Wayne Eckerson, founder of the Eckerson Group, is credited with coining the term “purple people” back in 2010. Last year, in an article,* Eckerson wrote about the yawning gulf between business (blue) and information technology (red) groups in most organizations. He said that successful leaders—the purple people—not only know how to talk the language of both camps and but also how to create from these two disparate groups a team that can deliver real business value.
For today’s supply chain organizations, facing new and demanding digital, technical and business challenges, it is imperative to find, hire and cultivate more purple people.
On the business side, companies will require managers with a deep understanding of the various functions in a supply chain organization—the best practices that companies follow in transportation, warehousing, inventory management and customer service, according to J. Paul Dittmann, executive director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee.
“Business people in the supply chain also need to be able to translate all of that into language that other parts of the organization, and especially senior executives, can understand,” he continued. “Instead of talking about how they’re going to save money in the warehouse by reducing the time required to pick a case of goods, supply chain managers will need to talk instead about how they’re going to better serve the customer, how they’re going to help drive revenue for the company and how they’re going to help generate higher profits.”
By Mary Lou Jay