Supply chains a strategic key to business future, say corporate execs

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CHICAGO, Ill.- An increasing number of senior corporate leaders surveyed in Europe and the United States say they recognize the success of their businesses is tied very closely to the effective management of their supply chains, according to a new poll conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive Inc. for UPS.

Moreover, 80% of the executives surveyed say that China will be playing an important role in their company’s growth objectives within the next three years, even though few think their supply chains in China are effective right now.

When asked to rate the effectiveness of their supply chains around the world, 66% of the business leaders rated highly their infrastructures in North America and 47% did so for Western Europe. Only 16% were comfortable extending a high effectiveness rating to their supply chain in China.

Most of the executives say they are still trying to handle at least some of their supply chain challenges in-house, despite the fact nearly all admitted their companies are not completely prepared to cope with unexpected disruptions.

“Growth-oriented business leaders obviously get it,” said UPS Chairman and CEO Mike Eskew. “They understand what’s at stake. Most of them see China as being very important to their company’s growth. The need now is to do a better job of coordinating the flow of goods, information and funds.”

Of a large number of the executives surveyed, 37%, said their most important supply chain objective was to stimulate sales and increase market share. And by the same percentage, the respondents agreed that better collaboration with suppliers and partners was the single biggest challenge to the effective management of their company’s supply chain.

Many also admitted their companies are only “somewhat prepared” or “not very prepared” to handle a disruption like a terrorist attack or natural catastrophe, says the study.

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