The front-end customer experience is provided in a way that it is directly linked to a supply chain that has been designed and operated to be directly driven by customer demand. This often requires a massive investment to build a superior, agile supply chain. It also requires a superior customer experience. While this appears to be an obvious thought, the reality is much harder to obtain. An early leader in this was Dell Computer, who thrived in the Personal Computer era by dealing directly with consumers through multiple remote channels and thereby avoided expensive retail partners.
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Today, many stakeholders influence the decision or demand for a product or service. Demand Chains link capabilities to generate increased business demand in an organized, structured and targeted fashion, often using new, digital enablers. Successful Demand Chains engage those stakeholders, capitalize upon their interests and achieve outsized or new share of business for the entity. Over time, this success will be one of the two or three factors dictating on-going viability in many industries.
Supply chains have been the primary focus of corporate information technology for more than five decades. Much learning, experience, discipline and investment has gone into successfully structuring and optimizing digitally enhanced supply chains that have permitted global sourcing on an unprecedented scale. However, they do not typically engage customers well or generate the demand businesses need going forward.
An organized, digitally enhanced approach to creating demand will be the next great challenge.