Apple, McDonald's, Amazon top supply chain rankings

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is tops when it comes to supply chain performance, according to a new report by Gartner.

It's the seventh straight year for Apple, outpacing all other companies listed by a wide margin on the composite of financial and opinion measures used by Gartner for evaluation. McDonald's landed at No. 2 for the second year in a row, followed by Amazon in the third spot.
In all, six of the Top 25 were retailers and two — Samsung (6) and Nike (12) — were brands with some retail presence. In addition to those represented in the top five, other retailers like H&M, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Starbucks (NYSE:SBUX) made the cut.

The 10th annual Supply Chain Top 25 is intended to raise awareness of supply chain discipline and how it impacts business. "2014 marks the 10th year of our annual Supply Chain Top 25 ranking," said Stan Aronow, research VP at Gartner. "As we reach this milestone, we have several longtime leaders with new lessons to share and a number of more recent entrants from the high-tech, consumer product and industrial sectors in the Top 25."

Gartner analysts highlighted three standout trends for supply chain leaders in 2014, starting with understanding and supporting "the fully contextualized customer." Leading companies "present simple, elegant solutions to their customers, driven by conscious supply chain orchestration behind the curtain. Their center-led cultures enable consistently high-quality customer experiences tailored, where important, to local tastes," noted the report. "Ultimately, a deeper understanding of customers in their local environments is helping supply chain leaders capture more revenue for their businesses and improve operational effectiveness."

Second, digital and physical supply chain convergence requires solutions, not just products.

"Another significant aspect of the total customer solutions we see deployed by leaders relates to the remote management of aftermarket services, leveraging Internet connectivity," said Debra Hofman, Gartner research VP. "The Internet of Things allows for monitoring of performance across the value chain; in the field at customer sites, but also to collect and analyze the big data generated as part of upstream manufacturing and logistics flows. This additional connectivity has also elevated the importance of supply chain security to prevent theft, counterfeiting and other forms of fraud. One thing is clear — future supply chains must seamlessly integrate the digital and physical worlds of customers to be competitive."

And finally, the supply chain must be a trusted and integrated partner within an organization to support growth. Leading supply chains are enabling this growth both organically and through successfulmergers and aquisitions integration. The focus on profitable growth can lead to smarter, more conscious decision making, saving business groups from spiraling out of control in the drive to maximize revenue, according to Gartner.

The supply chain has a large part to play in enabling the business to compete for the future, concurrent with protecting existing business. Gartner noted the most advanced companies in its ranking are not afraid to rethink the design of their global supply networks. In some cases, this has led to increased vertical integration where leaders are getting into their customers' and their suppliers' businesses in an attempt to dominate value chains, redrawing the lines of competition in the process.

"Deeper contextual understanding of customers, leveraging digital business as part of broader customer solutions and supply chain leading balanced growth are this year's most common trends among supply chain leaders," said Aronow. "At its 10-year anniversary milestone, the Supply Chain Top 25 continues to offer a platform for debate, learning and helping the supply chain community push the envelope of innovation in its contributions to the global economy."

For more:
-See this Gartner press release

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