Are you struggling with balancing inventory? Today, many Nordic businesses face major challenges in matching their inflated stock levels and assortment of products with changing customer demands. The quest to maintain a high service level while minimizing costs remains a top priority, although now it seems more difficult than ever. Fortunately, smart supply chain planning can unleash the potential of your inventory and pave the way for supply chain success.

Why do businesses struggle to balance inventory?

In the midst of a global pandemic that profoundly disrupted the global supply chain, our current macroeconomic landscape has taken shape. With significantly reduced shipping capacity and prolonged lead times from Asia, businesses faced the challenge of meeting customer demands by placing substantial orders to stock up on inventory.

Fast forward a few years, and we now find ourselves grappling with high-interest rates and inflation. These economic forces have propelled a significant change in consumer behavior. Consumers are now favoring more affordable products over their pricier counterparts. Consequently, businesses have also adapted their supply chain strategies, stocking more inexpensive items to cater to these changing customer needs.

High inventory levels and the wrong product mix

This shift, however, has unwittingly given rise to a particular problem – the overstocking of higher-priced items. The current product mix is simply mismatched and does not align with the new customer needs. This is now causing large financial strains on businesses.

Previously, when interest rates remained low, companies focused on providing a high service level, and they could maintain extensive product inventory without incurring significant costs. Now the scenario is vastly different. Obtaining desired stock has become increasingly expensive, and the bottom line is directly impacted by percentages.

To cope with this, many businesses find themselves resorting to significant discounts to reduce their inventories, or they simply hit the brakes in an attempt to handle the situation. However, this scenario may eventually lead companies to face a “bullwhip effect”, resulting in empty shelves and disorganization throughout the supply chain.

High inventory levels and the wrong product mix

Discover the potential of your inventory

Instead, this situation calls for careful consideration of inventories to ensure a balanced mix of products. The more complex the supply chain, the more critical the inventory management. And as the complexity grows, so does the need for digitization, robust system support, and control.

For today’s companies, it is important to understand where the forecast lies. Keeping tabs on demand has always been valid, but it has now reached a new level of importance. The large expenses of maintaining product inventory heighten the need to align stock levels precisely with customer preferences.

Despite this, a vast majority of supply chain data correction is still today handled manually in Excel or via rigid and rule-based processes in ERP systems. These traditional systems are primarily designed for data input rather than supply chain optimization. This often leads to an accumulation of slow-moving items with irregular and sporadic demand patterns. As a result, businesses face increased costs and inefficiencies.

To maximize the true potential of your inventory, a System of Differentiation (applications dedicated to handling specific business needs to reach a competitive edge) – rather than a System of Record (applications and ERP systems dedicated to handling the most basic and critical data need and processes) – is required.

Use a smart supply chain planning platform

A smart supply chain planning platform can be tailored to optimize a company’s specific supply chain operations. It leverages advanced algorithms and intelligent automation to provide the insights needed to make informed decisions and take proactive actions.

A modern supply chain planning system will provide a high service level for the end customers by securing the right product mix, while still keeping inventory levels low.

Companies can maintain a high service level not only during peak periods or with high-volume items but also with products sold sporadically. It ensures an efficient operation while keeping inventory levels low or at their optimal point.

By implementing the right system support, businesses can experience remarkable cost savings. On average, stock levels can be reduced by as much as 30%. Imagine the impact that saving such a significant amount of money can have on your bottom line.

Moreover, a smart supply chain planning platform eliminates the need for manual work. Automating time-consuming tasks liberates planners to focus on more rewarding activities, such as proactive risk assessments. This allows them to contribute strategically to the company’s success and drive growth.

To sum it up, your company will benefit from a higher level of service, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Simultaneously, inventory levels will be optimized, enabling you to strike the delicate balance between meeting demand and minimizing excess stock. Furthermore, the automation provided reduces operational inefficiencies and streamlines your processes, paving the way for increased productivity and profitability.

A large network of supply chain experts at your service

At Optilon, our expertise stems from a rich 30-year integration heritage, empowering us to seamlessly integrate solutions for production planning, demand forecasting, inventory optimization, and replenishment. With a vast network of 50 supply chain experts in the Nordics, we offer unparalleled support to our clients.

Don’t settle for outdated methods. Contact us today and discover how we can help you transform your business. It is time to step into the future of supply chain planning.

Let us help you unleash the potential of your inventory. Book a meeting today!

Is your supply chain a growth driver for your business? If not, it is time to take a closer look at supply chain design. A well-designed supply chain can transform your business by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction, and providing a competitive edge. In this blog post, we will explore 7 ways supply chain design can transform your business and turn challenges into opportunities.

What is supply chain design?

Supply chain design is the process of creating an optimal strategy for moving goods from suppliers to end customers. It involves building an optimal network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in the production, handling, and transportation of goods. It includes a range of tactical as well as strategic decisions. 

Some examples are defining the optimal warehouse footprint or where to invest in production capacity based on a point-of-gravity or greenfield analysis. Other decisions involve optimizing sourcing based on total landed cost, analyzing the transportation system, or managing resources throughout the supply chain. Additional examples are balancing supply and demand based on lowest cost or highest profit or conducting a cost-to-serve analysis to gain insight into the actual cost of reaching each customer.

