Rich Karlgaard (Forbes) writes:
In business the future is real-time supply chains. This development is made possible by a new wave of technology: radio-frequency ID chips the size of pepper grains, broadband wireless and Web-based “dashboards” enabling monitoring and management. Because smart supply chains can be done, they will be done. In fact, they are being done. Manufacturers and retailers now deploying smart supply chains will jump the learning curve and become the Wal-Marts and Dells of the 21st century. Don’t imagine that you can withdraw from this arms race. Smart supply chains are becoming the sine qua non of modern business.
Yet for all the recent progress in supply chains, a weak link remains–the link between product development and manufacturing. You see, it’s not enough to manufacture quickly and cheaply and get your products into the stores just as the big ad campaign is breaking. Your products have to be desired by buyers. You want hits, not dogs.
Affluent, informed people want more than mere adequacy in the products they buy. They want products that satisfy deep desires and make emotional connections. To get this response from customers, you must generate a flow of hit products.
Supply-chain technology also will march in the direction of standards and ubiquity. (Think of personal computers.) At that point, decisive advantage will go to companies that use their supply chains to boost their rate of hit products.