November 07, 2014

Could Apple Watch Team Have Benefited from Pro-active Supply Chain Planning and Supply Chain Visibility?

Dipti Gupta

Apple products are also susceptible to supply chain disruptions

“Being proactive is not a mysterious quality that we have, or don’t have. It is a way of dealing with things that we can develop and strengthen.”


There was a recent news article about Apple delaying the release of their new Apple Watch from November 2014 to the Spring of 2015. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of GT Advanced Technologies, a supplier to Apple of scratch-resistant sapphire goods, appears to have caught Apple by surprise potentially causing this delay. Obviously this push means a huge loss to Apple, especially since it was targeting its launch to coincide with  the holiday shopping season. Apart from the direct impact to Apple watch deliveries, this also means that Apple will now have to abort their plans to replace the gorilla glass with sapphire in their upcoming iPhones.

Could this have been prevented? Could Apple have known that it was using a high financial risk supplier? Could an alternate supplier have been developed as GT Advanced Technologies’ finances were taking a nosedive?

Leading-edge supply chain risk management tools integrate a customer’s n-tier supply chain map with 24X7 global event monitoring services to give customers a jump-start in developing and mobilizing risk mitigation action plans. This can take the form of developing alternate sources, identifying alternate parts or securing short supply from the broker market, which if not done pro-actively could sometimes be at a premium of up to 300%.

With these types of capabilities supply chain risk management can be turned into a source of competitive advantage.  Beginning with advanced supply chain mapping, companies have better visibility into their suppliers’ global footprint, sub-tier supplier dependencies and possible points of risk or failure. With robust analytics, companies can quickly zero in on critical failure points which need to be protected on a high priority basis.  By harnessing best in breed capabilities of cloud platforms as well as applying social networking concepts to the supply chain event monitoring and information sharing, the cost of proactive preparedness and proactive risk management can be brought down.

So, with today’s technological advances, do we have the tools to peer into the future to anticipate and simulate upcoming events and take appropriate preventative measures?

Yes! The supply chain industry has advanced dramatically with the help of creative strategies and technological advances. The flow of goods is followed by an even bigger flow of data that can be leveraged to create meaningful plans of action to prevent future disruptions. Link that to the social events, and one can understand how happenings around the world impact their supply chain. As a result, one can not only get end-to-end supply chain visibility today, but also a peep-hole into the future state of your supply chain network performance.

So yes, Apple could have been more proactive. Leveraging supply chain risk management technology, they could have been able to proactively identify loose links in their multi-tier supply chain and take actions in advance.

And, Santa would have delivered my Apple watch just in time for Christmas!

“Being proactive means being reactive - ahead of time.”  

--- Unknown

Increased supply chain visibility means a more resilient supply chain. Click here to read more about the ROI of resiliency.

Topics: supply chain visibility, high tech, supply chain disruptions