Now that we have sorted out what supply chain design is, let us explore 7 ways supply chain design can transform your business.

1. Become proactive rather than reactive

One common misconception about implementing supply chain design is that it is a large and complicated task that only needs to be done occasionally. This cannot be any further from the truth. Yet, many companies engage in supply chain design reactively, after a crisis, or repetitively but too rarely.

By using a structured supply chain data model, companies can empower their supply chain design process and become proactive rather than reactive. By testing different strategies in a sandbox environment, companies can improve their supply chain design and be better prepared when crises occur – or avoid them altogether.

2. Effectively balance supply chain key factors

While supply chains are becoming increasingly complex and data volumes continue to rise, businesses are facing greater challenges in achieving the optimal balance between cost, service, risk, and sustainability. Making the best decisions in this context requires a delicate equilibrium between all these dimensions.

Fortunately, advanced algorithms offer a way for companies to continually review and adapt their strategies, ensuring they are making the most informed decisions that effectively balance these key factors. By leveraging the power of data-driven insights, businesses can fine-tune their operations to reduce cost, deliver exceptional service, minimize risk, and promote sustainability.

3. Respond more effectively to changes

The current macroeconomic situation has created a pressing need for businesses to reduce the time it takes to answer critical business questions. Supply chain leaders are exposed to more questions in shorter time spans than ever before.

A robust supply chain design process that incorporates an end-to-end data model and purpose-built applications empowers leaders to take control of their data and develop strategies to respond more effectively to changes. By adopting new technologies and a continuous supply chain design process, companies can respond more effectively to changes and turn their supply chain challenges into competitive advantages.

4. Make fact-based supply chain decisions 

Given the complexity of supply chain and the increasing demand for fast decisions, it can sometimes be challenging for companies to find the time to get the facts on the table and conduct a thorough analysis. Many companies still rely on spreadsheets, which often lead to hasty shortcuts and inaccuracies.

To stay ahead of the competition, leading companies are turning to modern technologies to fundamentally rethink and transform their supply chain processes. By using advanced tools and techniques, they are able to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of their supply chain networks and leverage continuous scenario planning.

Companies that successfully incorporate network optimization applications into their decision-making processes gain insights that were previously impossible to obtain solely through experience. Furthermore, these tools provide an objective view of the data, which can challenge long-held assumptions and lead to more accurate decision-making.

5. Increase long-term supply chain resiliency

In supply chain design, the traditional trade-offs have been focused on cost, service, and risk. In recent years, also sustainability has been taken into account while ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has become increasingly important. However, the prevailing approach has still prioritized cost, giving it a higher weight in decision-making. This has led to trade-offs that prioritize short-term cost savings over long-term resilience. But fact remains that a resilient supply chain is critical not only during times of crisis but also in everyday business operations.

To address this challenge, it is essential for companies to balance resilient thinking with the need for faster decision-making. This requires having alternative options already in place and maintaining them over time, so that reactive decision-making can be avoided in favor of strategic analysis. By adopting a long-term perspective, companies can ensure that cost-efficient decisions are also resilient and sustainable over time.

6. Allow for multiple users of supply chain technology

Historically, advanced technology in supply chain design has only been accessible to a select few. This has resulted in bottlenecks and prevented companies from realizing the full potential of running multiple scenarios in a short time span. But with today’s technology, it is possible to create personalized user experiences and bespoke applications that cater to the needs of a much larger pool of users. This allows for tailored solutions where more stakeholders can conduct the scenario analysis.

7. Improve collaboration through increased visibility

The supply chain design process plays a crucial role in increasing supply chain visibility. It not only offers a holistic view of the end-to-end supply chain. It also includes potential future supply chains generated by what-if scenarios. This enables companies to establish a common analytic platform and view of data, rather than creating silos with multiple versions of the same information.

By adopting this approach, all analytical tasks within the supply chain can be based on the same data and assumptions. These can be governed and maintained in a cross-functional arena, promoting collaboration and enhancing efficiency.

Are you ready to take your supply chain to the next level?

I hope this article  gave you some useful knowledge and insights into how supply chain design can transform your business and turn challenges into opportunities. At Optilon, we know that navigating the complexities of supply chain design can be challenging. But the rewards are truly game-changing. By implementing sustainable supply chain design strategies, you increase your chances of beating the competition.

Are you ready to take the leap and revolutionize the way you do business? Our team of experts is here to guide you every step of the way. Don’t let your competitors get ahead – contact us today and let us embark on this exciting journey together.

Yes, I am ready to beat the competition. Let us book a meeting today!

Want to stay in the loop with the latest in supply chain optimization? Join us on LinkedIn!

The past eventful years have had a profound impact on global supply chains. It has exposed vulnerabilities in the system and highlighted the need for resiliency. In this context, supply chain design has become increasingly critical. For many businesses, it may seem like a massive challenge lies ahead. But the reality is the time to embrace supply chain is now. Companies that see and make good use of the opportunities presented in this new supply chain era we are entering can achieve significant competitive advantages now and in the future.

