chain.  For every existing or rising problem, a technological solution is available. Those technological solutions have a huge impact throughout the entire E2E Supply Chain. On the other side, the ‘technology first’ approach has led to ignoring an inconvenient truth which is the human nature of the Supply Chain.

Highly digitized supply chains rendering our redundant functions could be a scenario if we take a big leap forward in time. However, if we look at today’s Supply Chains, we are still struggling with problems such as lack of visibility, biased behavior, slow decision making, inability to find a proper balance in the Supply Chain Triangle…

Technology solutions solely, however, don’t solve problems. Instead, the solution for some of the Supply Chain challenges such as visibility, management infrastructure and cross functional collaboration are often simpler, cheaper and easier to implement if we look at these through a human lens; i.e.: people have a key role to make it work. Hence, it is crucial that we dovetail today’s digital solutions into today’s supply chains.  This is where people have a prominent critical role in a sense that they have the capabilities to expand and accelerate the impact of a company’s digital investment.


Visibility is on top of the requirements in Supply Chain, and it has been there for quite some time unfortunately.  Despite of the investments in top technology and despite consuming multi-million IT budgets, very few companies have a clear E2E view of their Supply Chain Operations. Improved visibility has become the main value proposition of today’s supply-chain software vendors.

Without spending a fortune on high-tech advanced optimization engines and solely relying on sophisticated algorithms, improved visibility can be achieved if we focus on following necessities:

  • The ability to connect and consolidate data from multiple sources
  • Clean and organized data that is the single reliable source of truth
  • The capability to visualize data in a digestible manner

Management infrastructure

Digitally-enabled supply chains don’t require new metrics or KPIs. Generally speaking, the metrics that matter are the same as always: service, inventory, and capital utilization.

The digitally enabled supply chains, however, do require a change of mindset. The way how supply chain companies use their metrics is more important. For instance, the metrics cannot be overruled or by-passed. When managed well, important digitized KPI benefits are

  • More agile, speeding up decision making
  • Helping to solve problems and leveraging the quality of decision making
  • Pro-active Supply Chain Management

Cross- functional collaboration

Due to multiple M&A’s the complexity within major pharmaceutical companies is enormous and it has become very challenging to understand who is doing what within different parts of business, which systems & tool are being used and who is coordinating these actions.

An organization works more efficiently if people from different functions and business departments work at the same cadence, use compatible processes and when decision making is based on the same set of accurate data.

Therefore, supply Chain transformation projects such as process standardization and simplification, centralization of planning activities, and single platform usage are needed to maintain and leverage efficiency and performance.


At Modis Life Sciences, we can help you to tackle these challenges. Our Data visualisation team has a proven track record in generating E2E Supply Chain visibility and our Industry Experts can maximize the potential benefit of new technologies. This allows our clients to make decisions based on the same set of accurate data.

– Wim Willems, Business Unit Manager Supply Chain


Source: The Human Side of digital supply chains (McKinsey)