Growth Opportunities? Operationalize Your Demand Chain

Operationalize Your Demand Chain

Efficiency Only Goes So Far

The last twenty years of American business have been focused on integrating and perfecting operational efficiencies through the perfection and active management of the Supply Chain. During our recent Big Recession, many companies almost exclusively focused on supply chain efficiencies as a strategy for survival. Now, as we refocus on growth strategies, the challenge is taking the expertise and company culture focused on linear thinking and introspection of the supply chain to capitalize on growth opportunities. This is applicable thinking whether or not your company provides a manufactured product or business services.

Operationalize Your Demand ChainThe University of Texas Research Findings

A fairly recent study by the McCombs School of Business  done in conjunction with Chief Outsiders revealed that about half of mid-size businesses are operationally-focused, as opposed to market-focused.  These operationally focused organizations are usually led by a founder or CEO from an operational background and the key management teams of these organizations are primarily operational, or internally focused. The study revealed two powerful insights: that market-focused companies grow faster than their industry peers, but also that operationally-focused companies who adopt market-focused behaviors or skills, will also grow faster than their peers.

Marketing as a Discipline

One way to get an operationally-focused organizations growing again is to start addressing strategic growth and marketing with the same discipline and linear thinking that you have applied to Supply Chain planning and optimization.  In other words, address business growth and marketing like a Demand Chain.

The Difference

Just like the Supply Chain, the end point of the Demand Chain is the final purchase and use of the product or service by the end user. The Supply Chain and the Demand Chain meet at the same end point but they start out very differently. The development of a Supply Chain often has a middle point of the product or manufacturing, and then works backwards towards supplier and forwards towards delivery. The Demand Chain also has a middle point of the products or services, but it can work backwards to understand and integrate the needs of the target customer/consumer and then forwards to the distribution channel, demand generation and eventual delivery systems. In a sense, the supply chain is the physical chain whereas the demand chain is logical, although quite real. This is where companies find their relevance and differentiation. The most relevant, but differentiated offerings win time and again.

We’ll be exploring this topic in our Fridays with Vistage webinar this Friday, March 20, at 10 a.m. PDT. You may register for this webinar by clicking here.

by Art Saxby, CEO, Chief Outsiders, LLC

Category: Marketing

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About the Author: Art Saxby

Art Saxby is Founder and Principal of Chief Outsiders. Saxby specializes in manufacturing, commodity and branded products. Contact Art at 281.610.1481 or email at

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