The job of the Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO), also referred to as the Chief Operations Officer (COO), has changed dramatically in the past few decades. What was once considered a tactical-heavy position is now a C-suite level executive role focused on strategy, decision making, and innovation.
While some have proposed that technology could devalue or minimize the CSCO position, research and case studies are proving the opposite.
Between 2000 and 2012, there were 71 new CSCO positions created among S&P 1500 firms. Since then, more organizations—even small businesses and startups—have begun appointing chief operations officers to keep the back end of their business afloat.
We’re finding that technology is not minimizing but instead enforcing the need for a strong operations strategy. Want to know how? Read the blog post!
Up until the late 1990s, the chief supply chain officer was more of a basic logistics manager. The primary objective of the CSCO was to cut costs. It was similar to the vice president of the supply chain, which was more about the basic planning of the movement of goods from point A to point B. The CSCO would go out to fix problems in the field and manage logistical manufacturing.
Often, the goal was simply to make sure operations were running on a daily basis while looking for areas to minimize expenses.
In a nutshell, it was a reactive job that responded to issues as they arose.
The New Role of the CSCO
In the past two decades, though, the supply chain has gotten significantly more complex. Today’s logistical process is rarely ever that old school supply chain where goods move from raw materials to purchasing to production to the warehouse and finally off to distribution.
Now, it’s an intricate web of global relationships and partnerships that make internal and external operations tick. Today’s operations are more complex and global, requiring a higher level of strategy, innovation, and risk management.
The role of the chief supply chain officer has been forced to change in tandem with the changes in the supply chain. Rather than becoming obsolete, as some predicted, the CSCO position has expanded exponentially. It’s now considered one of the highest-level strategic roles within an organization. The CSCO has moved to the C-suite to make high-level decisions based on technological innovation, product initiatives, and customer retention. They’re the relationship builders who maintain all moving parts of the operations interconnected.
Today’s CSCO is:
A leader, who can see operations from a bird’s eye view alongside the individual details
An ally forging connections between organizations, vendors, business partners, and even competitors
Flexible and adaptable
Able to interpret and analyze data quickly
Able to make decisions swiftly
Keeps pace with the rapid changes of the logistics world
He’s like the CEO for the logistics process.
The Future of the CSCO
We’ve seen talk of technology interfering with or minimizing the need for a CSCO. But in actuality, we’ve seen just the opposite to be true. As technology in the logistics sphere grows more advanced, so does the need for a strategy-level operations officer. One study found that formally appointing a CSCO to top management correlates directly with strong, optimized financial performance.
As systems become more interconnected and digital—like cloud ERPs, omnichannel operations, and blockchain— the day-to-day operations should get easier. The old way of managing logistics is obsolete. That means high-level strategizing is even more important to continuously innovate, problem-solve, and advance in a highly competitive world. Technology is just a tool that serves the decision making of the company—and those decisions fall to the CSCO.
The current goal of logistics technology is to make organizational operations more streamlined, sustainable, and optimized. Experts are working diligently to create a united supply chain from start to finish. And CSCOs are the spearheads that are working to create a synergistic process for organizations to run efficiently and to connect with one another.
Furthermore, technology and globalization are transforming the way business is run. Unpredictable changes are in the blood of everyday operations, and the most successful companies are those whose leaders embrace this change with innovation, collaboration, and flexibility.
Technology is not making logistics workers unnecessary. Rather, logistics tech systems are calling for today’s workers and leaders to grow to even higher levels in order to continuously improve operations with enormous speed, efficiency, and strategy.
As the business landscape has transformed, so has the role and purpose of the CSCO. In the last decade, the responsibilities of the chief supply chain officer have adapted and revolutionized with the times and the technology—for the betterment of organizations overall in a variety of verticals.
The role of the CSCO has not been devalued by tech but instead changed for the better as the operations industry continues to grow, metamorphose, and require even more creative strategizing and innovation.
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