Bimodal Supply Chain Strategy

What’s a Bimodal Supply Chain Strategy Anyway?

What’s a Bimodal Supply Chain Strategy Anyway?

              If the latest hype is to be believed, a bimodal supply chain strategy will be the only way (for larger companies especially) to secure supply chain success in the future. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. What it is apparent is that entrenchment in the conventional principles of linear supply chains just won’t do anymore. The supply chain environment has too many new challenges, driven by dramatic changes set in place by globalism, digital commerce, and increased consumer/buyer empowerment. So just in case, the bimodal concept proves worthy of the hype, it will at least pay to understand what it’s all about. The objective of this post therefore, is to clarify the meaning (in a nutshell) behind what may become the supply chain buzzword of 2017.   A Brief Explanation of the Bimodal Supply Chain The bimodal supply chain concept has nothing to do with shipping by air, sea, road or rail, although you could certainly be forgiven for thinking so—until you know better. In fact, bimodal supply chain strategy involves the simultaneous, side-by-side management of two distinct modes of operation, appropriately known as Mode 1 and Mode 2:   Mode 1: This is your traditional supply chain operation, based on efficiency, value-addition, and waste reduction, and eminently suited to what we now know as the old world of predictable demand. Let’s face it, even demand fluctuations used to be predictable compared to the current environment of volatility.   Mode 2: This is perceived as the new supply chain prerogative—a need to be flexible, agile, to take big, bold risks and experiment to find ways of adapting to rapid shifts in market forces (think natural disaster, economic upheaval, and political issues).   Two Into One Must Go If it helps, you can think of the two modes in a bimodal supply chain as being analog (Mode 1) and digital (Mode 2), but really the difference is more than merely technological. It’s also about the way your company promotes supply chain thinking, and as such, needs operational management teams comprised of both convergent and divergent thinkers.   Another way to visualise the concept is to consider Mode 1 as being traditional, while Mode 2 is exploratory.   If this sounds like a surefire way to promote, rather than discourage the silo mentality that so often pervades supply chain organisations,...

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