As someone who loves a good supply chain story mixed in with geography and history, I loved this great article this week in the New York Times on HP’s use of the Silk Road from China to Europe to transport PC’s. Clearly the investment in risk and process is massive, but the long term outcomes maybe as equally impressive.
HP are not unique in doing this, although clearly it is certainly at the bleeding edge of the uptake. I like the approach for several reasons, most notably:
- The lateral thinking that gets HP to invest in the silk road as a supply chain is the sort of thinking it needs to transform and recover after the difficult past couple of years for the firm
- It opens up relationships and integrates economic outcomes with a range of governments and suppliers that otherwise would exist basically in a separate world to that of HP.
- Just as HP needed to go back to it’s own history to gain inspiration for the cultural changes it needs to make, commerce in general can learn from history to create new processes particularly in high cost, resource poor markets
Bottom line – A great initiative from HP, and one that will potentially be the inspiration for many more lateral decisions as organisations grapple with high distribution costs, changing consumer whims and the need to be one step ahead of the competition.