Macroeconomic effects on the global supply chain

A lot has happened in the world lately. We are now living with the legacy of a transformation that has taken place in the past few years. It started with the coronavirus outbreak leading to shutdowns of factories as well as ports worldwide. This had a massive impact on global supply chains and challenged many businesses worldwide. Then, as we all hoped the pandemic would be the worst hit of the decade, the invasion of Ukraine happened. Sanctions against Russia, increased inflation rate, and higher global commodity prices, among other consequences, caused further disruptions in global supply chains.

We now find ourselves in a macroeconomic situation where geopolitical events and new economic conditions are forcing companies to really think about their supply chains: How resilient are they? And what is the best strategy to stay competitive in the global market?

The focus has shifted

Five years ago, few raised an eyebrow when businesses decided to source energy from countries such as Russia or move production to low-cost countries such as China. But now, due to the current state of the world and increased vulnerability, priorities have changed. The focus has shifted from keeping costs down to minimizing risk exposure, shortening lead times, improving service levels, and ensuring supply chain sustainability.

Businesses are no longer willing to take the risks involved in long-distance sourcing, and they are becoming more selective in which countries they choose to do business with. At the same time, supply chain sustainability has emerged as a key corporate goal. Due to stricter laws and regulations but also increased consumer demands, businesses must now navigate a new regulatory landscape and manage both supply chain risks and opportunities related to environmental, social, and governance criteria.

Are local supply chains the answer to vulnerability?

As a response, many companies are considering shifting from a global to a regional supply chain setup. While this has quickly become somewhat of a global megatrend, it is, however, important not to jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of it.

Here is an example: A global medtech company provides the European market with hearing aids. They produce their products in China to keep costs down. But now they decide to move their production closer to their customers in Europe. By moving the production to Europe, they hope to reduce vulnerability in the supply chain. However, in Europe, there are no suppliers that can provide the medtech Company with the material they need to produce their hearing devices. The medtech company ends up having to still source the material from suppliers in China. Although production is now closer to their European customers, the problem remains.

Add to the equation the complexity of a much broader product portfolio with multiple suppliers, production sites, distribution points, logistics partners, network nodes, customer segments, and markets – and you can imagine the challenge.

How to design an optimal supply chain

Shifting from a global to a local supply chain setup is not a universal solution that fits all. In fact, there is no “one size fits all” solution for optimal supply chain design. Each company needs to thoroughly analyze their current supply chain setup to design the best solution for their business. The first question to ask is: What is the most important for my business? Is it reducing cost, minimizing risk exposure, shortening lead times, improving service levels, or ensuring a sustainable supply chain?

The answer will be different for every company. Here are a few examples:

For a company that produces standard products, keeping costs down is probably central as their customers are only willing to pay so much. A company that sells spare parts probably prioritizes fast delivery times over cost as their customers will immediately turn to competitors if they have to wait for the products – and they are probably prepared to pay extra for that. A retail company with high requirements for recycling materials and lowering CO2 emissions probably has sustainability on top of its agenda – and so on.

How to design an optimal supply chain

Most companies are likely to seek a balance between all the dimensions – cost, risk, lead time, service level, and sustainability to make trade-offs between risks and gains and conclude when to use which supply chain strategy or setup.

In addition, today’s debate is very much centered around supply chain from a supply perspective. But equally important is the customer perspective. Businesses need to think not only about what provides orders but also what provides customers: What requirements do customers have in terms of cost, time, service, and sustainability? And what are the consequences of these requirements on the supply chain?

The new supply chain era brings possibilities

For many businesses, it may seem like a massive challenge lies ahead. But the reality is the time to embrace supply chain is now. Supply chain has gone from being a decentralized issue to becoming a CEO issue and a boardroom-level topic. In fact, the willingness to invest in supply chain has never been stronger. Now, post-pandemic, we are entering an era full of opportunities – and now is the time to make good use of them.

Do you want your supply chain to be a growth driver and engine for your business? Don’t just go with the flow and follow the next big trend. Ensure you put time and effort into analyzing your current setup in order to create a more agile, customer-focused, and resilient supply chain.

Do you need help from an expert?

Are you considering redesigning your supply chain to stay competitive in the global market? Perhaps, you are unsure what setup is the best for your company or what options or possibilities there are? At Optilon, we are experts in efficient supply chain decision-making. We help businesses build, strengthen, and optimize supply chain design through well-proven processes and technology. We can help you create a future-state roadmap with scenario comparisons and analyses, articulate supply chain complexity and relevant actions, evaluate the consequences and risks, and make decision recommendations. Sounds interesting?

Let Optilon unlock the potential of your supply chain. Book a meeting today!

Today, supply chain is not only an integral part of most businesses. In the wake of the pandemic, it has proven to be crucial to company success and customer satisfaction. Here are 12 supply chain phrases every company needs to know in the 21st century.

1. Supply Chain

Let us start with the basics: What is Supply Chain? A Supply Chain is a network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in the production, handling, and distribution of goods and services. It includes all the steps required to create and deliver a product or service – from purchasing raw materials and components – to manufacturing, distribution, and delivery to the end customer.

2. Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Supply chain management (SCM) refers to the planning, coordination, and execution of activities involved in the production and delivery of goods and services from the supplier to the end customer. SCM involves managing the flow of goods, information, and finances across the entire supply chain. The goal of SCM is to optimize the supply chain to maximize efficiency, minimize costs, and improve customer satisfaction. Activities include procurement, production, inventory management, logistics, transportation, and distribution. SCM also involves collaborating with suppliers and other partners in the supply chain to ensure that all parties are working towards a common goal.

3. Value Chain

Value Chain is a concept used in corporate management and strategic planning to describe the various activities carried out within an organization to create value for their customers. A Value Chain consists of several activities. They range from the start of the production process to the delivery of the final product to the customer. The activities in a Value Chain can be divided into primary and secondary activities. Primary activities are those directly involved in the production of a product or service, such as purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, and sales. Secondary activities are those that support primary activities, such as logistics, technical support, and personnel management.

4. Supply Chain Planning

Supply Chain Planning involves forecasting demand, determining purchasing volumes for safety stock, and scheduling production, transport, and distribution of goods and services. It is an important part of Supply Chain Management, as it helps to ensure that the right products are in the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantities.

Learn more about Supply Chain Planning here.

5. Supply Chain Design

Supply Chain Design involves building an optimal network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in the production, handling, and distribution of goods and services. It includes strategic decisions for where to place warehouses and manufacturing facilities, how to transport goods, and how to handle the flow of information and resources throughout the supply chain.

Learn more about Supply Chain Design here.

6. Supply Chain Sustainability

Supply Chain Sustainability aims to reduce the environmental impact and improve the social and economic performance of the supply chain. It includes activities such as reducing waste and emissions, promoting ethical and responsible purchasing, and supporting the well-being of employees and communities. Supply Chain Planning & Supply Chain Design are effective methods for minimizing the environmental impact of waste and emissions.

Learn more about Supply Chain Sustainability here.

7. Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP)

Sales & Operations Planning, also known as S&OP, is a process that involves the coordination of sales and operating functions within a company. It involves creating a long-term plan for sales, production, and warehousing and identifying and solving any conflicts or problems that may arise. S&OP helps to ensure that the company can meet customer demand while maximizing efficiency and profitability.

Learn more about Sales & Operations Planning here.

8. Supply Chain Optimization

Supply Chain Optimization is the process of improving and simplifying the supply chain by identifying and eliminating inefficiency and improving the flows of goods, services, and information. This can be done through various techniques such as forecasting, warehouse management, logistics, and transport management. The ultimate goal is to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer service.

Supply chain phrases

9. Supply Chain Digital Twin

A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of real-world supply chain operations. The live data can be used in everything from quality control to inventory management. A Digital Twin can be used by engineering, production, and maintenance teams to experiment with new approaches and what-if scenarios without disrupting the actual production. The data can be fed to Machine Learning predictive models to discover previously unknown operational patterns and aberrations. It can also be automatically input into decision models. A Digital Twin will ultimately help teams explore and understand the key drivers and trade-offs in optimized plans and decisions.

10. Supply Chain Visibility

Supply Chain Visibility means having control and insight into the entire supply chain, from suppliers to customers, to make informed decisions and handle any problems or deviations. Businesses can achieve through technology that collects data from relevant sources, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Transport Management Systems (TMS), or Warehouse Management Systems. These can provide real-time data on key figures, such as warehouse product flows and estimated delivery times.

11. Scenario Planning

Supply Chain Scenario Planning aims to identify and analyze possible future events and their impact on the supply chain. This involves creating different hypotheses and evaluating how the supply chain would respond to each one. It helps organizations predict and prepare for any disruptions or changes in demand and make well-informed decisions on how to reduce risks and optimize the supply chain. Scenario Planning can also help organizations identify opportunities for improvement and develop backup plans for unexpected events. It is a proactive method for managing uncertainty and risks in the supply chain.

12. Demand Forecasting

Demand Forecasting is the process of estimating the amount of a product or service that customers will buy. Companies use Demand Forecasting to make well-informed business decisions about how much stock they need, how much they should produce, and what prices to set. It also helps companies identify trends and patterns in consumer behavior and predict changes in demand.

Is your supply chain resilient enough?

I hope you found these supply chain phrases helpful. In the past few years, supply chain resilience has become a hot topic – and with good reason. To ensure business continuity, mitigate risks, enhance customer satisfaction, improve operational efficiency, and meet regulatory and social expectations, today’s companies need to create future-proof supply chains. How resilient is yours?

Optilon focuses on helping customers utilize their resources where they generate the most value. We are a company founded by engineers that combine world-leading technology with Nordic expertise in supply chain.

Let one of our dedicated supply chain experts help you. Book a meeting today!

Supply chain consultants at Optilon have been helping Nordic companies become the most competitive in the world since 2005. After years of growth and an increased Finnish demand for the company’s services, Optilon is now opening its new office in Finland.

