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How Olympus Broke Down Silos for Better, Faster Decisions
Published: July 10, 2023
In a recent aim10x live event in Singapore, Nico Nuerbchen from Olympus shared valuable insights on the company’s journey to modernize its supply chain. With a focus on digital transformation, Olympus has successfully improved its planning and decision-making capabilities, enabling them to adapt to a complex product portfolio and meet the demands of their customers. Here are the top five takeaways from the discussion, highlighting key aspects of Olympus’ supply chain transformation.
1. Shifting from a Traditional to a Modern Supply Chain:
Olympus, a well-known Japanese company with a strong presence in the camera industry, underwent a significant transformation by shifting its focus to medical devices. This shift required Olympus to revamp its supply chain, moving away from a transactional, regionally driven approach. By adopting a more integrated and global perspective, Olympus aimed to provide transparency, data-driven decision-making, and enhanced customer experiences. This shift from a traditional supply chain to a modern one formed the foundation of their transformation.
2. Leveraging Digitalization for Improved Visibility and Decision Making:
Digital transformation played a vital role in Olympus’ supply chain modernization. The company recognized the importance of real-time data, supply and demand visibility, and scenario planning. By connecting previously disconnected systems and implementing an integrated data system and data lake, Olympus achieved greater automation, reduced manual reporting, and improved process accountability. This digitalization journey allowed for better decision-making based on comprehensive insights into supply chain performance, cost analysis, and root cause identification.
3. Embracing an Agile Approach to Capability Building:
Olympus adopted an agile approach throughout its transformation journey. Recognizing that building all the necessary capabilities upfront was impractical, the company opted for a step-wise approach. They focused on developing core functional capabilities, such as planning, distribution, and trade compliance, while remaining flexible to adapt to changing requirements. This agile mindset facilitated the implementation of digital planning tools, integration with financial planning systems, and the establishment of a check and trace solution. By taking measured steps and leveraging pilot projects, Olympus ensured a smooth transition and effectively showcased the benefits of their digitalized supply chain.
4. Promoting Organizational Excellence and Change Management:
Alongside technical advancements, Olympus recognized the importance of organizational excellence and change management. To promote a healthy and collaborative work environment, the company established a supply chain academy. This academy provided training on supply chain strategy, network planning, distribution, and other relevant areas. By aligning the knowledge and understanding of supply chain concepts across regions and teams, Olympus created a common language and facilitated effective communication. Regular check-ins, town hall meetings, and feedback mechanisms allowed for open dialogue and continuous improvement. These efforts helped build commitment and engagement among employees, fostering a culture of change and adaptability.
5. Expanding the Scope of Digitalization for Enhanced Business Impact:
Olympus understood that digitalization could extend beyond planning and distribution, enabling broader business transformation. By leveraging digital tools and analytics, they explored use cases such as control tower functionality, quality management, and supply chain visibility for compliance purposes. The company emphasized the importance of connecting supply chain operations with customer expectations, improving transparency, and facilitating better communication with customers. The ongoing journey toward digitalization focused on integrating modules, rolling out technology, and scaling up the capabilities to maximize the benefits across the entire supply chain.