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CHARLOTTE, NC: A new study by supply chain trade association MHI and Deloitte says supply chain executives want to invest in new technologies and business innovations but are hampered by a shortage of talent and relentless cost reduction.

MHI says the top two strategic priorities of supply chain executives are analytics and multichannel fulfillment. Three emerging innovations expected to be top-of-mind soon are sustainability, mobility/machine-to-machine technology and 3-D printing.

 scott sopher"Respondents clearly identified the need to rethink their approach to supply chain management," said Scott Sopher (right), principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and the leader of its Supply Chain & Manufacturing Operations practice.

"In the past, organizations addressed supply chain challenges primarily through cost reduction and operational efficiency efforts. Today's global supply chains require a new focus on technology and innovation as well as a willingness to invest in these areas for the long term. A true commitment to innovation will help organizations better prepare for the future, manage supply chain risks and stay ahead of the curve," he added.

Survey results show nearly 80 percent of respondents think supply chain analytics is a "very important" or "moderately important" strategic priority, and 74 percent of retailers expect their investments in multi-channel fulfillment to increase over the next three years.

More than 65 pgeorge prestercent of survey participants indicated that process, technology and skillset gaps exist within their company. "Unfortunately, the right kind of supply chain talent is extremely difficult to come by these days," said MHI which expects the supply chain field to add 1.4 million new jobs by 2018.

Over 70 percent of respondents across sectors said that controlling costs is more important than innovations in sustainability, even though executives believe these investments are important.

MHI found that 79 percent of respondents think sustainability is "moderately important" while more than 60 percent noted significant capability gaps in their companies and clients to prevent them from effectively implementing sustainability programmes.

"For nearly 70 years, MHI has been working to improve global supply chains." noted CEO George Prest (left). "The findings of this study have significant implications for how companies design and manage their global supply chains."

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