Optilon helps companies use their resources where they are most useful by combining leading technology and Nordic expertise in supply chain management. This includes simplifying and strengthening complex distribution chains and creating more optimal product flows, which in turn leads to less unnecessary resource consumption, less carbon footprint, and increased profitability and a smaller environmental impact. This has become increasingly sought after at a time when global trade and global distribution chains have been challenged by pandemics and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since its inception, Optilon has experienced strong growth, with steadily increasing sales figures. To meet customer needs, the company is now opening a new office in Helsinki, Finland.

– We have worked with Finnish companies for many years, but now we are scaling up our ambitions even further. Our goal is to double our turnover in Finland. By opening our first physical office in Helsinki, we can even better meet the needs of our existing customers, while fully focusing on winning new assignments. With this, we are also in need of recruiting new talents to the Finnish market, says John Wikström, Sales & Account Manager Finland at Optilon, responsible for establishing the company in Finland.

Supply chain management has risen higher on the agenda as many companies actively work to create more robust and sustainable flows. In fact, value chain emissions account for up to 70% of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN estimates. Therefore, Optilon is now also strengthening its sustainability offering.

– We want to be where our customers are and help them solve their biggest challenges. For many, it is specifically reducing emissions from the supply chain. By measuring and including their emissions data from the start, designing with that in mind, and constantly optimizing their supply chain to reduce emissions, a company can make enormous climate gains. And we want to help them with that, both in Finland and in the Nordics, says John Wikström.

About Optilon:

Optilon is a consulting firm that helps its customers use their resources where they are most useful by combining world-leading technology with Nordic expertise in supply chain management. Optilon was founded in 2005 and is today active throughout the Nordic region with offices in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

For further information please contact:

John Wikström
Sales & Account Manager Finland
Ph: +358 400992919

Tea Grbic
Brand & Marketing Lead
Ph: +46 761029751

That supply chains are not only the backbone of any business, but fundamental for success, has become evident in the past few years. Staying up to date with trends is imperative for any Nordic business to plan for the future and stay competitive in the global market. In this article, I share 7 global supply chain trends in 2023 to help you out.

1. Shifting focus from only cost to also risk

Looking back at the past decade, the majority of companies in Scandinavia and Northern Europe have been characterized by outsourcing their production to low-cost countries such as China. The same goes for sourcing raw materials and components. But in the past few years, the world as we know it was turned upside down. The dramatic events of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suez Canal blockage, and the invasion of Ukraine all caused significant disruption to global supply chains.

As a result, Scandinavia and Northern European companies have started to realize that although cost-efficient, single sourcing from Asia is not very resilient to changes – regardless of size – may they be massive, like a pandemic, or small, such as fluctuation in market demand. This has now led to more companies shifting focus from only cost to also risk. And minimizing those risks has rapidly risen to the top of their agendas.

2. Reshoring – bringing production home

As part of this shift, Scandinavian and Northern European companies that are outsourcing from Asia are considering buying a return ticket. In fact, we are already starting to see examples of reshoring in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries where businesses are bringing their entire or parts of their production home.

By moving their entire production home or sourcing from both Asia and Europe, they are looking to increase their chances of withstanding failure in the primary supply chain and reduce their overall supply chain vulnerability. However, to do that, it is important to have the right tools in place for efficient supply chain planning and smart use of resources.

3. Moving towards differentiation

In the aftermath of the pandemic and invasion of Ukraine, we are also seeing an increased focus on differentiation, where companies are looking to set themselves apart from the competition through new price points and inventory strategies.

With inflation pressures, consumer behaviors and customer demands are shifting from high-end products to more affordable ones. At the same time, businesses are focusing on cost efficiency to prevent their capital from going through the roof.

To meet the demands for availability and service level – while at the same time keeping inventory costs under control – companies realize they need to become more granular and specific in how they control and optimize their inventories.

As a result, we are now seeing more businesses moving away from manual and semi-manual processes and using “one size fits all” types of rules toward differentiation, digitalization, and automation.

4. Prioritising supply chain design

Another strong trend that has emerged as a result of the increased supply chain awareness is the need for companies to improve their supply chain design. This is particularly noticeable in companies with high supply chain complexity.

Supply chain complexity can arise from several sources – network nodes and links, internal and external processes, product and service range, product design and development, supplier integration, and information and organizational complexity.

While companies are adding the cost and risk dimensions into their supply chain design, two more dimensions need to be considered to secure resiliency. The first is service level, which includes the ability to offer short lead time to customers. The second is sustainability, which includes the ability to map the current CO2 footprint and find new supply chain set-ups that will reduce CO2 emissions without a large negative impact – or even reduction – on cost or other dimensions. As the global market for emissions credits matures, this will also be part of the equation.

Companies must review their supply chain based on all four dimensions to create a shared view of the supply chain and find their trade-off. If companies can do that, their chances of securing continued competitiveness and obtaining sales will increase.

5. Creating a digital twin of the supply chain

More companies are embracing digital technologies to help them design their supply chains and outsmart disruption. One critical component of this shift is using a digital twin. A digital twin is a digital representation of a company’s end-to-end supply chain network. 

