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November 14, 2017

#SupplyChainCity Report Reveals Atlanta’s Digital Strengths

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By Sandra MacQuillan, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Kimberly-Clark

Digital supply chain is vastly upending our traditional concept of the industry. With the release of the new Deloitte report as part of the #SupplyChainCity initiative, we have a clearer idea of just how much Atlanta is gaining in the international marketplace. The initiative, created by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, revealed through the report that metro Atlanta is the #2 city in the nation for digital supply chain, behind only New York City. We have the edge over Silicon Valley here – Atlanta has the infrastructure, talent and technology to set it apart. With this report, we have the means to continue capitalizing on our reputation.

One point from the Deloitte report that illustrates our edge is the fact that global companies are located in Atlanta, and new ones join their ranks day by day. Not only do these companies operate on an international scale, but they are also all engaged in integrated, digitized solutions to worldwide distribution channels. Companies like Kimberly-Clark, Turner, UPS, Delta, the Home Depot and Cisco are sending their supply chain specialists all around the world to investigate new technologies, research solutions and develop the means by which these new processes can be integrated back home. While other regions create the software, Atlanta becomes the central distribution control tower – we are the connecting link.

Metro Atlanta’s digital supply chain is supported by our one-of-a-kind talent mix. Georgia Tech offers the #1 and largest supply chain program in the U.S. Georgia as a whole is unique in offering supply chain programs, notably at Georgia College, Georgia State and Georgia Southern. The Deloitte report revealed that the metro region’s pipeline of digital supply chain talent is strong, especially relative to the size of the labor market. Universities like Georgia Tech directly support projects and initiatives developed by our companies, and our many innovation centers, incubators and accelerators continue to refine our top innovative thinking. With more than 70 colleges and universities and over 275,000 students, our concentration of future leaders is strong.

From the beginning, metro Atlanta has been a strong player in the supply chain industry. Three interstate highways lead into the core city, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the most-traveled in the world and the ports of Savannah and Brunswick supply the nation and the world. Atlanta is connected by land, sea and air. There are also a number of other industry activities in Atlanta that bring people to the region through related tech areas, such as IoT, Smart Cities and mobile. Most of the major supply chains of today are investing heavily in automation, software and other projects to give customers the best experience. Digitalization is the way forward.

Atlanta is no stranger to disruption, and to continue our trend toward innovation, business leaders and legislators need to work together to foster the digital supply chain. Through the Global Cities Initiative’s Metro Export Plan, Atlanta companies are encouraged to expand their businesses internationally, and the Foreign Direct Investment Plan similarly brings in new markets and sources of revenue. Furthermore, Atlanta companies are connecting quarterly to explore the latest thinking in supply chain across many subjects including digitization, to stimulate learning and better understanding the role our function can bring in terms of economic development and company performance. Atlanta’s edge in this industry deserves to be maintained.

In her role as chief supply chain officer, Sandra MacQuillan leads Kimberly-Clark’s global Supply Chain, with responsibility for Procurement, Logistics, Manufacturing, Quality and Regulatory, Sustainability, Safety, and the company’s Global NonWovens business unit. In addition to her role at Kimberly-Clark, Ms. MacQuillan also serves as the chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Supply Chain Leadership Council as well as a board member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Economic Development Committee and SCM World’s Executive Advisory Board.

Visit the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Supply Chain Leadership Council for more information on Atlanta’s innovative approaches to supply chain.