It has become broadly understood that the onrush of new digital technologies and solutions often outpaces companies\u2019 ability to easily absorb and harness them. Although this has become conventional wisdom, many companies fail to take the organizational steps necessary to address this challenge.\nAt a high level, these steps include cultivating corporate culture and building organizational structures that are designed to be as flexible, adaptable, and speedy as the emerging technologies themselves. Many IT managers have learned this truth the hard way. They\u2019ve found that simply deploying a new digital solution can be relatively easy, compared to ensuring that the solution addresses actual business needs and objectives\u2014to say nothing of getting employees to use it.\nAll of these dynamics are clearly in play when it comes to corporate supply chain operations. As in other functional areas, cutting-edge supply chain technologies promise tantalizing benefits but often come with significant implementation challenges. Everything from Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors to big data analytics and artificial intelligence is giving supply chain managers powerful new tools to exploit. But these tools also add complexity, require new skill sets, and can prove costly in terms of time and money if they\u2019re not properly vetted and well matched with specific company objectives.\nOn the bright side, the digitization of the supply chain has become a catalyst pushing many companies to pay increased attention to this critical business area. As part of these examinations, companies should look beyond simply automating and optimizing existing processes. An in-depth evaluation of company needs, paired with an understanding of what today\u2019s technologies can provide, is likely to reveal ways organizations can implement supply chain innovations that add significant value across the entire enterprise.\nSupply chain innovation and optimization hold such strong potential because of their inherent scope and variety. After all, supply chain functions encompass finance, procurement, inventory\/warehouse, transport logistics, and distribution, among other activities.\nTraditionally, these essential supply chain elements have often operated somewhat independently from one another, if not in completely isolated functional silos. Nowadays it\u2019s possible to run all these functions on a unified and well-integrated IT infrastructure. Here, again, though, the toughest challenge will often be integrating the various departmental groups, which each have their own culture, supply chain stakes, and reporting hierarchy.\nAs with so much else in our digitally transformed business environment, supply chain optimization must be addressed by cross-functional and cross-departmental teams. In many companies, these multifaceted teams will report to a chief supply chain officer (CSCO) or some equivalent.\nIn turn\u2014because the team should include IT as well as business unit members\u2014the CSCO may report directly to the chief operations officer or even to the CEO. Oversight will often fall to the chief information officer, however. Because a core CIO function is to bridge the IT and business realms, that person can also provide the high-level oversight and coordination required.\nIt\u2019s important for the strategic team to focus not only\u2014or even primarily\u2014on the sourcing, transit, and inventory side of supply chain operations. The team should also include sales and marketing department representatives, since they can provide relevant insight into market trends and customer preferences. Meanwhile, product design and development experts with knowledge of current and future material requirements should also be key team contributors.\nCompanies that leverage today\u2019s technologies to build innovative and optimized supply chain operations can gain great business advantage over those slower to act. But the organizations leading in these efforts will understand that the most impactful innovation must originate in their own company\u2019s culture, managers, and employees. Only with a well-managed, comprehensive, and cross-departmental approach will companies be able to best exploit the many new technologies and solutions now available to them.\nLearn how GEP can help you digitally transform your procurement and supply chain operations at www.gep.com.