You can look at it as a sandbox extension of your supply chain: By recreating your real supply chain in a virtual world, you can apply what-if scenarios and create versions of the future to model alternative scenarios for uncertain areas within your business. This enables you to efficiently make trade-offs between risks and potential gains and conclude under which pre-conditions to use which supply chain setup or strategy. 

Instead of assessing your supply chain every third year, you can use your digital twin to review your setup annually, semi-annually, or even quarterly, as well as ad-hoc. Slowly but surely, the digital twin is becoming a key component of future supply chains. It will be the common playground for sales, sourcing, supply chain, and sustainability to gather around. It will also help companies break silos and adopt a more holistic approach.

6. Supply chain automation, robotics, and AI

Tapping into digitalization and technology, the use of automation, robotics, and AI in supply chains continues to be a strong trend. Automated solutions for supply chain tracking, inventory and warehouse management, and back-office tasks have allowed for leaps forward in labor productivity performance. The shortage of truck drivers has catapulted the transport industry into the forefront of AI and autonomous vehicles.

Although these new technologies have the potential to reshape the entire supply chain, many of them, especially AI, haven’t fully matured and reached their full potential yet. Inserting AI into a data system (ERP or similar) will not automatically generate a ready-made business strategy. As with any other data analysis, it still takes a lot of work to collect the data, transform it, and ensure it is high-quality and connected. Once that is done, you can start accessing all the business value AI can bring.

While there are efficient AI solutions today for forecasting, promotion planning, and data correction, for example, we will see more and better applications of AI, machine learning, and reinforcement learning for various supply chain problems in the future.

7. Sustainability and transparency in focus

The future consumer market will be shaped by millennials and Gen Z. If a business wants to survive in the next century, its strategies must align with the priorities and values of these consumers. Millennials and Gen Z expect companies to be more visible, active, and transparent. They don’t settle for less than proof and demand sustainable supply chain practices addressing climate change, human rights, and corruption.

As a result, the tracking trend is intensifying. More companies are using RFID tags, QR codes, and blockchain technology to identify and track the entire chain of movement on the way to the end consumer. Tracking also provides companies with better data for improving supply chain operations, reducing costs, and proving a product’s origin.

With the increasing demand from millennials and Gen Z, we are also seeing companies shifting from linear supply chains to circular supply chains to minimize waste and environmental impact. This shift is a no-brainer for some companies, while others struggle to find a suitable circular supply chain model.

How efficiently do you use your resources?

Supply chains are no longer a marginal concern for businesses. Today, supply chain knowledge and experience should have a given place in the boardroom as more companies realize supply chain is about much more than merely cost reduction. It is a possibility to differentiate, create strong offers, and stand out from the competition. At Optilon, we believe Nordic companies have the potential to be the most competitive in the world. They just need to use their recourses more efficiently than their competitors to get there.

Do you need the help of a supply chain expert? Book a meeting today!

Welcome to a Recap of The Optilon Supply Chain conference 2022, held on September 8, 2021.

Disruptions come in many forms, and in recent years Supply Chains have faced numerous highly disruptive risk events. Supply Chains are also influenced by sustainability, customer demand precision, and customization in delivery.

A proactive response requires visibility, adaptability, and agility. For many companies, this means re-imagining the Supply Chain and balancing the tradeoffs in new and effective ways.

This year’s topics






About the event

This premium event is dedicated to helping optimize the business through the Supply Chain. Our emphasis is on enhancing experiences and embracing disruption and innovation to re-imagine the Supply Chain and build competitive advantages.

Join leading thinkers and practitioners at the Optilon Supply Chain conference to explore best practices, opportunities, and challenges of optimizing the business through the Supply Chain.

Why watch the recording?

You will get an insight into:

  • How do Nordic companies perform compared to others in terms of sustainability?
  • How mature are my organization’s current capabilities?
  • What could I gain by better collaborating with my network?
  • How is customer behavior changing, and how do my relationships with customers need to change due to disruption?


While trying to re-imagine the future Supply Chain – at this conference, Optilon would like to support your journey with inspiration on:

  • Why is there a need to disrupt our current way of living, working, and being
  • How you can harness the power of data and create competitive advantages
  • How can you empower and engage your employees in the sustainable agenda and ensure progress
  • Why collaborating with the broader ecosystem is key to responding to the broader ecosystem

This year’s conference was again carried out in a dynamic environment with inspirational speakers worldwide. Come and join us. It is free and online!

Who should watch it?

  • Supply Chain Managers
  • COOs
  • Production Managers
  • S&OP Managers
  • Planning Managers
  • Planning Professionals
  • Supply Chain Data Analysts
  • IT Managers
  • Sustainability Managers and Professionals
  • CEOs and CFOs
  • Head of Digital Transformation8

Covid-19, labor shortages, and disruptions, in general, have created global Supply Chain nightmares and revealed a need to modernize the Supply Chain with modern technologies and data-driven approaches, especially within the planning area. The utilization of AI and machine learning is helping to modernize the Supply Chain. More can though be done. A recent report is stating that only 8% (1) of the companies are able to mitigate Supply Chain disruptions due to their maturity.
The key question is: How does the leader succeed with technology and a data-driven approach when maturity is low?

