Businesses exist and endure when they know whom their customers are and how to serve them. Going into the future, companies need to understand their emerging clienteles, which are very different than earlier consumers.
The future customers:
The Millennial Generation is unlike the Baby Boomers and Generation X. These 19-35 year olds are more concerned about authenticity and social justice more than the earlier price conscious consumers. Now comes Generation Z, the current teens, which are even more particular about knowing everything behind what they are getting.
Guidance from a forward thinking expert:
The old ways of doing business will have to change for companies to survive. A leading forward thinker is Irfan Khan, the CEO of Bristlecone. The company designs anti-fragility supply-chains to help business operations run smoothly in major upsets. Khan has solid insights into the new age for establishments.
Khan stimulates our visualisation:
Supply chains can drive some of the change that we want to see in the world. Supply chain innovation cannot only improve your business and your bottom line but it can do some good along the way.
Imagine what our world would look like if because of more transparency in supply chain we could reduce human trafficking and forced servitude.
Imagine what our world would look like if we could cut down on pollution and energy waste—imagine what it would do to your business to be better to do all this while being able to control costs and inefficiencies.
Imagine what our world would look like if we could help emerging markets turn into global players. What if we could help entire countries begin to bring their economies in line with their more developed peers?
Khan explains Consumer Transparency:
Consumers want to know the source of the goods and products they buy. They want to know if child or slave labor has been used. They want to know if diamonds are blood diamonds. They want to know if parts are dangerous or hazardous. Especially when it comes to food, it matters to a growing number if their food was ethically grown or ethically caught.
Groups like the Partnership for Freedom see the promise of technology in solving three problems for end-to-end supply chain visibility: Worker’s Voices, Recruitment, and Traceability.
With Workers’ Voices, the premise is simple: workers are the best source of the conditions under which they are working. If we can give them access to technology such as a cell phone where they can text their conditions, we’ll be in a better position to know what is happening early on in the supply chain.
What transparent supply chains mean for a business' future according to Khan:
Consumers just don’t care about price but the social worth of a product is incredibly important to them as well.
We all know about the Millennials and their demands around these needs and social responsibility in general, however; don’t think this is just one generational trend; it is the wave of the future. Did you know generation Z? The buyer and worker of the future is even more vigilant in their requirements
The more information you can provide to answer a consumer’s questions about the ethics surrounding your product, the higher competitive advantage you will have against a competitor who can’t do the same.
Khan makes bold predictions for consumer transparency:
Just as much as products have to have their ingredients posted on them and various warning labels, the next step in this age of information, is that the source of those ingredients and raw goods will need to be displayed. As consumers become about where their goods come from, they will demand to be informed about the supply chain process that brought those goods to them.
In thinking about natural disasters that could hit your supply chain, it’s no longer a matter of “If,” but “When.” If you look at the set of hurricanes that hit the U.S. or the earthquake turned tsunami that hit Japan, looking forward on a scale of 5, 10, or 15 years, means that something will happen that will disrupt your supply chain.
But greater end-to-end visibility provides you with another competitive advantage: it makes your supply chain more resilient, more anti-fragile.
Khan speaks to leaders of large enterprises:
Your day-to-day operations will turn into 24/7 cycles as the work being done for your company will happen quite often when you and your CEO are sleeping.
A networked approach means that your company is going to have to grow in terms of who it reaches and interacts with. HR and legal jobs will expand to international law and personal management in places you will not have even imagined.
After talking about all of those parts, a networked approach might seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be. At Bristlecone, we’ve helped companies think through all of these implications when we’ve helped transform their supply chains. What appears overwhelming at first becomes an easier process that results in a more resilient network that ends up creating an antifragile supply chain and a nimble company.
The customer of the future is very different than the consumers of the past. The newer generations are much more conscious of where their products come from and how they are handled in the process. Additionally, the emerging buyers want quick and easy access to the goods they want. Corporation's success will ride on how well designed their supply chain system is to meet the customer demand of ethics and reliability.