Cultural change is critical

Companies and Supply Chains have been working to become more data-driven for many years. Some have done this with mixed results. Everyone understands by now that those that are able to utilize data to make more informed decisions will stand out in the competition compared to those who do not.
The biggest challenge for organizations working on their data-driven approach might not have to do with technology at all. Cultural change is the most critical business imperative. Becoming data-driven is about the ability of people and organizations to adapt to change.
Long-established companies, which have been successful over generations or centuries, are unlikely to change overnight. Becoming data-driven represents a business transformation that is playing out over the course of a generation.

Barriers to becoming data-driven

Achieving data-driven leadership remains an aspiration for most organizations — just 26.5% of organizations report having established a data-driven organization (1). Second, becoming data-driven requires an organizational focus on cultural change. According to the report, 91.9% of executives cite cultural obstacles as the greatest barrier to becoming data-driven.

1. Understand the stakeholders

It is not a technology issue. It is a people challenge. The task of being data-driven keeps getting harder. Today, companies encounter vast new volumes of data, as well as new sources of data. Data cuts across traditional organizational boundaries, often without clear ownership. The fluidity of data compounds the complexity of managing this asset in a way that consistently delivers business value.

2. Adopt a new mental mindset

Becoming a data-driven organization is a journey, which unfolds over time, measured in years, and sometimes decades. Becoming data-driven requires a different mindset. Organizations must be prepared to think differently. There is no shortage of analytic algorithms. These need to be matched by critical thinking, human judgment, as well as creative innovation.

3. Fail fast, learn faster

Leaders must understand that individuals and organizations learn through experience, which often entails trial and error. It has been said that failure is a foundation of innovation. Companies that are prepared for faster iterative learning — fail fast, learn faster — will gain insight and knowledge before their competitors.

4. Focus on the long-term

Data leaders appreciate that the data journey is a transformation effort that unfolds over time. Becoming data-driven is a process. The French writer Voltaire famously said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” (2) Perfection is rarely achievable. Data-driven companies recognize that success is achieved iteratively. Successful organizations expect to be at this for a while. They focus on the long-term.

As many as 85% of companies want to have a digital Supply Chain in place within five years. But companies’ roadmaps often only have a three-year horizon. And all the disruptions of the past few years have only intensified the short-term focus (3).

5. Decide whether it is optimization or transformation

Many companies confuse digital optimization with digital transformation. As an example of digital optimization, you have retailers which implement technologies where you can shop without physically having to pay at checkout. Instead, smart technology registers what they take off the shelves and the amount is debited automatically. This is not a new business model, so it’s not a digital transformation.

Companies that enable consumers to use an app to order groceries for home delivery have introduced a new value proposition that can help them to attract new customers. This could even be linked to a new revenue model, such as a subscription. This is indeed a new business model, and it also has a major impact on the Supply Chain. The key question here is, what do you want to achieve – digital optimization or digital transformation?

New technologies can help to reduce costs because they allow for example planners to create a schedule faster. They can also be used to improve the quality of decisions or to plan things that were impossible to plan in the past. The key thing to do though is to determine where you currently stand in terms of maturity and which steps you need to take to improve it.

With inspiration from:

Reducing Emissions in the Supply Chain is Crucial to Tackle Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. To meet the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to well below 1.5 degrees, there is an urgent need to decarbonize global emissions. This has been a well-established fact for several years. And when it comes to driving global change, companies of all sizes have an important role to play.

As a result of the increased focus on sustainability in recent years, expectations on companies to monitor and reduce their environmental impact have also increased drastically. We have, therefore, asked 400 Nordic companies how they work with these issues. Our study shows that most companies (two out of three) already measure and report at least one out of the three Scopes of greenhouse gas emissions. But many seem to underestimate the share of emissions from their value chain (Scope 3 emissions).

Emissions from the value chain account for more than 70 percent of a company’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Underestimating the share of Scope 3 emissions thus imply a risk in a company’s way towards reduced emissions. This is something that needs to be highlighted to drive change on a large scale. Focusing only on emissions from the own operation is not enough. Rather, companies can improve their climate footprint substantially by optimizing their supply chain.

In our first-of-a-kind report, we have taken a closer look at how Nordic small and medium-sized companies (SME:s) and large companies within different sectors work with targets for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, what Scopes of emissions they measure and report, and how they work to reduce emissions from their value chain. We have also collected our best advice on how to create a more sustainable supply chain.

Some of our Key Takeaways from the report

  1. More than four out of five Nordic companies have set sustainability goals that they work towards.
  2. Up to half of Nordic companies have set a target for eliminating emissions.
  3. Four out of five Nordic companies with a target for eliminating emissions plan on doing so within the next ten years.
  4. Large companies are more likely than SME:s to set targets for eliminating emissions
  5. There is a clear similarity among the Nordic countries although they all vary in mindset and focus.

Read about all the findings and more from the report below.

The industrial economy is coming to an end and a very different economy is emerging – with new technologies, new business models, new roles, and a new mindset. The next economy will be focused on solutions, that are constantly changing and reconfigured in response to end users’ changing needs. A shift that is also driven by a mixture of the necessity to become sustainable and rapid technological development. What will this mean to the Supply Chain?


A new underlying logic for running the business

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the machine was a metaphor for society. Industrialization was based on automated, mechanical mass production, and capitalism with its focus on money and growth was the underlying logic of the economy. Then came computers, and with digitization came an economy that was based on bits and information – increasingly virtual and detached from the limitations of the physical world. The next transformation is moving toward a technological paradigm characterized by living systems and biology, which can support our well-being in the future in a stable and sustainable way. We will mobilize biology to deliver what we currently produce with fossil energy, chemistry, and mechanics.


Three connected transitions

According to Peter Hesseldahl, journalist, and author of the book “When technology comes alive, and life becomes technology” we will see three connected transitions when transitioning to the future.

  • Our relationship with technology: New powerful technologies like artificial intelligence and biotechnology will change humans’ relationships with technology.

  • Our relationship with nature: Our relationship with nature and the ecosystem must change from domination to partnership.

  • Our relationship with each other: At the same time, we are leaving the industrial society and logic and moving towards a new economy based on other values than just money, and in which the distribution of power and wealth must be renegotiated.

The whole idea or basis for the above three transitions is, that they must turn out well for the entire transition to succeed in creating a thriving world.

Supply Chain to be seen as a living system

Digitization is reshaping the fundamentals of the Supply Chain. It changes the culture to one which is more adaptive, resilient, innovative, and customer-centric. The organization must be seen and function as a living system – not just a mechanical one.

Living systems are ecosystems. There must be a balanced interaction between the many different parts of the system, otherwise, it will collapse. If one wants to thrive in the long run, one must ensure that all other elements of the system thrive as well. Therefore, concepts such as circularity, resilience, and regeneration become essential. There is a wide range of characteristics and principles that recur in all living systems. Often, they are almost the opposite of the rules of the game we have created in the mechanical and digital economy. Also in the Supply Chain, as well as in the business in general, we must start acting in accordance with the principles of ecosystems.

Principles for re-imagining

How can we learn from how living systems work and use them as principles that are relevant to guiding and shaping the future approach? Here are a couple of examples that can help you re-imagine the Supply Chain in the living economy:

Example 1: Resources kept within the limitations of the ecosystem

An organization cannot function in isolation. It is supposed to be in constant interaction with the environment. The world consists of interconnected and interacting systems. Just disassembling and examining individual components will not provide an understanding of the relations and interactions. That could potentially mean that the Supply Chain must be configured within the limitations of the ecosystem. As opposed to today where resources are seen as abundant and inexhaustible.

Example 2: Ecosystems are circular

The waste from one process becomes raw material in other processes. An ecosystem consists of a multitude of creatures and organisms, each evolved to play a specific part in the vast streams that transform materials and energy into everchanging forms. It is a balanced interaction where everyone plays a part so as not to break the chain.

It would most likely mean an end to mass production and standardized solutions. Instead, it is time to invent instances- solutions for specific contexts. It will also mean an end to scaling and providing similar solutions to the whole world. We will see more diverse, decentralized, and local solutions. Manufacturing, and running of the operations in general, will be done on flexible platforms as opposed to fixed platforms, as we see it today.

Example 3: Reconnecting with each other is key

On the more social side, we will see an urge to reconnect with each other – and nature. An economic model where one simply gobbles up nature and spits out the waste is not sustainable- and likewise, an economy that consumes people to create money is not a durable strategy. The system needs to be balanced to create long-term well-being for everyone. We will hence see an urge to regain individual freedom to compete and create but in a new format expressed as responsibility and accountability. Humanity, empathy, and creativity are crucial competencies.

Welcome to the living economy

So, as mentioned in the beginning: The industrial economy is coming to an end and a very different economy is emerging – with new technologies, new business models, new roles, and a new mindset. The next economy will be focused on solutions, that are constantly changing and reconfigured in response to end users’ changing needs. It is also an economy shaped by very strong demands to reduce CO2 emissions and impact on the environment. It is a highly complex economy, which connects large numbers of players by using extreme amounts of data.

Interestingly, all of this leads to solutions that can best be described using mechanisms and concepts found in biology and living systems: Ecosystems, circularity, balance, feedback and tipping points, and adaptability. This has implications for Supply Chains, production, retail, and recycling: Atoms – physical products and materials will increasingly become local. Bits and data will be global.

Source: With inspiration from Peter Hesseldahl’s  “When technology comes alive, and life becomes technology” published in Mandag Morgen and as a book.

Peter Hesseldahl is a journalist and editor of digital transformation at Ugebrevet Mandag Morgen – a weekly Danish business magazine. As an in-house futurist, Hesseldahl has previously worked with trends, scenarios, and strategies for LEGO and Danfoss. He has also consulted extensively on future issues for ministries and large companies such as BNP Paribas and Shell. Hesseldahl is the author of 7 books, most recently “Transition to the Future. When technology comes alive, and life becomes technology”.

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